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40 Common Questions Funeral Directors Have About Answering Services

40 Common Questions Funeral Directors Have About Answering Services

Feb 06, 2017

Trust is a factor that plays into every business dealing at a funeral home. Experienced owners know they must be cautious and discerning when selecting vendors to represent their business. This is especially true when a funeral home is considering using an answering service for the first time, or switching to a different answering service provider. When considering how much time and marketing is invested in persuading families to contact the funeral home in their time of need, directors must be vigilant of their telephone activity and understand the potential value of every call.

At ASD, when a director contacts our company for the first time to learn about our service, we know there is only a very small percentage the funeral home will forward their phone lines to ASD that evening. Funeral professionals are not likely to make a rushed business decision, not when even the smallest mistake can exacerbate the emotional suffering of a family member. Confidence takes time to build. ASD offers every funeral home a 30-day Free Trial period, but we realize that cost is only one of many factors that directors consider when selecting an answering service. The primary concern is quality of service above all else, and evaluating this requires an increased amount of contact. Directors often have many questions to consider before trusting an outside company to handle their sensitive and valuable calls.

In most cases, a funeral home will begin forwarding to ASD after we have had an opportunity to become familiarized with the specific needs of the firm. We take time to get to know the funeral home and to identify which solutions would work best for their staff. By inviting funeral directors to share their concerns and reservations early on, ASD is better equipped to build a customized and tailored account for the funeral home that reflects the funeral home’s unique business model.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions ASD hears from funeral directors who are gathering information about our service. Click on any one of the question topics below access a specific section within our FAQ.

General

First Calls, Shopper Calls and Pre-Need

Contacting Procedures

Account Customization

Timesaving Tools

Web Solutions

Billing

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General

1. Tell me about your company.

ASD has created a new class of answering service for funeral professionals by raising the bar with unparalleled levels of advanced training and technology. Family Owned and Operated, ASD is the only answering service that exclusively serves the funeral profession with custom-built communication systems and sophisticated mobile tools designed solely to meet the needs of directors.

2. What percentage of calls handled by ASD are funeral home calls?

100%. ASD answers exclusively for funeral homes and funeral-related businesses. Some answering services will go to great lengths to give the impression they answer solely for funeral homes. These companies claim to be funeral specific, but in reality they answer for all types of businesses. ASD is different. Our staff will never be distracted by calls from doctor’s offices, tow truck drivers and other businesses unrelated to the funeral profession. By keeping our staff focused solely on the needs of funeral directors, our Call Specialists are better equipped to speak to families in need and more knowledgeable about the funeral profession than any other answering service in operation today.

3. Who are the owners of ASD?

Our company has been owned and operated by the Czachor family for more than 40 years. ASD’s founders, Martin and Barbara Czachor, recognized a void in the market for an answering service that catered to the specific needs of funeral professionals. Rather than becoming a generic, one-size-fits-all answering service, our defined mission statement has allowed us to grow through specialization and develop funeral-specific tools that no other service can offer. Today, the second generation of the Czachor family is dedicated to upholding the original goals set forth by their parents. ASD has expanded exponentially by continually exploring new solutions for our clients. By investing heavily in state-of-the art technology without sacrificing the personal touch of a small, family-owned business, ASD is now the leading answering service for funeral professionals.

4. How are your operators trained?

ASD's training emphasizes both compassion for callers and understanding the importance of helping the funeral home’s business to grow. Our rigorous, six-month training program reinforces patience and empathy. Interactive group training classes and one-on-one instruction are both used during the training program to help our new employees hone their skills and maintain our level of excellence. In order to take calls independently, new employees must be able to speak gently and professionally on the phone with the understanding that it may be the worst day of the caller's life. Additionally, trainees must demonstrate full comprehension of ASD's proprietary systems developed exclusively for funeral professionals by our company's technical team.

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First Calls, Shopper Calls and Pre-Need

5. How can I ensure I am the first point of contact for at-need families without having to answer every call myself?

ASD can set up your account so that at-need calls are immediately patched to the on-call director, ensuring families won’t hang up and call a different funeral home. The moment ASD begins to gather First Call information, you will receive a First Call Alert®, giving you time to prepare for the call. You can then connect into the call in progress by using our patented First Call Connect® feature, just as if they were picking up a second line at the funeral home.

7. As an owner, I need to remain aware of new at-need cases at my funeral home, even when I’m not on-call or am out of town. Is there a way to guarantee this?

