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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.


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


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