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ASD Employee Spotlight: Shane

May 16, 2014

ASD Training Specialist and recently promoted Assistant Supervisor, Shane, joined the ASD team in 2008. Over the past six years, he has proven himself to be a terrific asset to our company. Shane possesses a natural ability to put callers at ease on the phone. His strong writing and communication skills help him teach new hires to take detailed yet concise messages while always conveying compassion to callers. When he is not answering calls or training new employees, Shane volunteers for special projects and helps out other ASD departments with various duties. He was recently promoted to assist our Supervisor team with a variety of tasks that include monitoring system issues, answering questions for clients and calibrating Call Specialists’ calls. We are proud to feature Shane in this month’s Employee Spotlight.

Click here to read last month’ spotlight.

What are some things you have learned from working at ASD?

Working in the service industry demands a large measure of humility and deference. ASD, of course, helps hone my communication skills and patience, but it also challenges me both cognitively and emotionally every day as every call and caller is different. I’ve also learned more about the funeral profession than the average person might know. (Still no clue what an NJA# is though.)

As a Training Specialist, what is one of the most important things for a new call specialist to learn?

I tell my trainees that the foundation to taking calls is listening and efficiency. If you can make them a priority then everything else will fall into place; you’ll know the follow-up questions and garner a little trust from the caller.

Are there any funeral directors that stick out in your mind as clients you really enjoy working with?

There are quite a few clients I really enjoy working with. Recently I had a nice conversation with Britni Choice of G. Choice Funeral Chapel in Philadelphia who had seen our exercise feature on Fox News. Then we have Sherrill Kirk [of Kirk Funeral Home in Marian, AL] who is one of the most polite people you’ll ever talk to. And although I haven’t spoken to him on the phone, Caleb Wilde [of the Confessions of a Funeral Director blog] is a great supporter of my writing, so that’s always nice.

But then there are the directors that I have a pattern with and am able to go off script a bit like Paula Herron [of Sell-Herron Funeral Home in Allentown, PA). I know Paula always gets our texts, so when I follow up with her for an outstanding message I know to cut to the chase: “You got that text. Right, Paula?” And she did.

I take into consideration the hectic life of a funeral director, so if I can make someone’s life a little easier I know I’m doing something right.

What was your most difficult call and how did you assist this caller?

Every family death call is hard. Trying to keep your composure while a caller, a stranger, is grieving in his or her own way on the other end isn’t an easy task. We have to listen while still getting our job done as timely and accurately as possible only to do it all over again with another caller thirty seconds later. It’s more than just taking calls at ASD. Sometimes we’re the first person the caller speaks to after a loved one passes.

With that said, it’s difficult to say what the “hardest” call is that I’ve taken, however, one that does stick in my mind was taken a few years ago:

“I couldn’t get the door open,” the woman told me. She was reporting the death of her son and his wife from the steps of their home in Philly. The back door was stuck and there was no answer when they rang, she told me. “I was just dropping off my grandkids…”

I don’t remember many of the details now, but it was the first time I had to take a death call for more than one person at once. I listened to the woman, took the appropriate information for both individuals without pushing or making her feel rushed, but all the while making sure I was doing everything correctly. The woman was next to her daughter-in-law’s mother, both of them processing the details of the apparent murder-suicide. I never learned the details of the tragedy except that her son’s body was barring the back door and that those kids world changed drastically in just a sleepover’s time.

What are some of your personal hobbies and interests?

In no particular order:

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Yoga
  • Hiking/Camping
  • Travel

Each month, ASD will feature a different employee on our blog. Be sure to check back to see who June’s Employee Spotlight will feature.

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

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