ASD can ensure you remain connected by helping you to enable our First Call Report® setting. This exclusive feature notifies the owner or manager via text, email or push notification when a First Call is handled for the funeral home, even when others are on-call. After the on-call person receives a First Call, ASD would send you the complete message details and a recording of the call. The First Call Report® also displays each step taken to reach the on-call staff to help you stay on top of all business opportunities from any location.

8. I want to capture more preneed and pricing calls. How can ASD help me with this?

With ASD’s flexible programs, you have the ability to designate a preferred on-call person for pre-need and pricing calls. When a prearrangement question is asked, ASD can directly transfer the call to your funeral home’s designated pre-need counselor. Patching these calls allows the counselor to answer pre-need questions when families are in the right frame of mind to discuss end-of-life decisions. Preneed callers will always speak to the right person and the risk of the family being unreachable or not in the mood for discussion at a later time is eliminated. Report tracking can also be added to your account so that your staff can organize incoming messages into pre-need, at-need and pricing categories online or on ASD Mobile. This tool makes it simple for preneed specialists to easily monitor and follow up on these important calls.

9. We use transport companies to handle removals for First Calls that are reported after hours. How does ASD handle First Calls when a transport company is involved?

ASD has developed many customizable solutions to assist with coordinating the transportation of remains. Our Call Specialists can gather specific information the transport company must know before picking up the body. Additionally, ASD can contact a designated on-call person depending on the location of the deceased or the time of day. By customizing your funeral home’s on-call instructions, we can help ensure your funeral home’s specific protocol is always followed when a death is reported.

10. As a funeral home owner, I need to be able to track how many pricing and preneed inquiries result in new business for my funeral home in order to evaluate our business strategies. Can ASD track this data when my calls are forwarded?

With ASD’s new Deep Archive Message Search Tool, you can review all of the pricing, preneed and at-need calls handled by ASD. When ASD handles one of these calls, our Call Specialist know to label the message appropriately. Our Deep Archive Search Tool (available on myASD.com and ASD Mobile) displays all of the funeral home’s messages in a categorized list. Preneed, Pricing and at-need calls can be reviewed with ease. The Message Archive Search Tool also enables you to set a specific date range or to locate messages by key word when searching, making it simple to measure your close rate.

11. I’m looking for tools to help my staff improve their close rate on shopper calls. Does ASD offer anything that can help?

ASD offers a mobile tool for this that can help you with evaluating your staff’s performance on shopper calls. When ASD receives a shopper call, the on-call director can be automatically connected to the call in progress. The director’s entire conversation with the caller will then be recorded by ASD and made available to you through the ASD Mobile app, website and voicemail system. This is a great training tool for monitoring your staff’s customer service skills.

12. Keeping organized and documenting our cases is very essential to our funeral home. Do you have a simple solution for keeping track of new first calls?

Every time an ASD Call Specialist handles a new first call, a First Call Form is automatically created that includes all of the information gathered during the call. You can access these forms via myASD.com or ASD Mobile and update them with more details. First Call forms can also be emailed or printed for the registrar when filing for death certificates.

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Contact Preferences

13. During office hours, I would prefer for my funeral home staff to answer the phones, but sometimes they are tied up with other tasks and can’t get to the it in time. How can I make sure I don’t lose these calls?

Simply adjust your call forwarding settings to make sure your phone lines are automatically diverted to ASD when a call is not answered by the funeral home after a predetermined number of rings. This would provide your funeral home staff with added flexibility, allowing them to handle the calls when available while protecting the calls they are unable to answer. ASD can also create a special on-call schedule to ensure that urgent messages taken during business hours are dispatched to the funeral home’s non-listed office number. This gives the office a second layer of support, providing your staff with more peace of mind.

14. The schedule at my funeral home fluctuates quite a lot. How can I guarantee I stay connected without ASD interrupting my staff and I when we are busy?

ASD can provide your funeral home with the flexibility to customize your account’s contact preferences at anytime and control the type of messages that are dispatched to your on-call staff. During busier times, the funeral home can use a more restrictive check out option so that you are only contacted for First Calls and other time-sensitive issues.

15. Our funeral home has three generations working together. I use my smartphone quite often for business, but my father and grandfather are not comfortable with it. Could we still use ASD?

Absolutely! We understand that funeral homes require a range of communication options. Directors who prefer using technology to conduct business can use ASD’s mobile app and website to access and respond to their messages, send service details, update the on call and more. Directors who prefer to speak with a person can perform the same tasks by simply calling to talk to a supervisor 24/7 or utilizing ASD’s user-friendly voicemail system. There is no need for employees to be limited by their preferences as ASD can offer a workable solution for everyone.

