Directors' Choice Answering Service Saves a Life

October 10, 2011
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Funeral home answering service, Directors’ Choice, received an alarming call in the wee hours of the morning on September 14. The contact center answers telephone lines 24/7/365 for almost 1000 funeral service providers across North America. They receive unusual calls on a regular basis (as is expected in the death-care industry), but in this particular case, someone’s life was on the line.

A distraught elderly gentleman called his local funeral home’s number, claiming the body of a deceased ‘friend’ was in a car in his garage. An operator at Directors’ Choice answered the line and began to gather the necessary information. She gently asked for the caller’s name, as well as the decedent’s name. A red flag immediately went up when the caller gave his own name as the name of person who had passed away.

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The operator immediately asked the caller to repeat the name to quickly confirm that they were, in fact, the same. Without sounding alarmed (which could have further distressed the caller), she continued on to determine his exact location and address. The caller repeatedly asked the operator not to send emergency services and to ensure no ‘sirens or bright lights’ disturbed any neighbours. He mentioned that the door would be unlocked and that a note had been placed in the kitchen for the police.

The call occurred at 5:07am and was dispatched immediately to the Florida funeral home’s on call director. This is a routine process when any death occurs, and is second nature to the operators at this contact center, who handle over 80,000 death notifications a year (known as “First Calls” in the death-care industry). The funeral director was awoken from sleep. When the agent explained the unusual nature of this particular call, he took down the vital information that was collected and immediately called 911.

The funeral home followed up the very next day, claiming that the gentleman on the phone had been attempting suicide. If the operator had not voiced her concerns to the director, it is possible he wouldn’t have immediately acted on the call. “[The suicide] was prevented due to the agent finding [the call] strange” stated the director, in his thank you note.

Directors’ Choice operators are specially selected and trained to carefully manage calls from families during one of the most difficult times in their lives. They care about helping people, and in this particular case, went above and beyond to ensure that this gentleman’s family, although many thousands of miles away, would not be put in that position.

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