7 Things Your Families Wish You Knew About Them
Guest Article Provided By: Joe Joachim, FuneralOne
Funeral service just isn’t what it used to be.
The traditional send-off has in many cases been replaced by direct cremation or low cost services. But that’s not the way it has to be.
There are many fingers we can point and many excuses we can come up with, but have we ever considered this: what if we just don’t know how to make our families happy like we used to?
Many successful companies like Zappos base their entire business model on that simple idea: make customers happy.
What if the funeral profession could do the same? Well, we can!
Let’s dive into 7 things your families WISH you knew about them.
1. Understand that nobody really “wants” a direct cremation.
First of all, let’s clear one thing up – nobody really WANTS a direct cremation. That’s just the boomers’ way of exerting control and departing from tradition. According to a study by the Funeral Service Foundation, Boomers want their funeral ceremony to be a “crowning performance”. If we don’t offer them that, then we are failing our client families.
We already know that boomers are not afraid to discuss death and dying. But what they want more than anything else is to do something special to celebrate their end-of-life. With more than half of all funerals being direct cremations, it’s not that special anymore. So your funeral home has the opportunity to offer your boomer families something more, which brings us to the second point…
2. Your families know what they want, and are willing to tell you.
If you’re struggling to figure out what you can offer client families in this new era, here’s a news flash: they already have ideas, so just ask. A recent study of 1,193 successful innovations in nine different industries showed that 60% of these came from customer ideas. And, we know boomers have been raised to be vocal about their needs.
The Funeral Service Foundation recently interviewed people one-on-one about their expectations of a funeral ceremony. They were so happy to be asked, they actually hugged the interviewer.
The takeaway: all you have to do is ask. Find out what means the most to your families and then become a stage manager extraordinaire, providing a funeral celebration they will never forget!
3. Think outside-the-box, please.
One way to differentiate yourself is to think about some of the unusual requests customers might want before they even walk through the door. There’s never been a better time to do this, thanks to online tools that can make the process easy.
Set up a Google alert to keep track of innovative funeral services. You can use a social bookmarking or notebook tool to store information on different types of memorials, so you have this information on hand when it’s time to talk to families. Thinking outside the box is no longer an option; it’s a must.
4. Families want to hear more about what you have to offer.
Many funeral professionals mistakenly assume that client families don’t want to see their whole facility or hear about all of their different service options. But if they don’t understand everything you have to offer, how can they ask you to include it?
Taking families on a quick tour won’t do justice to the level of service you offer. That will make it easier for them to opt for a direct cremation – and that’s no good for anyone. Give a full tour of the facilities and make sure you inform your families on all the service options you have. You can do this by simply playing tribute videos on your flat screens, creating a “Planning your funeral” mobile app, or by using this next tip…
5. A good story makes your families more open to purchase.
A recent article in Forbes said: “a good story beats a good lecture.” So why not take your families on a journey rather than give a dry-as-dust consultation? Storytelling is a wonderful way to give them ideas without dictating or overtly selling to them. Just one thing, though – your story can’t be fake or it will have the opposite effect and drive people away.
As you give tours of your facility and show families all of your service offerings, tell genuine stories of the tributes you have created for real-life families and the impact they had on the community. That’s the way to help them create meaningful memorials using the full range of the services you have to offer.
6. If you remember them, they’ll remember you.
The best way to get someone’s attention? Simply use their name. People like you more if you use their name, and think you’re more competent too.
Whether you are communicating with families in person, on the phone, by email or on social media, refer to them by name and they will automatically pay more attention to what you say. Be warned, though; don’t overuse the tactic. Excessive use of names will make them feel like you are marketing to them, and that will undo all the progress you have made.
7. Surprise reciprocity goes a long way.
Boomers know what they want so if you listen and engage you will soon figure out how to give them something extra – maybe even surprise them. People are hardwired to repay acts of kindness and you don’t even have to ask. It’s called reciprocity.
Leading online shoe retailer, Zappos, has mastered this technique. Zappos automatically upgrades all customers to priority shipping without even mentioning it – it’s one reason why their customers are rabidly loyal.
Take a look at this video where Ross Shafer talks about an encounter with a staff member at a Marriott hotel. She surprised him with one small thing and he’s still talking about it years later.
I encourage you to take these insights and turn them into a completely transformed experience for your families.
It’s important to remember that firms who are looking for new ways to remain relevant and provide the best experience for their client families are managing to succeed in these challenging times. And hopefully, now you can too.
Have you ever added a service or product to your funeral home based on a suggestion from a family? What’s the best customer service compliment you ever got? Share your thoughts!
Joe Joachim is the CEO and Founder of funeralOne, the first global solutions firm leading a movement of change for the funeral profession. For the past 10 years, he’s developed game-changing solutions that help funeral professionals increase the value of their service offerings, connect with the families of today, and become more profitable. funeralOne’s solutions include: website design, aftercare, funeraleCommerce, and personalization software. Connect with Joe on Google+.
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This is a topic and conversation that does not get talked about or covered enough. We all want to put the blame on cremation and ignore the fact that many of the issues facing funeral homes aren't because families choose cremation but because of bad business decisions of many funeral directors who don't want to change or accept cremation.