One thing you discover fairly quickly working at ASD: there are a lot of different types of funeral homes and a huge variety of personalities within this profession. Understanding that every funeral business is unique and catering to those differences has been a key factor in establishing our company as the answering service trusted by more than 9,000 funeral homes across the United States and Canada. We recognized early that a one-size-fits-all solution would not meet the needs of our diverse client base and designed our answering service system with a multitude of customization options.
Simply put, we are not the same answering service to every funeral home. Our services are highly configurable and designed to reflect your funeral home’s specific standards, which may vary greatly from a funeral home in a different geographic region. Every aspect of our answering service that you can imagine—from the information gathered from callers to how messages calls are screened and dispatched to even the speech patterns of our Call Specialists—can be fully customized. Just because we are the leading funeral home answering service does not mean that we think we have it all figured out when it comes to how your funeral home’s calls should be handled. No one knows that better than you. This is why we have established a dedicated Client Solutions Team to work closely with you and your staff to create a communication strategy that fits your funeral home like a tailor-made suit.
We put the remote in your hands to give you total control over every aspect of your funeral home account with ASD. What’s more, we understand the importance of flexibility in this business and that your needs may change in the future. Our systems are highly adaptable, allowing you to make any adjustments to your preferences with ease. Want to learn more about how you can customize your account with ASD? Check out the 10 examples listed below, based on real funeral homes we have helped in the past, that demonstrate how we are able to meet the individual needs of every funeral home we serve.
1. The small-town funeral home
Funeral homes located in close-knit communities are often wary of answering services because they fear it could be perceived as impersonal by their callers. We addressed those fears head on by working closely with the funeral home throughout their free trial to develop custom scripting and to ensure we are only gathering the information the funeral home needs. For example, many of our small-town clients prefer that we dispatch every call that requires a response, refrain from asking the caller’s area code, and only gather basic information during first calls. We can easily accommodate these requests. ASD can also add information on local establishments and common callers to help our Call Specialists sound familiar with the funeral home’s area.
“I am a small town, independent firm. Every call is important. I know each call taken by ASD is going to be handled courteously and professionally. It gives me freedom I feel I deserve. I have had no complaints from my clientele.”-Carl Vensil, Vensil & Chute Funeral Home in Dresden, OH. (ASD client since 1995)
Many small-town funeral homes pride themselves on being the first point of contact for at-need families. We can notify the on-call person the moment we begin gathering information on a first call. The notification includes an option that allows the director to connect into the call in real time, just as if they were picking up a second line at the funeral home. This solution, known as First Call Connect™, gives small town funeral homes the ability to remain responsive to at-need families without having to answer every single call themselves.
2. The multi-generational funeral home
The funeral profession is one of the few vocations where employees’ ages range from 18 to 80. Multi-generational funeral homes have thrived for more than a century and will continue to endure, no matter what technology is invented or becomes obsolete. Yet, when an office is able to synchronize communications, it benefits both customers and employees. With ASD, instead of being forced to compromise, every employee is able to use our service based on their own comfort level. Our customization options allow each person at the funeral home to set up their own individual preferences.
“We are a 4th generation, family-owned business, and we pride ourselves in our personal, hometown touch. Our after-hours calls WERE being handled by an elderly employee who had been with us for several years, but lately had been struggling with some calls. By switching to ASD, I was instantly impressed by how professional and caring our calls were handled. No more problems with late night death calls, no more missed calls, etc. I can just leave work in the afternoon and know that regardless what the next call brings, it will be handled in a professional manner. It is very important to our business to always be available to our community, and ASD has helped in making that easier.”-Gene Britt, Clinkingbeard Funeral Home in Gainesville, MO. (ASD client since 2012)
The benefit of empowering funeral home teams to customize these settings is that it gives funeral directors with varying degrees of technical experience different options for how they handle after-hours communication. For instance, while some older morticians who are used to doing things a certain way may prefer to retrieve messages at a computer or voicemail system, others with more technical experience may want a more streamlined option, like the ASD Mobile app. The same applies to tasks such as sending ASD information on current funeral services or updating the on-call information. Giving funeral home teams multiple options reduces friction among different age groups as it ensures that no one has to adjust to another person’s technical ability.