16. I’m always getting calls from families on my personal cell phone. This can often cause headaches and confusion, especially if it is my day off. Does ASD have anything in place to help with this problem?

Using ASD’s patent-pending MobileFH® feature, you can display the funeral home’s main office line as your outgoing Caller ID when making calls from your cell phone. This ensures you will not be disturbed by business-related calls when off-duty. With MobileFH®, families will always recognize who is calling them and know what number they should call back, and you don’t have to worry about unintentionally offending someone by blocking your Caller ID. Best of all, you get to keep your cell phone number private without sacrificing level of service.

17. I’m a deep sleeper and I’m worried I might miss an important message from you overnight. Is there anyway to decrease the odds of this happening?

ASD can easily set up individual contacting instructions for you so that you are always contacted in the manner you most prefer. With the ASD Mobile app, you can control what time of night you are notified with a phone call and what time of day you are notified via text or push notification. These adjustments can be made with just a few quick swipes on ASD Mobile and will ensure that you are not bothered by a ringing telephone while awake, but will be alerted with a call if an urgent or at-need message is handled overnight.

18. Does ASD offer any solutions for funeral homes that have more than one employee on-call at once?

We have created a Re-Dispatch feature within the ASD Mobile app that allows you to easily notify ASD if you would prefer for us to contact a different employee with any message. The Re-Dispatch tool provides you with added flexibility to remain on-call without having to respond to every message. This feature can be activated from within both ASD Mobile and myASD.com. When the message is displayed, simply select Re-Dispatch and you will be prompted to select one of your funeral home's employees from a drop down menu. ASD will then contact the employee selected. If the selected employee has any text message, email or push notification preferences already set up, the call details will be sent out through these channels first and an ASD Call Specialist will follow up if no response is received from the selected employee.

19. Our funeral home uses a repeating weekly on-call schedule and we also have designated directors on-call for at-need and pre-need calls. Can ASD utilize our detailed schedule when dispatching calls?

ASD has developed a feature that can store your funeral home’s repeating schedule information in our company’s system. This ensures that the changing on-call information is updated automatically and you never have to worry about instructions being followed correctly. ASD can also provide additional options if needed, enabling you to designate an on-call director, removal service and pre-need counselor during certain times of day and have the schedule automatically update based on the type of call and time of day.

20. Our funeral home has several directors who share on-call duties each night. How can we make sure that everyone is always on the same page regarding new cases and urgent messages?

With the ASD Mobile app and ASD website, every one of your employee will be linked to a single communication center and can communicate online through one of our added tools. By recognizing each individual contact person, our app and website provides better user tracking and messaging between users. When a message is received and the on-call director needs to let another employee know how it was handled, instead of making an extra phone call, you can simply leave a note under the message. Our website and app can identify which director left the message and can even log multiple responses. This helps enhance inner office communication and keeps everyone on the same page.

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Account Customization

21. I don’t want my callers to have to be asked a lot of questions. I would prefer to ask those questions myself. Can ASD accommodate this?

Absolutely! Our custom-built systems enable you to tailor your account based on how you need your funeral home to be represented on the phone. You can decide what questions should be asked by ASD Call Specialists, control what information should be obtained when a death is reported and specify what phrases should be used during calls. This is just scratching the surface of the many different ways you can customize your account to ensure calls are answered entirely in a manner that reflects your funeral home’s standards.

22. I own both a funeral home and a cemetery. Calls for each business must be answered differently. How can we be sure this won’t cause confusion with your operators?

ASD uses a special account customization that our Call Specialists are trained to recognize as a funeral home and cemetery combination. We issue a single account number, password and call forwarding number, providing your 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. Specific preferences for handling funeral home calls and cemetery calls are clearly defined on the account.

23. I’m hesitant to use an answering service because the operators won’t sound knowledgeable about my local area. How does ASD address this concern?

With ASD, you can provide us with detailed information on local hospitals, nursing homes and other establishments via the ASD Mobile app or myASD.com website. The information would then be automatically added to ASD’s system and become visible to any Call Specialist handling a call for her funeral home. This ensures better quality of service when handling a new first call for someone who passed away at a facility. In addition, you can also add details about cemeteries, churches, hotels, and florists in your area, or use our Common Callers tool to provide details about callers who frequently contact the funeral home.

24. I have several funeral home locations, one of which is marketed as our low-cost cremation society brand. With two different funeral models, how can ASD ensure my calls are answered separately without making it difficult to manage our communications?

