7 Bad Communication Habits that Waste Funeral Professionals Time
Sep 21, 2021
Sometimes, there’s a good argument to be made for the old way of doing things. The texture of a book’s pages can never be replaced by a screen. The sound of a vinyl playing on a record player is how music should be heard. Yet sometimes, we cling to outdated practices and methods not out of nostalgia, but because the new way seems too intimidating or time consuming to learn. That old adage, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” seems like a winning business philosophy to many.
The problem with adopting this mindset is there is a lot of gray area in how you define “broken.” Just because something is functional does not make it practical. After all, that old VCR you have in your attic might not technically be broken, but do you really want to go back to the days of having to rewind everything before you watch it? New technology solutions often seem like unnecessary complications at first, but in the long run, they deliver something we all desperately need: more free time.
Many of the communication processes utilized by funeral homes across the country date back to the time before mobile technology was introduced. These routines may be more comfortable to some due to their familiarity, but they waste valuable time by requiring funeral professionals to manually complete tasks that could be done automatically. Actions such as making additional phone calls, keeping handwritten notes or entering data into multiple software programs result in major inefficiencies and miscommunication among funeral home teams.
For those that work in the funeral profession, time management skills will always be crucial. Breaking these bad habits can help you increase productivity, eliminate time wasters and become a better communicator.
1. Habit: Carrying a pen and notepad on you at all times to transcribe messages
The better solution: Keep information at your fingertips with mobile technology
We can’t tell you how many times we have called a funeral director with an urgent message only for him or her to tell us they need a moment to pull over to the side of the road so they can write down the message (or, worse yet, try to write the message down while driving). This is usually after our Call Specialist has offered to send the information in a text message.
We get it. After decades of being tethered to that old legal pad and pen, the habit becomes second nature. Yet, those few minutes you routinely spend writing down information that can be easily accessed on your mobile device can add up to a lot collectively. It also delays the funeral home’s response time to families. Handwritten notes are not only unnecessary time wasters, they also result in costly mistakes. Keeping important details, such as information gathered by ASD on death calls, accessible to everyone your team significantly reduces the risk of miscommunication. (Added bonus: you also save on the cost of office supplies and save a few trees in the process!)
“When all the death call info is typed, we can refer back to it without having to listen to the entire call. When driving, text messages allow me time to get off the road to take the info. It's nice to have them all listed so days later I can look over the information on calls and be sure everything was taken care of.”-Julianna Kunselman, Hill & Kunselman Funeral Home in Beaver Falls, PA.
2. Habit: Calling your answering service to check messages or update on call information (or worse…still using a pager!)
The better solution: Communicate in seconds with the touch of a button
As much as you love talking to your answering service (and we love talking to you too!), these days you have far too much on your plate to worry about having to make another phone call. Yet, there are still a surprisingly high number of funeral directors today who still call in to have their messages read to them or to convey on-call information. There are even some still using an old pager, despite the fact that these devices are notoriously unreliable, intrusive and do not offer two-way communication.
ASD offers several convenient solutions that allow you to communicate with us instantly, saving you from having to make unnecessary phone calls. These features also save you money on your ASD bill because they reduce the number of billable calls we handle for your funeral home.
Message Reply: Respond to your ASD messages via a quick tap on our mobile app or by replying to our text message. You can also use our mobile app to keep track of all new messages handled for your funeral home. Need help with kicking this habit? We’ve got you covered. Watch the video below for a convenient, step-by-step walk through of how to use our technology to respond to messages.
Updating On-Call Information: Send ASD your daily on-call information in seconds via our website or mobile app anytime, day or night. Watch our video below to see how. (To save even more time, you can also set up a repeating weekly or monthly on-call schedule. This only takes a few minutes and can save you from making hundreds of phone calls throughout the year to give ASD your on-call information.)
“The ASD Mobile app has been an asset to doing business. Messages are grouped into one place. We have the ability to listen to the message on the go and being able to check messages or update on-call without phoning in or accessing a computer has given me a lot more free time- a rarity in this industry.”-Eric Krajewski, Lajoie Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Madawaska, ME.
3. Habit: Maintaining a complicated, hard copy record system
The better solution: Keep records easily accessible via a mobile device
Whether it’s a family member needing a copy of an itemized bill from a funeral handled five years ago or a life insurance agent requesting a social security number, funeral homes are often flooded with requests that require a search through the archives. These inquiries will only increase the longer a funeral home stays in operation. If your current system for locating old records is not up-to-date and streamlined, it can turn a routine request into a time-consuming nightmare. Finding ways to organize and categorize your file documents to make looking up any record a fast and easy process.
ASD provides a Deep Archive search feature to help you break your hard copy habits. You can use this tool to locate call recordings and messages handled for you by ASD within the past nine years Search by name, phone number or key word. You can filter messages using a date range or categories, such as ‘prearrangement calls.’ The ASD Mobile app will also show you a call history for any phone number archived, allowing you to quickly locate important messages we handled for your funeral home in the past. Watch our video below to see this feature in action.
“As a new director, I appreciate the ability to look back over old calls and records to help me remember different families. It's made me better able to serve my clients. I feel as though overall inter-office communication is more thorough and complete, especially regarding calls that come in overnight.”-Anne Christ, Bradshaw Funeral & Cremation Services in Saint Paul, MN.
4. Habit: Sending out numerous texts and emails to keep staff on the same page
The better solution: Use team collaboration technology
Research has found that poor communication costs small businesses $420k annually and 40 minutes of productivity per employee each day. The effort of having to keep everyone in the loop can be burdensome, yet it is imperative to touch base and make sure everyone is aware of current cases, pending deadlines and upcoming appointments. Rather than wasting valuable time sending messages out to multiple employees and running the risk that something may be overlooked, you should use mobile technology to streamline your communication tasks.
