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2017 Year In Review: Highlights and Milestones

Jan 08, 2018

That’s a wrap! The curtain has fallen on 2017 and we, for one, are tired of all those headlines proclaiming it as the “worst year ever.” Didn’t they say that about 2015 and 2016 too? Sometimes, people forget just how much joy and inspiration 365 days can bring to their lives. Here at ASD, we believe every year we serve funeral directors is better than the one before because we are blessed with the best clients any company could ask for. We hope you are looking forward to a 2018 filled with wonderful adventures and many successes.

The beginning of a new year is always filled with new possibilities, resolutions and goals for the future. For us, this is a time for brainstorming new ideas for the year ahead and different ways we can better serve your needs. We plan to make 2018 our most innovative year yet with new features in the works that will give you better options for controlling your outgoing Caller ID, enhanced technologies to provide more flexibility when forwarding phone lines, and added tools to save you time. If you’re a funeral director who spends even one day out of the year on-call, you’re going to want to pay attention to ASD announcements in 2018. We always have something new in the works and don’t believe in slowing down when it comes to finding ways to make life easier for our clients.

As we look forward to an exciting and innovative year here at ASD, we’ve taken some time to look back on all the significant moments and major milestones from last year. Here is our 2017 Year in Review:

2017: Year By Number

Last Year, ASD...

► Handled 570,358 First Calls, representing 3.8 billion dollars in potential revenue for our clients

► Assisted with more than 21% of all deaths reported in the U.S.

► Received more than 60,000 Shopper Calls

► Handled more than 20,000 calls on our busiest day of the year. This occurred on July 17th when many funeral homes across the country were impacted by tropical storms.

►Handled a total of 19,132 calls during Winter Storm Stella, including more than 1,600 First Calls, with ASD staff answering 94% of calls on 1st ring and 99% by the 4th ring.

Provided mobile support to 15,490 ASD Mobile for Apple users

Provided mobile support to 5,179 ASD Mobile for Android users

► Connected more than 180,700 MobileFH™ calls

► Sent more than 6.3 million ASD Mobile Push Notifications

► Sent more than 3.6 million text messages

► Saved our clients unnecessary expenses by blocking 237,779 Robo calls with Solicitor Shield™

► Automatically transferred more than 310,000 obituaries via FuneralSync™, saving funeral professionals approximately 20,000 hours of redundant work.

► Handled more than 2,600 Web Chats

► Received our third NFDA Innovation Award for our Suicide Telephone Operator Patch (S.T.O.P.) System, which was selected as the winner among 26 entries

►Held CE classes in our office that were attended by more than 30 local funeral directors

► Attended over 40 conventions and conferences across the country

► Participated in a dozen different TEAM ASD events

► Exercised on ASD's Treadmill Work Station and Recumbent Bike Stations for more than 6,000 miles, the equivalent of walking from New Jersey to California and back again.

► Donated more than $6000 to charities selected this year for ASD's "Exercise for a Cause Program," including United for Puerto Rico, Providence Animal Center, The Breathing Room Foundation, CADES, PA Veterinary Foundation (The Last Chance Fund) and the Make a Wish Foundation

►Helped countless grieving children find comfort by supporting Camp Erin initiatives, including the Care to Carry On 5K at the Philadelphia Zoo

►Donated 137lbs of food for Loaves and Fishes, our local food pantry, in memory of ASD Supervisor, Bob Gordon

►Helped remove more than 8,000 lbs of garbage at United By Blue’s Delaware Waterfront Cleanup

► Donated hundreds of school supplies to Cradles to Crayons – an organization that provides children with essentials they need.

► Helped thousands of animals at Providence Animal Center by clearing dog trails, planting flowers, washing carriers, weeding the dog park and visiting with animals.

►Raised $2,500 in support of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation in conjunction with the Starry Night Run/Walk at the Philadelphia Navy Yard

►Donated over 40 pints of blood during ASD’s Blood Drive for the American Red Cross

►Created 220 Christmas cards and collected items for 5 donations boxes, which were sent to U.S. military serving overseas during the holidays through Operation Shoebox.

► Provided countless hours of family time to our clients as we help with answering their callers’ needs.

2017: A Year of Giving Back at ASD

Whether it was through our “Exercise for a Cause Program”, donation drives or volunteer days, Team ASD supported more than 15 charities in 2017 . Here’s a look at the different organizations we helped this year. We are so proud of our staff's generosity, kindness and team spirit! 2018 will certainly be another year of giving back for us here at ASD!