ASD could create two separate accounts for you while ensuring all of your locations remain linked together within the ASD Mobile app and myASD.com website portal. Instead of having to log in multiple times to check messages, you can utilize ASD’s Fast Login feature to log in to both ASD accounts simultaneously and switch back and forth without having to reenter login information. This will save you time while ensuring your calls are always answered according to your specifications.

25. I live in a diverse region and often receiving calls from Spanish-speaking families. I’ve lost business due to my current service being unable to communicate with Spanish-speaking callers. How can I make sure these calls are protected 24/7?

Over the past decade, ASD has worked diligently to attract and retain bilingual employees. Our Spanish-speaking team has grown to more than 30 employees. When a person calls and begins speaking Spanish, they will immediately be transferred to one of our bilingual Call Specialists who will take their message and relay it to the on-call person. We can even offer translation services if needed. With the expansion our bilingual team, you can protect calls from Spanish families while working with a company that caters to the specific needs of funeral professionals.

26. I live in a small farming town where everyone knows one another. We are always getting personal calls or calls related to our in-house florist. How can we ensure our callers are treated personably and that your staff understands our small community?

ASD can personalize the any account with important notations, instructions and procedures. Your funeral home would likely want to take advantage of ASD’s Common Callers tool, which enables our clients to create a list of people who contact the funeral home on a routine basis. You can also provide instructions on how to handle these recurring calls. When a caller inquires about a florist recommendation, ASD will offer details on the funeral home’s in-house florist, including hours of operation, website, phone number or any other specific instructions. Our Call Specialists are trained to understand when a situation falls outside of the norm and constitutes an emergency. If, for instance, a funeral home were notified that their cows were on the loose, ASD’s staff would recognize this as an urgent message and notify the director without delay.

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Timesaving Tools

27. My staff is always on-the-go and I want to make it as easy as possible for them to stay connected to the business when they are mobile without being distracted by incoming calls. Does ASD offer a solution for this?

ASD can give your funeral home staff added time to confirm receipt of incoming messages without being contacted via phone call. We can send the on-call directors a push notification and/or text message and wait a predetermined number of minutes before dialing any number to dispatch the message. Instead of being charged for outgoing calls, directors can respond via ASD Mobile, text-message or myASD.com. This option reduces the funeral home’s billable calls while providing much needed freedom from telephone disruptions.

28. I need to be able to send information on our current services to ASD quickly. I don’t want my staff tied up by having to type that information twice. What options are available?

In addition to accepting new service information via our website, mobile app, fax and voicemail system, ASD also has a FuneralSync™ program in place that allows you to instantly and effortlessly send us your service information. With ASD’s FuneralSync™, you can automatically transfer service information between ASD and your funeral home website, saving time. This would eliminate the need for any duplicate data entry and reduce typing errors. To activate FuneralSync™, you would just need to contact your website provider and ask them to activate the integration with ASD.

29. I receive so many solicitor calls that waste my time. Does ASD have any solutions for screening or blocking calls from telemarketers?

Our Solicitor Shield™ feature allows you to instantly block numbers from telemarketers. Whether it is a pushy salesperson, a rude caller or someone you simply do not wish to speak with, Solicitor Shield™ helps you to easily prevent unwanted calls from getting through while phone lines are forwarded to ASD. This also ensures you are never charged for these incoming calls. You can easily add multiple numbers to your Solicitor Shield™ block list through ASD’s website and mobile app.


30. When I’m on-call, I often find myself sending multiple messages out to my co-workers to keep them informed of what’s going on overnight. Is there a simpler way to accomplish this?

Yes there is! With ASD Mobile's ‘Share’ button (located at the bottom of every message), you can instantly send information from any message with your phone’s contacts. With a quick tap, you can copy all of the message details as well as the complete call recording and choose from several different options for sending the message, including email, text message, or social media. Through this feature, you can quickly send out a group message with all of the call details to the entire staff to get a message out to everyone at once.

31. If I really like, or really don’t like, how a call was handled by ASD, is there an easy system for sending feedback?

Absolutely, our clients can easily leave a compliment, concern or comment on any call in just a few quick taps using our exclusive CareTracker™ feature. This helpful tool can be accessed from within both our mobile app and website. While an ASD Supervisor is just a phone call away 24/7, CareTracker™ was created to give you a second option for sending ASD feedback without having to make a call. Comments and concerns that are sent via CareTracker™ are then copied immediately to an ASD Superviser who will carefully review the call. The Supervisor will then reach out to let you know what actions were taken in response to your comment. This streamlines the customer service process while helping you to instantly communicate your feedback to ASD with very little effort. You can also access your CareTracker™ comments online to track the status of any reported issues.

