Contributors Funeral Industry News

You Can’t Un-Answer A Call

November 27, 2012

Ryan Thogmartin is the CEO of DISRUPT Media | Follower of Christ | Husband | Father | Entrepreneur | Host of #DISRUPTu! and #FUNERALnationtv | Lover of Skittles DISRUPT Media is a social media content agency that focuses on storytelling for funeral companies. We use real stories to build creative strategies that achieve actual business goals.

You Can’t Un-Answer A Call


Funeral Director: Hello?

Caller Hi this is Jane Doe. I’m at my lawyer’s office and we’re about to make settlement on my mother’s estate. I need a copy of her death certificate faxed over immediately

Funeral Director: You’ll have to file first with the state Vital Statistics Office. I can order them for you or if you’d like I can give you their contact information so you can…

Caller: WHAT?!? No, I NEED this today! I know you have it on file there she was cremated by you  six months ago. Here’s the fax number for my lawyer…

Funeral Director: I’m sorry but we don’t simply have it on file now. There is a procedure that must be followed and we must….

Caller: We’re making settlement today and you’re doing this to me now? Unbelievable.

Funeral Director: I’d be happy to put in the request but there is a standard…

Caller: Thanks for nothing!


            You have probably taken a call such as this many times during your career as a funeral director.  Consider how many times you have picked up the phone at your funeral home and instantly regretted it. Whether it is a caller who expects you to drop everything when you are the middle of a service to look up death records from 1924 for their genealogy project or a relative demanding to pick up ashes late on a Sunday night, there are a lot of calls that leave you feeling frustrated and impatient by the time you hang up the phone.

A recent Gallup poll found that 73 percent of Americans felt people’s manners were worse today than 20 or 30 years ago. While mobile and internet advancements have made life more convenient, there is no denying that we have become a culture of instant results. Since websites can be accessed 24/7, people now call funeral homes at all hours of the day asking for an immediate call back for help with sending an online condolence. Society as a whole has become less accustomed to having to wait for answers.

When you watch a show like Bridezilla and see brides-to-be having a meltdown over a scuff mark on the floor, it’s obvious how stressful planning a milestone event can be for everyone involved. Every minor detail and worst case scenario must be considered. For funeral directors, this pressure is compounded by the short window of time and the emotional intensity of planning a funeral. When the memory of a person is at stake, the grief that loved ones feel is often exacerbated by the burden of having to plan such an important event in so little time. It is often the case that the funeral director will bear the brunt of this frustration to help remove some of the tension from the family.

Consequently, funeral directors have to communicate professionally and empathetically with people who are often reacting to situations with extreme emotion. A grandchild’s name left out of an obituary or a bible verse read incorrectly has the potential to enrage or devastate family members. Due to the time-sensitive nature of their work, funeral professionals are often forced to discuss major decisions over the phone. However, the  telephone can often be a challenging communication medium. The lack of face-to-face interaction can be problematic when 55 percent of our messages are conveyed with body language, according to the University of Florida, while our actual words account for only 7 percent. While most funeral directors place a high value on personal interaction, ignoring the telephone is not an option when a call can come in day or night for a family in need.

Unfortunately, remaining available at all times may often mean dealing with callers who do not understand the demands of the funeral business or respect the nature of your work. When you’re a funeral director working side-by-side with grieving families, you cannot let a bad telephone exchange ruin your mood. So how do you remain positive, find time for yourself and ensure that every call is answered promptly?  For many funeral homes, the answer is to forward their phone lines to an answering service that can provide a protective shield between the staff and rude callers while ensuring they will be notified immediately if a family calls.

ASD – Answering Service for Directors helps funeral homes screen their calls by offering highly customizable account options that allow directors to be notified only for the specific types of calls they deem urgent. Directors can prepare in advance before speaking to a caller who might otherwise ruin their day. Every call is recorded, allowing funeral professionals to hear the emotional state of the person before returning the call. With so much at stake and so little time to plan such an monumental event, funeral professionals are constantly pulled in different directions and must prioritize their checklist of crucial tasks. With ASD,  directors can reclaim the time they once spent responding to inconsiderate callers and focus on the families that require immediate attention.


Kevin Czachor, Vice President & Family Member Owner of ASD – Answering Service for Directors, has helped develop telecommunication strategies for 25 percent of funeral homes located in North America. With a visionary approach to business, the ASD team have redefined the way Funeral Directors serve their families through combining unparalleled levels of training and advanced technology. Kevin can be reached at 800-868-9950 or via email at [email protected]