Group text messages or team manager apps like Asana Mobile can help you to easily and effectively communicate important information to your team. You can also share your location on your cell phone during funeral processions, removals or other times when your colleagues might need to keep track of your location.
ASD Mobile’s team collaboration tools were specifically designed to help funeral home teams stay connected. Here are a few ways we can enhance your funeral home’s internal communication:
- Share Message: At the bottom of every message you can access our 'Share' tool, which allows you to instantly send messages handled by ASD and call recordings to any contact on your phone via text message, email or social media. With this feature, you can quickly send your entire staff a group message about a new case or appointment with all of the particulars included.
- Re-Dispatch Message: Use our convenient Re-Dispatch feature to let ASD to know to contact a different staff member with a message, saving you from having to make an unnecessary phone call.
- Message Notes: When a message is received and you need to communicate with another director how it was handled, instead of making an extra phone call, simply leave a note under the message via our Message Notes tool. The system can easily identify which director left the message and can even log multiple responses.
“Life before the ASD Mobile app looks very different from life with the app. For one thing, reaching our staff with messages can be pin-pointed to a single on-call staff member, with messages going straight to a phone. Or, calls can be sent to multiple users so that the weight of being on call can be shared. If a call comes in that needs to reach another staff member, I can forward it to them within the app, or use the app to ask ASD to keep trying to reach the other staff member with the message. If I am not on call, I can inform ASD of that from within the app and I can even turn off notifications if I don't want to be bothered. The ASD Mobile app is tailor made for funeral directors. A perfect solution for our career and lifestyle.”-Scott Macy, Hultgren Funeral Home in Wheaton, IL
5. Habit: Entering the same data into multiple software platforms
The better solution: Seek out integrated solutions
Unless you’re taking a keyboarding class, there is no good reason for you, or anyone employed by your funeral home, to retype something that has already been typed. In addition to being a waste of time, money and resources, duplicate data entry is also a liability as it increases the possibility of errors. Even copying/pasting data can cause inaccuracies if the data fields do not match exactly.
With ASD’s FuneralSync™, you can integrate your funeral home’s website with our system, ensuring we always have your current service information. This allows our Call Specialists to assist those who contact your funeral home with questions about obituaries, ensuring you have fewer calls to return. Additionally, it eliminates the need to fax or call in your service information to our answering service. ASD’s FuneralSync™ program also allows you to connect your funeral home software to ASD’s systems. With this integration in place, every time ASD handles a new First Call for your funeral home, information on the deceased person will be automatically pushed to your funeral home’s case management system.
“One great feature ASD offers is that they are linked to my website now. So, when I enter information into my website, it goes directly to them. I no longer have to send them any additional information for any of my cases.”-Mark Growney, Davis and Wagner Funeral Home in Woodbury, NJ.
6. Habit: Returning dozens of calls every day from people who need answers to routine questions
The better solution: Send information to your answering service to handle these calls on your behalf
It might seem counterintuitive to add a task to your to-do list in an effort to save time. However, sometimes taking a few moments to do something once can save you from an endless amount of work down the road. Every day, people call funeral homes to find information about a local establishment, get driving directors or to ask for a flower shop recommendation. These routine calls are extremely common at every funeral home in North America and they come in at every hour of the day. Rather than spending countless minutes of your precious free time returning calls (and possibly ending up in a long conversation with someone you don’t really want to talk to), why not give your answering service the information they need to answer these routine questions for you?
ASD offers a convenient Helpers tool that allows you to easily send ASD information on local establishments and details about common callers via our website or mobile device. You can use this feature to share data with us on local cemeteries, medical facilities, hotels, florists, and charities. By providing these details to ASD, our Call Specialists provide a more local touch to your callers while saving you from the hassle of having to respond to every incoming call.
“ASD allows for us to have a little personal time away from answering the phones. Even though we are still on-call, it's a little more relaxing not having to answer every phone call.”-Tiffany A. Hofer, Luce, Luze & Reck Funeral Home in Miller, SD
7. Habit: Accepting that being on-call means being miserable
The better solution: Explore solutions that make it simpler to cover after hours calls
Let’s be real: being on-call after hours is a tough gig. There are so many challenges involved in working on call. Death is unpredictable, and as a result on-call funeral directors arguably have higher variability in their work schedules than any other profession. This, combined with inadequate sleep and extreme FOMO from losing so much time with family and friends, is more than enough to make anyone resistant to looking on the bright side when it comes to being on-call. Yet, there are solutions that can lessen the burden and help you reclaim a few of those moments back.
The biggest factor that can improve your experience as an on-call funeral director is having the ability to customize your own unique contact preferences. Using the ASD Mobile app, you can control how, when and why you are notified with a new message. Select your own unique sound alerts for different types of calls you want to be reached for, set up a delay so that we send you a text or push notification before we interrupt you with a phone call, and specify if you would like us to send you a ReAlert™ if you have not responded within the given time frame. You can also let ASD know to send you a First Call Alert® the very moment we begin taking a death call, giving you time to prepare. These settings empower you stay connected while you are on-call without going crazy.
“By notifying us that there is a first call happening, ASD gives us those precious extra minutes to get out of bed, get ready and be out the door by the time the First Call with all information comes in.”-Jennifer Valentine, Davenport Family Funeral Home in Lake Zurich, IL.
A few minutes here and there spent on unnecessary tasks might not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things. However, as a funeral director you understand more than most the precious value of every free moment. Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, “lost time is never found again.” We encourage you to remain open to exploring new solutions to replace outdated communication processes. As an ASD client, you have access to the funeral profession’s most advanced mobile technology tools. It’s not about getting more done, it’s about having less to do. Let us help you meet that goal.
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