Feb 02, 2015
Originally Published in the January 2015 Issue of The Director (NFDA) by ASD Staff Writer, Jess Fowler.
NFDA members, click here to read the digital issue.
Have you ever been contacted by multiple families back to back while on call or received a business call on your cell during a rare night off? For many funeral directors, it can be difficult to disconnect from the funeral home even when someone else is covering the phone. Traditionally, directors were hesitant to leave the funeral home for fear of missing an at-need call. Today, advanced technology makes it easier to respond to families, track after-hours calls and keep your personal number private without sacrificing level of service.
Funeral directors must remain vigilant about their firms’ communications with families 24/7. Mobile technology provides a reliable link back to the office. Most answering services allow clients to listen to their calls and receive messages via text, email or push notification. These tools make it possible to monitor telephone activity with ease. Rather than pulling over to write information, the details are at your fingertips. When you’re on the road or meeting with a family, being disrupted by a phone call is not acceptable. Solutions that enable directors to respond to messages from a cell phone eliminate unnecessary distractions and save time.
How many times have you experienced this? It’s late at night, you’re not on call, but you can’t rest because you know someone is very close to dying. Perhaps the family only wants to work with you or the facility has special procedures. Either way, you know you’re going to have trouble sleeping. This scenario illustrates why owners and managers require a simple way to track first calls their staff is handling. Your answering service should allow you to be informed of all new first calls even when others are covering the phones.
Many of our clients have described an on-call problem they often experience when returning calls to families from their cell phone.
“I might call someone back on a Friday, but then I’m not on call on Saturday and they’re calling my cell. A lot of times when I’m not on call, I’m not available on my cell phone,” said Meghan Owens, a Director at Scanlan Funeral Home in Pompton Plains, NJ. “So, now the family is calling trying to get in touch with me instead of calling the funeral home.”
While it is possible to block your Caller ID, this can create a negative first impression for families. Fortunately, a better solution now exists that enables directors to call any number from their cell phone using the funeral home number as the outgoing Caller ID. Check to see if your answering service offers this feature.
It is not uncommon for a director to be handling a time-sensitive issue when an at-need call is reported. For this reason, having the ability to easily share or copy messages and phone recordings to other employees is critical. These tools make it simple for the office to work as a collective whole and help employees share responsibilities. Most answering services can offer technology that connects the entire staff to a portable communication center, either through a mobile app or website portal. When you’re just waking up and need to know what calls came in the night before, these solutions allow for access to all call information, dispatch reports and even recordings of calls from anywhere at anytime.
In a perfect world, the staff would answer every call to the funeral home. Having a designated backup helps eliminate the possibility of missing an important call. Funeral directors need support to avoid burnout and to continue assisting families with patience and compassion. You can achieve this by forwarding calls to your cell phone using your answering service as a backup. This simple solution offers peace of mind when you are on the road, in a bad service area, or responding to an earlier call.
During business hours, you can program your phone to ring to the answering service if it is not answered at the office after a specific number of rings. Using call forwarding to back up your phone lines day and night ensures you don’t miss an opportunity to serve a family in need.
Conducting business on the go will always pose unique challenges for funeral directors. Fortunately, with call forwarding, mobile technology and other answering service tools, funeral professionals have greater flexibility and oversight than in the past. These solutions empower on-call directors to keep a finger on the pulse of their business at all times.
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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