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Web Solutions

32. I recently invested in a new website for our funeral home. How can I connect with families in need who are visiting our site in real-time without any delay?

With ASD’s Web Chat feature, your funeral home’s website visitors will see a Web Chat button on your funeral home’s site. They will be able to easily communicate their needs to an ASD Call Specialist who can provide information or take a detailed message for the funeral home. If the Web Chat is regarding an urgent matter, the on-call director can be instantly alerted that there is an urgent Web Chat in progress via ASD’s Web Chat Alert™ feature. The director can then access ASD’s mobile app or website to instantly join the chat in progress via our Web Chat Connect™ feature. These interactive features allow you to answer questions from website visitors in real time while ensuring you are only notified for the types of web chats you deem urgent.

33. Our funeral home has a ‘Contact Us’ form on our website, but we have missed time-sensitive leads because the information is sent to our email and we don’t always see it right away. Does ASD have a solution for this?

With ASD’s new Web Form feature enabled, the ASD Mobile app can alert you the moment a new form is submitted on your site. If you do not respond within a predetermined time, we can then follow up with a phone call, ensuring you do not miss an opportunity to serve a family in need.

34. We have several employees working at our funeral home who are never on call but still require access to call recordings and other information obtained by ASD. Will they be able to access that information on your website?

ASD has developed a Web User feature so funeral home owners could give other employees access to ASD’s internal website. Once you have logged on to our website, you can add, edit or delete a web user to provide access to myASD.com. If there are multiple staff members who require access to the site but are not listed as on-call contacts, such as administrative support, you can create a single web user that all of these employees may use to log on.

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Billing

35. How does ASD’s billing system work?

ASD offers all new clients a Free, 30-Day FREE trial period. This gives us an opportunity to evaluate your call volume and recommend a billing call plan based on this data. We give you the flexibility to change this anytime and proactively reach out if we notice that your call plan needs to be higher or lower. ASD’s system allows you to greatly reduce your outgoing calls by using our technology. By responding to urgent messages via text, email, website link or push notification, you can reduce your billable calls while also eliminating unnecessary telephone distractions.

36. Budgeting and monitoring overhead costs is very important to our funeral home. How will ASD help us keep track of our answering service usage?

ASD provides you with access your funeral home’s usage stats 24/7. Our clients can log onto the ASD website to see the number of incoming calls and outgoing dial outs handled by ASD as well as the number of calls that were directly patched to the staff. This can help you determine if your call volume has increased or decreased and decide if you need to make any adjustments to your ASD call plan. You’ll also be able to monitor if your funeral home staff is using ASD’s technology to decrease the number of billable outgoing dial outs.

37. Do you require new clients to sign a term contract?

Absolutely not. You can cancel service anytime, penalty free. While our goal at ASD is to work with our clients until the day they retire, we believe our level of service will keep clients coming back, not fear of contractual obligations. ASD’s defined company objectives help us remain focused on developing new solutions for the death care profession. We have been able to achieve success without ever needing to lock our clients into a binding contractual agreement.

38. I’m looking to eliminate unnecessary paper waste at our funeral home and save time. Does ASD offer an easy online billing system to clients?

ASD offers our clients several convenient, paperless billing options. You have the option to receive your monthly billing statement via email or from myASD.com You can also sign up for ASD’S Auto Pay option to ensure your monthly payment is automatically deducted each month. These options allow funeral homes to streamline office tasks without any unnecessary paperwork.

39. Does ASD offer any special discounts or rebates?

By working with ASD Rewards Partners you can dramatically reduce your ASD bill, while improving the experience a family has in dealing with your funeral home. In keeping with our tradition of excellence, only the best organizations are accepted by ASD as Partners. Much time has been invested in getting to know the individuals who run these businesses. We have thoroughly researched their levels of service. The ASD Rewards Partners provide a variety of ways to earn credits towards your ASD bill. ASD clients have received over $100,000 in Rewards Program credits simply by working with one or more of our trusted Rewards Partners. With enough credits, you could greatly reduce or even eliminate your entire ASD bill.

40. Do you offer any incentive for referring another funeral home?

ASD's greatest promoters have always been our current clients. As a way to show our appreciation to funeral professionals who recommend our service to their colleagues, we award our clients with $150 referral bonus for every funeral home they refer to ASD.

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Do you have a question about answering services, funeral communications, or ASD that is not listed on our FAQ? Please share your question with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.



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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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