Apr 28, 2014
At ASD, we are often the first point of contact for people who are at their most vulnerable moments. One of the first lessons Call Specialists learn during ASD’s 6-month training period is the range of emotions they may encounter on a daily basis. We recognize our employees when they go above and beyond on a call to ensure a funeral director is able to connect with a family member or loved one in need. ASD spotlights a Call Specialist as the “Sensitive Save” award winner each week who handles a particularly challenging call with patience and accuracy. This provides an opportunity to dissect difficult calls so the ASD staff can use the transcript as a model going forward.
Here are the “Sensitive Save of the Week” winners for the month of April:
1) One of the most delicate calls an ASD Call Specialist can handle is a call from someone who is price shopping. When someone is contacting multiple funeral homes, they are likely to be more hesitant when relaying contact information. For this reason, many ASD clients choose to have price shoppers directly patched to them. For directors who do not, our Call Specialists are trained to use a different approach. This week our Training Specialist, Amanda, answered a call from a woman who immediately said that no one had passed but she needed pricing for prearrangements. When Amanda told her that the director was out of the office but always available, the caller stated that she would be in and out and would prefer to call back later in the day. Amanda then asked, ‘what is your phone number just for reference so they can expect your call later.” This prompted the caller to leave her contact details, ensuring the director could follow up on the call without any delay. Amanda is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for phrasing this very crucial question to the caller in a manner that made her feel comfortable leaving a phone number.
2) Picking up on subtle clues from a caller’s tone of voice is a key component to ASD’s 6-month training program. However, we have found there are occasions when a caller’s casual tone of voice may disguise the true urgency of their needs. This week our Assistant Supervisor, Barbara, answered a call from a woman with a friendly voice who told her, “I talked to the director about arrangements for my mother. I need to change the casket we picked out but I can’t remember the website.” While it sounded like a simple follow up to a prearrangement meeting, ASD Call Specialists are trained to assume every call is related to a recent death until proven otherwise by the caller. Barbara gently asked the caller if she was making pre-plans or if her mother had passed. The woman then stated that her mother had just passed at home and that they were waiting for hospice to pronounce. Barbara gathered the information the director needed and assured the caller she would hear back immediately from a director who could answer all of her questions. Barbara is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for asking the necessary follow up questions to determine the real reason for this woman’s call and ensuring her needs were served without delay.
3) At ASD, our staff will often hear callers say, “it’s not an emergency” when leaving a message for the funeral home. However, ASD Call Specialists are trained to never assume this phrase means a death has not occurred. We understand that some callers are hesitant to label their needs as urgent. This week our Assistant Supervisor, Julian, answered a call that demonstrated why this standard is a key component of ASD’s training. When the caller learned the directors were out of the office, she informed Julian that her call was not an emergency and she didn’t mind calling later. Julian assured the woman that while the directors were out, they were always available and then gently inquired what her call was concerning. The woman then stated that a death had occurred in her family and she was calling to get information about the funeral home. Julian asked the right follow up questions and gave the caller the reassurance she needed to hear in order to provide the real reason for her call. He is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for ensuring the funeral home had an opportunity to serve this family in need.
4) Answering calls on a Sunday at ASD often poses some unique challenges for our Call Specialists. The majority of funeral homes do not have employees in the building on Sundays but have on-call staff available for callers with time-sensitive needs. Call Specialists must be able to screen calls carefully. This week our Assistant Supervisor, Andrew, answered a call from a woman who wanted to know the funeral home’s office hours. After relaying this information, the caller stated she could call back tomorrow but before she could hang up, Andrew gently inquired, “Has someone just passed away?” The caller explained that her father passed but there was a coroner’s inquest so his autopsy would not be finished until the following day. When Andrew assured her the director could still contact her back to answer her questions, the woman was both relieved and impressed that the funeral home could offer her this level of service and support. Andrew is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for ensuring that this grieving family member understood how important her needs were to the funeral home.
Click here to read last month’s Sensitive Save of the Week winners
Has ASD ever handled a particularily difficult or challenging call for your funeral home? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!
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