2017 Perfect Attendance

Please join us in congratulating our employees who achieved Perfect Attendance in 2017. Attaining a year of perfect attendance at ASD is no easy feat - to be recognized with this award, you cannot be absent or late, even by one minute. This important “on time” rule ensures that the office is never short staffed and allows us to provide the most consistent and reliable service available. We are proud of the dedication of our employees and commend them for their exemplary performances.

2017 Major Milestones

January:

ASD’s FuneralSync™ Program Reaches 10 Year Anniversary

On Tuesday, January 10th, ASD's FuneralSync™ integration feature reached a significant milestone. The feature, which allows our clients to automatically sync their software and websites to ASD's systems, was first introduced to the funeral profession on this date, making it officially a decade old. The first version of the tool was a somewhat manual process that allowed for transfer of some very basic information. Over time, this feature, now known as FuneralSync™, has evolved to become the most flexible integration tool available to directors. Today, thousands of funeral homes nationwide utilize FuneralSync™ to save time, reduce data entry errors and operate more efficiently. More than a quarter of a million obituaries are automatically transferred over to ASD through FuneralSync™ each year.

Local Funeral Directors Earn CE Credits at ASD Event

More than 30 funeral directors from PA, DE and NJ attended ASD's Continuing Education classes held in our office on January 26. We had the pleasure of hosting Cremation Specialist, Julie Burn, who kicked off the event with her class, Making The Connection with Cremation Phone Shoppers . The second class was taught by ASD Vice President and Family-Member owner, Kevin Czachor. Kevin provided a crash course on using your smartphone to better serve families. A big thank you to all of the funeral directors who attended! We're glad to make it easier for everyone to earn their CE required credits in a convenient location and enjoy the opportunity it gives us to spend quality time with our clients and friends!

February:

ASD Celebrates the Love of Funeral Director Couples

In February, ASD spotlighted funeral home marriages in honor of Valentines Day. Marriages in the funeral profession demonstrate a visible strength and resiliency. The lifestyle of funeral service work requires these couples to constantly stretch their boundaries, tolerate constant interruptions and embrace the unpredictable. Few vocations require as much sacrifice and adaptability as funeral service work. ASD spotlighted many amazing examples of funeral couples who gained strength in their marital relationship by working together as a team rather than letting these factors put a strain on their marriage. Click here to see the spotlight on our blog.

ASD Mobile for Android Updated With New Features and Enhanced Design

ASD introduced a newly enhanced version of ASD Mobile for Android in February of 2017. The update delivered a completely new and fresh look to our existing Android app and offered many new tools and settings to the OS platform. From expanded on-call options to web chat integration, this enhancement gave Android users access to all of ASD’s most advanced mobile features.

March

MobileFH™ Receives Official Patent from U.S. Patent Office

In early March, ASD received word from the United States Patent Office that our MobileFH™ smartphone solution had been issued an official patent. MobileFH™ is an innovative telecommunication solution that allows users to control their outgoing Caller ID. With MobileFH™, funeral professionals can simply tap on any number within the ASD Mobile app, tap on the funeral home number and the call will be connected displaying the funeral home’s number as the outgoing Caller ID. This is achieved by connecting the call through ASD’s system. The call will then be recorded and made available to the client, giving directors the ability to evaluate their staff’s telephone customer service skills. This unrivaled feature is only available through ASD. It was developed by our in-house Technology Team specifically to enhance communications between on-call funeral directors and the families they serve while keeping their personal cell phone number private. Click here to learn more.

ASD Employees Go Above and Beyond During Winter Storm Stella

Winter Storm Stella was the biggest and most widespread snowstorm of 2017, impacting more than 13 states on the East Coast and nine states in the Midwest. Many funeral homes throughout the country were affected by power outages and hazardous road conditions. Our clients rely on us more than ever during major weather events. For this reason, ASD is always vigilant about tracking and preparing ahead. Our answering service performed at full capacity before, during and after Winter Storm Stella moved through our area with our staff answering 94% of calls on 1st ring and 99% by the 4th ring!

ASD promotes an all-hands-on-deck approach during major weather events when we can anticipate a higher than normal call volume. Employees in our billing, sales and marketing teams were called upon to help answer calls during Winter Storm Stella. While some of our staff worked remotely from home, others camped out over night at ASD. We are incredibly fortunate to have a team of hardworking and dedicated Call Specialists that understand how important it is for families to speak to someone immediately when they call a funeral home. So many of our employees stepped up to work extra hours during Winter Storm Stella in order to ensure ASD was fully protected throughout the storm. Click here to learn more about how we prepared in advance for this event.