3. The funeral home/cemetery combination
ASD works with hundreds of cemeteries and mausoleums nationwide. Many of these are owned by clients who also have a funeral home business ASD supports. For these accounts, we utilize a special setting that our Call Specialists are trained to recognize as a funeral home and cemetery combination. Specific preferences for handling funeral home calls and cemetery calls are clearly defined on the account. Our Call Specialists learn how to differentiate calls for the funeral home and calls for the cemetery and to dispatch messages accordingly. They become familiarized with the proper terminology so they can easily identify and categorize each call. For instance, ASD operators are well aware that purchasing a cemetery plot in advance is not the same as creating a prearranged funeral policy.
“Having ASD ensures we never miss a call and ensures we can have face-to-face focus without being interrupted by the phone. We have extreme confidence that those calls will be answered by professionals. When families come in to make pre-arrangements or buy a cemetery marker, we are confident that if the phone rings, it will be answered both quickly and professionally.”-Mike Goddard, Lemke Funeral Home and Clinton Lawn Cemetery. (ASD client since 2014)
We issue a single account number, password and call forwarding number, providing the funeral home and cemetery staff with a user-friendly experience. However, all messages are indexed, labeled, and screened as either a funeral home or a cemetery call, making it simple for the office to assign ownership. In addition, we allow different on-call representatives to be defined for both funeral home and cemetery calls to ensure messages are always dispatched to the correct person.
4. The funeral home that needs to grow market share
It is so easy to overlook the role of communication in shaping a client’s first impression of a business. Most funeral directors are skeptical when they first hear that ASD can help them to grow their business. However, time and time again, we hear from our longtime clients how our answering service and mobile solutions empowered them to capture more business. We do this by helping funeral homes remain highly responsive to at-need families while giving them the tools they need to improve their shopper call outcomes.
“ASD’s use of technology is amazing. We are always available and well-represented no matter if we are in or out. The ability to interact with customers via our smart phones through the ASD Mobile app has helped us to look more professional and yet more personal. The fact that we can call someone and have it look like we are calling from our facility makes us look like we’re ‘always in’. Our goal is always to look as professional, responsive, and personal as possible. ASD helps us to meet that goal. Our business has definitely increased with the help of their professionalism. The more professional they help us to look, the more referrals we receive and the more our business grows.”– Frank Falk, Falk Funeral Home in Hellertown, PA. (ASD Client since 2001)
Here are just a few of the ways our answering service can be utilized by funeral homes who are focused on maximizing every business opportunity:
- Price Shopper Patching– ASD can patch price shoppers directly through to your on-call, ensuring that you do not miss an opportunity to serve families at their time of need. This ensures the director is not trying to track down the family after the fact while they are calling other funeral homes.
- Patched Call Recordings– Funeral home owners have the ability to review shopper calls that are directly patched to their staff, allowing them to listen to the complete recording of the call even after the ASD Call Specialist disconnects. This solution helps owners and their staff develop a consistent approach when handling shopper calls.
- MobileFH®– With ASD’s patented MobileFH®feature, funeral directors have the ability to call any number from the ASD Mobile app and have the funeral home number displayed on the outgoing Caller ID. The call is recorded and made available for future review within the app.
- First Call Alert™ & First Call Connect™– This highly customizable feature allows on-call funeral directors to receive an alert the moment ASD begins gathering information for a new first call. They then have several options to connect into the call-in-progress. This feature enhances customer service by allowing funeral homes to remain highly responsive to at-need families.
- Deep Archive– Messages handled by ASD are stored for up to 10 years in an archive system accessible online or via mobile app. The Deep Archive includes a handy search tool that allows funeral homes to search through messages by category. This makes it simple to track and follow up on pre-need and shopper calls.
5. The southern funeral home
For funeral homes located in the southern United States, having an answering service that sounds local to the area is an important concern. Many people who call a funeral home are older individuals that may be confused if a voice picks up that sounds too unfamiliar. Over the years, we have spoken to many funeral home owners in the southern United States who have shared with us how they wanted to use our answering service, but were nervous our Call Specialists’ northeastern accents might cause unnecessary confusion for their callers. In 2021, ASD was able to directly address this concern by investing in remote training systems, allowing our company to establish a dedicated southern team.
