Nobody Raves About Average Funerals
Guest article provided by: Ellery Bowker – Founder of Aftercare.com
To grow your business you need to get your message out. The the best way to do that is having people talk about you. The value of actual customers telling others about your firm is invaluable. The inherent problem is that nobody will do it if your service is just good. They will if it is great. They will if it is bad. They will not if it is just good.
Consider Yelp, the popular app where consumers leave reviews about businesses they’ve used. What started out as a restaurant review site now includes all businesses, including funeral homes. It’s important to understand that Yelp is not successful because millions of people decided to take out an app and tell how everything was just fine. Where is the reward in that? If they leave a glowing review, it’s an invitation for others to have the same great experience as the person writing it. A bad review is their warning. What is the motivation for a family to share how they were unmoved by your services?
Yelp has proven that for a consumer to be your brand ambassador they must be so happy with your services that they feel compelled to share with others. When someone tells another person about a product, company or service, unsolicited, enthusiastically, they believe that the other person would benefit from using the product. This only happens when the product or service is so good they are willing to be the co-signer to the brand for your experience. They are convinced you will be as satisfied as they are.
This doesn’t happen with average service.
In today’s competitive environment you need families to tell others about your funeral home. Obviously, people don’t say “you should try out this funeral home” as you might with other products or services. They will gladly tell others about their experience with your funeral home, but only if it is really good or really bad.
Good service is the halfway point between awesome and awful.
We live in an age where excellence is required to win. There are more competitors, more savvy customers, and more forces against you for anything less to be a long term strategy. Excellence that creates evangelists for your brand is not achieved by tactics, but rather by a culture in your funeral home to always give families more than they expect, in every step of the funeral process. The proverbial “word of mouth” advertising bump can only be earned when you do things differently, when you surprise and delight.
Crafting a great experience starts with knowing what your customers expect.
- What do they expect to hear when they call your funeral home?
- What do they expect to see when they pull into your parking lot
- What do they expect to see when they walk into your building
- What do they expect to hear when they are making arrangements
- What do they expect to find on your website
- What do they expect your pricing will be
- How do they expect to be treated after the services are over.
The same questions, and many more like these, can be applied to any business that serves a paying customer. You know your business, and you know the expectations of your customer, so the starting line is already defined.
Examine every interaction with your families and make it better
I recently visited a funeral home where, during the arrangement conference, they get the cell phone numbers of the immediate family and set up a group text to keep everyone updated on what is happening over the next few days. Guess what? Families love it! I know of another very successful firm that does not mark up their caskets and shares with families how they are in the business of helping them remember their loved one with a choice of signature services, not by selling caskets. Talk about unexpected! Another example is a funeral home that openly shows their prices, and those of nearby competitors, on their website, even if they aren’t the cheapest. This transparency is certainly unexpected, but definitely appreciated.
Funeral homes like this are winning because they are examining every interaction with a family and relentlessly look for ways to make it better, to deliver more value, and to create surprise and delight.
At Aftercare.com, when a funeral home requests a sample of our Aftercare Card Program, we don’t send a generic sample, we take the time to learn about their funeral home, get their logo, personalize the sample for them and send it by priority mail. We are told all the time how they were super impressed with the quality, the personalization, and the importance we place on speed and delivery by sending it priority mail. All of this we are told was… unexpected.
When the next family leaves the funeral home, ask yourself if they are taking with them an experience that was more than what they expected and worthy of telling others about it, unsolicited, or was everything just fine. The good news is, the answer is up to you.
Ellery Bowker | Founder of Aftercare.com
Aftercare.com helps funeral homes automatically stay in touch with their families following their loss.