APRIL

Team ASD Attends Annual ICCFA Convention

In April, the ASD team traveled to Nashville to attend the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association’s Annual Convention and Expo. It was so delightful to spend quality time with everyone attending the convention. We also loved exploring "the city that music calls home", seeing the latest trends in our profession and listening to the insightful speakers. We learned a lot of valuable information this year from the funeral professionals in attendance, other vendors, the wonderful keynote speakers and our own team. Upon our return, we shared many of these insights in our recap blog post.

May

ASD’s Blog Celebrates Funeral Home Gardens

What does a funeral home garden look like? The answers are as unique and distinct as every life memorialized within the walls of each building. From sprawling trees with colorful blossoms to manicured flowerbeds, there are so many stunning examples of unique funeral home landscaping. We asked our clients to share their horticultural talents with us and were amazed by some of the incredible photos that were shared.

Illinois Funeral Directors Association Names ASD as Preferred Provider of Answering Services

In May, ASD joined the Illinois Funeral Directors Association’s Preferred Partner Benefit Program. This partnership program invites association members to take advantage of exclusive savings from top tier funeral home companies. The IFDA invested a great deal of time and research evaluating ASD's services, technology and history before partnering with our company. As part of this partnership, ASD now offers IFDA members an extended, 8-Week Free Trial of our services with all set- up fees waived when they come on service with ASD. Learn more.

June

ASD Celebrates 7 Years of First Call Connect

On June 1st, ASD’s First Call Connect™ reached a significant milestone. The patented feature, which allows funeral directors to be connected into a First Call in progress, was first introduced seven years ago on this date. First Call Connect™ is the only answering service tool that allows funeral directors to serve at-need families in real-time regardless of location or time of day. Thousands of funeral directors rely on this feature to provide a more personal touch to families who have just suffered the loss of a loved one.

ASD Mourns the Loss of Beloved Training Supervisor, Bob Gordon

June was a very difficult month for us here at ASD as we reacted to the shocking news that our beloved Training Supervisor, Bob Gordon, had passed away unexpectedly. Bob was loved by all of his colleagues and held in high esteem for his strong work ethic, gracious personality and caring heart. His influence on our company and those he worked with continues to be felt today. In the aftermath of Bob's passing, ASD employees collected more than 135 lbs of food for our local food pantry, Loaves and Fishes. This cause was very important to Bob and was mentioned in his obituary, so it was important to us to pay tribute to his memory by helping others.

When we lose one of our own, the impact is felt by everyone on a very deep level. While our employees handle calls involving loss every day, there is no way to prepare for the sudden absence of a beloved colleague and friend. As ASD’s full-time Training Supervisor, Bob was not only a co-worker, but also a close friend and confidant to everyone he worked with. We are thankful to everyone who reached out to us after Bob’s passing to express their heartfelt condolences. We are truly appreciative of the outpouring of support we have received and feel grateful to work in a profession characterized by such compassion.

July

New Recruitment Video Highlights ASD’s Company Culture

In July, ASD was pleased to share a new recruitment video that outlined many of the reasons our employees find working here rewarding. Walking in to ASD’s Operations Center, it is obvious that our company is much more than a Call Center. We are truly a family. As the video explains, the strong rapport and enduring friendships between our employees is supported by ASD’s positive workplace culture.

August

Suicide Operator Telephone Patch (S.T.O.P.) System Selected as Finalist for NFDA Innovation Award

ASD received word in early August that a distinguished panel of NFDA judges had selected our Suicide Telephone Operator Patch System (S.T.O.P) as one of the five finalists for the 2017 Innovation Award. This prestigious award is given annually to a funeral service vendor whose product or service was introduced during the previous year and represents creativity, innovation and excellence. To receive the 2017 nomination was especially meaningful because we were recognized for a feature that was invented by ASD solely to help those in crisis.

TEAM ASD’s Cradles To Crayon’s Donation Drive and Volunteer Day

In August, TEAM ASD held a donation drive in support of Cradles to Crayons - an organization that provides children with essentials they need. Our staff donated hundreds of school supplies and many of our employees also volunteered in the Cradles to Crayons Giving Center to help unpack boxes, sort donations and create colorful signs. It was so rewarding to be able to spend time together while contributing to such an important cause. We are so proud of the generosity of our staff and plan to hold many more ASD Volunteer events like this in 2018!