“I chose ASD as my funeral home’s answering service because of the awesome reviews, rigorous training, and extremely professional call specialists who handle our calls. They answer and handle our calls just like our staff members are trained.”-Kevin Klein, Miguez Funeral Home in Jennings, LA. (ASD client since 2008)
ASD’s remote southern team includes 70 Call Specialists based in SC along with more than 30 Call Specialists who are located in either NC, GA, AL, or TN. Our automatic call routing system ensures that funeral homes located in the “southern accented” portion of the United States will always have their calls handled by one of our Southern Team Call Specialists. Having the ability to offer funeral homes in the south the peace of mind of knowing their calls will be answered by someone sounding like they could be down the street is truly a gamechanger. Southern funeral home owners no longer have to feel obligated to work with a local company that cannot offer the same level of service as ASD.
6. The funeral home that just needs a little help from time to time
ASD is your funeral home’s safety net
It is so easy to miss an important phone call. You don’t have to be a careless person for it to happen. Yet, many funeral home owners make a deliberate decision to not forward lines to an answering service because they believe they are providing superior customer service to families by answering every call themselves. While these are certainly admirable intentions, it frequently results in callers being met with a voicemail system, busy signal or perpetually ringing phone. In the funeral business, a single missed call can cost you the trust of a family you have worked with for generations, while the cost of simply backing up your phone lines is minimal.
“With ASD, I have established a trustworthy answering system and back up in the event I don’t reach the phone in time. I can trust that they will speak to families the way I would and ask the questions I would ask.”-Matthew Gaskill, Gaskill-Brown Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Merchantville, NJ.(ASD Client since 2016)
ASD offers economical packages for funeral homes that only need to use us during times when they are busy or might otherwise miss an important call. We love to tell funeral homes about No Answer Call Forwarding, a convenient option available through local phone companies which enables you to have your phone lines diverted to ASD only if it is not answered in the funeral home after a predetermined number of rings. This is the ideal solution for funeral homes that prefer to answer most calls in-house but need a safety net of support. In addition, funeral homes that use us solely as a backup also have access to ASD’s exclusive array of mobile tools and text messaging solutions.
7. The multi-location funeral business
Funeral homes with multiple locations and numerous employees will appreciate the many options ASD provides to add convenience and flexibility to their daily routines. These tools provide everyone on the team access to a central communication portal that helps staff stay on the same page about everything going on across your locations.
ASD Mobile logs the location called for each message and provides a convenient Message Notes area where funeral home teams can communicate or assign ownership. A Re-Dispatch button offers a simple method for instructing ASD to reach a different employee with the message.”
“ASD allows our employees to communicate from multiple chapel locations without having to use the phone. We are able to transfer our phones at night and rest comfortably knowing that our phones are being answered the way we would want our company represented.”-Brandon Woody, J.T. Morriss & Son with locations in Chester, Hopewell, North Dinwiddie and Petersburg, VA. (ASD Client since 2006)
ASD provides a win-win solution for owners and staff alike. Having a convenient way to monitor activity across multiple locations gives funeral home owners more control and oversight of their after hours communication. On the other hand, on-call directors love having more streamlined options for screening calls, setting up their own contact preferences and sharing on-call information conveniently via ASD Mobile. The app is designed with a multitude of user-friendly options which can be customized for each client. Need to have a different employee on-call for each one of your locations? Not a problem! Want to set up a weekly default repeating schedule for ASD to follow? We make it simple! Owners and staff can also use the app to access ASD’s Deep Archive, which stores messages and call recordings for up to 10 years, allowing teams to easily search through their call history.
8. The funeral home serving the Hispanic community
For funeral homes who serve the Hispanic community, having an answering service that can meet the needs of their families isn’t just a consideration– it’s an absolute necessity. Over the past 15 years, ASD has worked diligently to attract and retain Spanish bilingual employees. Our Spanish-speaking team has now grown to more than 40 employees working every day of the week on every shift. ASD’s systems allow us to set up specific Call Specialist attributes for our clients, meaning that funeral homes who serve a high percentage of Spanish-speaking families will have their calls automatically routed to one of our bilingual agents. Our Call Specialists can even provide translation services during times when you may not have a bilingual staff member available at the funeral home.
“If it’s a First Call or if the person needs pricing and they only speak Spanish, ASD can assist us with the call. I have a bilingual employee or two working during the daytime, but at night we don’t. If someone speaking Spanish called us at 12 at night, I’d be in trouble without ASD there to translate for us. I think it’s a great service.”– Dave Lowery, Boyd Pancier Family Funeral Care in Hollywood, FL.
