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Mr. Postman send me a letter

I have been told that we may be having some new visitors from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of FARA stopping by this week.  Welcome!! You might like to check out my disclaimer here and some previous CryWolf® hints here.
Today, we are continuing our discussion of letters generated by CryWolf®. We previously discussed how to send a letter from the account screen and also how to use portions of the bulk letters screen.  There are many times that it is necessary to send a letter to an alarm user beyond the alarm notifications that are generated when processing alarm calls.  Before my arrival in the unit, the practice was to draft a letter in Word and send it out.  This certainly served the purpose, but record keeping in CryWolf® was being ignored.  Most of the time, the accounts in CryWolf® show no indication that a letter was sent--so staff members have no idea to go looking for those letters. Although the letters were saved and are available on the shared hard drive, no thought was given to cross referencing them with the alarm site or even the registration number in CryWolf®.  With my arrival in the unit, I instituted the practice of saving the file as a pdf and importing it into the account record in CryWolf®.  This at least assured that the correspondence was easily available for future reference.
After several months, I realized that many of the reasons for correspondence popped up repeatedly and that my life would be immensely easier if a "form" letter were available.  I also believed that all correspondence going out to alarm users should be generated through CryWolf® in order for it to be preserved.  I also wanted to reduce or eliminate the steps needed to produce the letter and then import it into the account.
As a result, I created several form letters in the "edit letters" section of Maintenance. These letters cover many of the common reasons for needing correspondence.  Some examples include:
  • a letter to explain that the requirements for an appeal had not been met (usually the missing item was the appeal fee), 
  • a letter to include with a check being returned because the invoice had already been paid,
I also created a letter that I change as needed for situations that I don't think will be repeated.
    It is possible to create a letter so generic that it can be used without changes. These tend to be so broad that the recipient may not know which section applies to them. These certainly fill the need, but they don't always solve the problem. I like to tweak or personalize the letters when possible.  By having the "skeleton" of the letter at my disposal, I can quickly add a little personalization when the situation merits it. The really great thing is that no matter how many times I change the "skeleton" letter, the version that went out to the alarm user is always safe and sound and available in their account history.
    Another change that I have made to "personalize" correspondence is to add checkboxes to letters so that we can check the sections that are applicable to that user.  My favorite use of this idea is a letter that is generated for customers who have paid the alarm fine but failed to pay the reinstatement fee or send in the new registration form that is required after their registration has been revoked.  With a quick flick of my pen, I can "personalize" the letter to show what items have not been completed.  I haven't done a scientific study of the actual numbers, but this change seems to be improving the results we are seeing.
    Using the tools available in CryWolf® has decreased the time that I spend on paperwork so that I can focus on other projects.
    Do you have any unusual letters that your jurisdiction uses?  If so, share a little about them in the comments section so that others may be able to try them out.


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