Are you looking for more ways to take the service you provide in your funeral home to the next level?
Like with so many other industries, customer service in the death care industry continues to evolve. Along with an evolving service concept, expectations and needs are also changing. When a family walks through the door of your funeral home, they are fresh from a variety of service experiences that have shaped what they’re looking for — from both you and your funeral home.
Whether it’s the last friendly barista that served them a great cup of coffee, a helpful set of recommended books that popped up on Amazon, or the last stylish hotel lobby they sat in, all of these things set the bar higher for you. Then, layer in the fact that your customers are grieving families dealing with the death of a loved one. That can make for a seemingly tall order when it comes to giving the best service possible.
Customer experience consultant, speaker and author, Micah Solomon, has this to say in his recent Forbes article on customer service in the deathcare industry — “…the rule here seems to be that the professionals who populate this industry wouldn’t be here if they weren’t devoted to caring for people in their time of need.”
If you’re in the funeral business, chances are that it’s not just a job for you, it’s a calling.
As a professional in the deathcare industry, you know that the families who come through your funeral home door may not realize just what their needs really are. What aspects of the environment put them at ease? What questions should they be asking? Do they know how they will pay for funeral arrangements? How will they find ongoing support after the funeral?
All of which leads to yet another question — how can you enhance what you already do for loved ones of the deceased?
Dealing with the day to day business of your funeral home may not leave a lot of time to consider new service and support opportunities, so we’ve put together a list of idea starters:
A recent funeralOne blog points out, funeral professionals are looking to the hotel industry for inspiration on ways to differentiate their businesses, meet the needs of their customers, and provide a comfortable experience.
Does your funeral home offer a warm and inviting atmosphere — one that is not just about meeting with you to plan the funeral? A bright, stylish area with comfortable, updated furniture provides a gathering spot for families and friends to relax and visit with each other. Be sure to include a space for children where they can play and be happily occupied. Lastly, consider creating an attractive outdoor seating area.
Even better, have you thought about adding a small coffee bar or café to your business? You can either create and run the space as part of your funeral home business, or find a local coffee shop or café owner who is interested in running the business from space you provide.
It’s simple, but often appreciated. Offer helpful book suggestions to those who’ve lost a loved one. You might already have a few books you recommend on loss and grieving, but here are several more worth exploring:
- Suggestions from motheringspirit.com —
The Art of Losing by Kevin Young — This is a collection of poems on Reckoning, Remembrance, Rituals, Recovery, and Redemption. “So the book is perfect for dipping into when you find yourself in different seasons of missing the ones you love. And he includes poems on the loss of parents, spouses, children, siblings, friends, even strangers.”
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander — “What I thought would be a book that might raise fear and anxiety for me turned out to be an elegy of light and joy.”
- Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant — The book’s central theme is that we are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Rather, it is like a muscle that we can build and draw upon as we need. In this highly-rated book Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, shares personal insights drawn from the sudden loss of her husband, and Wharton professor, Adam Grant shares research he’s done on finding strength and resilience within ourselves.
- On Grief and Grieving — Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler. The authors apply the five stages of death — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — to the way we experience the grief process.
While books are a comfort for some, others may find it easier to listen to podcasts like those listed on Blogtalkradio.com. There you’ll find a variety of podcasts that deal with grief.
For those who aren’t sure how to support someone who’s dealing with the death of a loved one, this 8 minute npr.org podcast offers up advice from Sheryl Sandberg on how best to be there for someone who is grieving.
Resources specific to children and teens
If you’re not familiar with this website, Dougy.org brings together a variety of resources for children, teens and their families coping with loss and grieving. Here you’ll find recommended books, pamphlets, tips on coping, podcasts and even access to training programs for those interested in helping grieving children. It’s got great information for families that need suggestions on how to help their child or teen.
Bereavement and grief support ~
Although the Dougy Center is primarily a resource for children, teens and their families, their comprehensive list of support groups features programs for all ages. The list can be searched by city, state, or name of a center.
TAPS — Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. helps families who have lost a military member. They offer a wide variety of resources including online chat groups, retreats, care groups and events.
Co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook, John W. James, founded The Grief Recovery Institute after losing his son and not finding the help he needed to deal with his overwhelming grief. At the time, James found plenty of intellectual help, but that wasn’t what he needed — “…my brain wasn’t really broken, it was my heart.” The institute’s website, griefrecoverymethod.com is another source of blogs, book and group listings helpful for those dealing with the loss of a loved. They also offer certification to become a grief recovery specialist.
It’s no surprise to those in the business that paying for a funeral can be expensive. It’s also not surprising that death benefits or life insurance proceeds are not always promptly paid out.
What is surprising is that some funeral directors and staff, feel reluctant to bring up the topic of funeral financing with customers. Offering a financing alternative while going through cost and payment details is simply another way to offer thoughtful service. Especially in the case of delayed or disputed death benefits, families will appreciate having an option besides loading up their credit cards.
It can be a struggle to pay for funeral expenses all at once. By providing access to point-of-sale financing through LendingUSA you can give customers peace of mind.We’ll help you increase the support and service you already provide grieving families, and we’ll also help grow your business. Schedule a demo with us to see how.
Ultimately, whichever ideas and initiatives you choose to implement, the key is to keep your focus on continually offering heartfelt, compassionate service — from your first interaction through the entirety of the funeral process, and even afterward.
How will you give your customers the best service possible?