ASD’s Spanish Translation Services give our clients peace of mind knowing that no matter the time or day, if a Spanish-speaking family calls your funeral home, we will be able to assist with any translation services that are needed. These services can be utilized by ASD clients on an at-need basis. There is no special plan required to utilize this service, as we know how sporadic the need for translation services can be for some funeral homes.
9. The funeral home with a new website
In recent years, many funeral homes have put increased focus on using their website to engage with the community. With more families than ever searching online for information and using the web to connect, monitoring your online communication has never been more important.
Here are a few of the ways ASD helps funeral homes to meet their online goals:
FuneralSync™– ASD can fully integrate with the leading funeral home website providers, allowing you to automatically send us your current service when you update your website. Rather than having to log into various databases and copy/paste information into multiple fields, the data is automatically synced without any effort. When considering that each obit could take up to 5 minutes to enter, this integration saves funeral directors from hours of redundant work, not to mention the headaches saved by eliminating the chance for errors.
“FuneralSync is a great feature! It makes our life a lot simpler. We enter our service information in one program and it’s able to disperse to ASD with one click of a button.”–Joseph Bivona, Sinatra Family of Funeral Homes in Yonkers, NY.
Web Form WatchDog™– Most funeral home websites have a ‘Contact Us’ form instructing visitors to leave their information and reason for contacting. ASD’s Web Form WatchDog™ can help you become more responsive to submitted web forms by allowing ASD to monitor your funeral home’s web inquiries and immediately alert you when an urgent need is communicated.
Obit Texting – One of the most common reasons a person contacts a funeral home is to obtain funeral service information. ASD’s Obit Texting helps make obituary information more accessible while enhancing your funeral home’s brand. With Obit Texting, when someone calls the funeral home looking for service information, ASD will offer to send them a text message with all of the details from your website. This helps the caller while driving more traffic to your website, creating opportunities for visitors to explore other pages which can help increase pre-need leads or flower sales.
10. The funeral-related business
At conventions around the country, the ASD team is often given the opportunity to meet fellow exhibitors and learn about different organizations that contribute to funeral service. Many are very surprised to learn about the numerous ways our answering service can be customized to meet the needs of not only funeral homes, but funeral-related businesses. This is part of our company’s commitment to providing communication options and solutions to the entire death care profession. In addition to funeral homes, ASD also serves funeral-related businesses and organizations such as casket suppliers, pet cremation and burial societies, mortuary science colleges and limo companies. If you work in any field related to death care and receive phone calls, ASD has a solution in place for you.
“I can finally sleep easy, literally and figuratively, knowing that the capable staff at ASD can handle the questions and emotions of my families that call after hours. It has been the best improvement I have made to my business.”-John Tedder, Hamilton Pet Meadow in Hamilton, NJ. (ASD client since 2007)
Recently, we introduced an enhanced version of our message system that gives our clients the ability to fully customize how information is obtained from callers. Drop-down lists, conditional information fields, and special instructions can now easily be added to our message templates. This unrivaled functionality allows you to control the entire trajectory of any call we handle for you and oversee how message details are organized.
“No matter what direction the call takes, the operators are always polite, remain calm and offer assistance any way they can. A great, well-trained group. Very satisfied!”–Barbara Davidson, Mathie Funeral and Livery Service in Greenport, NY. (ASD client since 2003)
Using an answering service for your funeral-related business is a simple solution that can prevent missed calls, overlooked orders and lost clients. As we all know, the funeral profession is unlike any other. The 24/7 demands, coupled with the short timeframe to plan a service and final disposition, require directors to work only with the most responsive organizations. Automated systems are no longer enough to meet the needs of this profession as they so often cause frustration, unnecessary delays, and misunderstandings. ASD is the only company with the training and technology solutions in place to help funeral related businesses of all kinds enhance their communications to better serve the funeral profession.
Every funeral home has a unique history, business culture and relationship with the public. Since no two funeral homes are exactly alike, we have made customization and flexibility the hallmarks of our answering service. From larger, multi-location firms to smaller funeral homes in rural areas, ASD has solutions in place for just about every size firm and call scenario.
If you are interested in discovering how ASD can build a custom communication strategy for your funeral home, please contact our National Sales Manager, Craig Meehan, at 800-868-9950 or email Craig@myASD.com. If you are a current ASD client and want to learn more about how we can modify your account to better meet your needs, please contact our Client Solutions Team at 800-868-9950 ext. 5 or email solutions@myASD.com.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com