September

More than 40 Pints of Life-Saving Blood Collected at ASD’s Blood Drive

On September 7th, ASD held our first ever company-wide Blood Drive for the American Red Cross in our office conference room. More than 40 of our employees signed up to donate and nearly forty pints in total were collected. Did you know that three lives may be saved for every one pint of blood donated? We believe every blood donor is a hero. We thank all of our staff who donated and to everyone who volunteered to help with our first company blood drive.

Team ASD Volunteers at Local Animal Shelter

In September, TEAM ASD pitched in to help out our local animal shelter, Providence Animal Center. More than 30 employees volunteered their time sorting donations, planting flowers and weeding/raking the dog park. It was wonderful to spend time together while giving back! It was also so rewarding to visit with all of the sweet animals in the shelter. They were great motivators who reminded us why it’s so important to support your local animal shelter. A few animals even found forever homes with ASD employees!

October

ASD Wins 2017 NFDA Innovation Award for S.T.O.P System

At the end of October, the ASD team traveled to Boston for the annual National Funeral Directors Association's Convention. During the Opening General Session on October 29, NFDA President Ashley Cozine announced that for the third time, ASD was the recipient of the NFDA Innovation Award. To receive this year’s award is especially meaningful for us here at ASD because we were recognized for our Suicide Telephone Operator Patch (S.T.O.P) System, a communication tool created by ASD solely to help those who are suffering to get the support they need. Click here to learn more about how this system works and what lead us to create it.

ASD Vice President and Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor, accepting the 2017 NFDA Innovation Award from NFDA Past President, Ashley Cozine

Many funeral directors approached us after the announcement to express their appreciation for ASD’s S.T.O.P System. Some directors shared stories with us of cases they have handled that have involved suicide. This is clearly an issue that has touched the funeral profession on a personal level. Many directors stated that they felt greater peace of mind knowing ASD could help connect these callers to qualified suicide prevention operators, and one director even shared a story about a caller whose life was saved because of ASD’s S.T.O.P System. Hearing this story made us grateful to be in a position where we can help others and make a real difference with our technology.

ASD Pledges Support to Funeral Service Foundation

During the NFDA Convention Opening Session, ASD Family-Member Owner and Treasurer, Kathy Kelley, spoke about ASD's commitment to supporting the next generation of funeral professionals through scholarship funding. ASD made a 5-year pledge to support the Funeral Service Foundation in it's mission to help future funeral directors gain the tools, resources and education needed to make positive impacts in their communities.

November

Team ASD’s Starry Night Run/Walk Event

On Saturday, November 4th, more than 50 ASD employees, family members and friends took part in the Starry Night Philadelphia Run/Walk at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. This annual event is held to raise support for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation in their mission to end childhood brain tumors. The Starry Night 5K gives hope to children and their families fighting the deadliest form of childhood cancer. This cause is very close to our hearts, so we were very grateful for an opportunity to help raise funds and awareness. Team ASD was one of the biggest groups to ever participate in the event. While some of our staff ran and some walked, everyone worked together to help TEAM ASD raise $2,500 in support of the Foundation which will do a great deal to help the 28,000 children living in the United States with a brain tumor diagnosis.

December

ASD Honors Longtime Employees With “Year of Excellence” Awards

ASD's Annual Christmas Luncheon was extra special this year as we recognized our long-time employees who have worked for our company for 10 years or longer. These dedicated members of our staff were each given a "Year of Excellence" Award that commemorates their ASD milestone anniversary. Our staff always looks forward to ASD's Annual Christmas Luncheon, which brings together our most experienced employees from every department. Click here to see our full photo album on Facebook.

ASD’s Suicide Operator Patch System Activated Three Times in Single Week

As funeral directors know, the Christmas season can be a difficult time of year for many people. During the week between Christmas and New Years Day, ASD Call Specialists spoke to three different people who were contemplating taking their own lives. In all three cases, we were able to seamlessly transfer the call to a Suicide Hotline operator without ever putting the person on hold by activating our Suicide Telephone Operator Patch (S.T.O.P) System. We created this system with the hope that it would never need to be used, but with the knowledge that these calls unfortunately do occur and require specialized attention. Most people wouldn’t expect a phone call to a funeral home to save a life, but that’s exactly what ASD hopes to do with the S.T.O.P. System.


2018 will be the year ASD provides an enhanced level of service through new technology, training and efficiencies. We have some innovative solutions on the horizon so be on the look out for some exciting news from ASD this year! What features would you most like to see from ASD in the future? Leave us a comment and let us know how we can help make 2018 a great year for your funeral home.



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About The Author

Jess Fowler

Jess 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.Fowler@myASD.com


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