ASD: Freedom For Your Life, Protection For Your Calls
Mar 28, 2018
When you became a funeral director, you didn’t sign away your
freedom. Yet, sometimes it feels that way, doesn’t it? The physical and mental
costs add up when your schedule is so unpredictable and your workload feels
like feast or famine. But while it may be true that you must remain available
to your community 24/7, you don’t have to do it alone. Give yourself the best
advantage by empowering your funeral home with back up protection, proven
technology and NFDA award-winning resources. Using an answering service isn’t
about losing control – it’s about gaining added peace of mind and support
during those times when you really need it
We understand directors
often have many
questions to consider before trusting an outside company to
handle their sensitive and valuable calls. We wanted to take a moment to
explain some of the benefits our funeral director clients have gained from
using ASD and why it is vital for funeral homes to protect their sensitive
Advantages of Using an Answering Service
Funeral professionals are pulled in so many different directions. There is little predictability in their lives, as death does not follow any schedule. An answering service can provide directors with much needed freedom from the demands of an on-call lifestyle, allowing them to remain unshackled from the phone without sacrificing the level of service families receive. Funeral homes benefit from back up support, call screening and time to recharge. These benefits empower directors to better serve families by offering more responsive customer service and spending more time engaging in their communities.
With an answering service, calls can be forwarded as often or as a little as needed. This flexibility offers increased revenue and efficiency, giving owners an alternative to overstaffing. Directors can decrease their overhead costs while freeing up employees to complete other tasks. The funeral home also benefits from having more energized and empowered staff as employees are only being contacted after hours when an urgent need is communicated to an answering service. Even employees who are never on-call benefit from improved inner office communication and solutions that help everyone at the funeral home remain on the same page.
With so many tasks to juggle, having an extra hand when you need it can make all the difference.
The Unique Nature of Funeral Home Phone Calls
The sensitive nature of the funeral business coupled with the substantial cost of a single sale requires directors to be hyper vigilant of all communication. The telephone is almost always the first point of contact for at-need families and can play a vital role in a customer’s first impression of a funeral home. If a family calls a funeral home during their time of need and hears a busy signal, voicemail or worse, the phone just rings and rings, it is highly likely they will contact a different firm and tell others about their negative experience. By creating a safety net of backup support through call forwarding and an answering service, funeral professionals can ensure families always receive a prompt and professional response no matter the time or day.
There is no substitute for attentiveness when you’re a funeral professional. Directors must remain focused on the families they are serving to ensure they always feel supported. Using or checking a phone during a memorial service or an arrangement conference could be construed as insensitive or impolite to others. This is especially true when interacting with older generations who did not grow up with cellular technology and often view it as an unnecessary distraction. With an answering service, funeral professionals can direct their undivided attention to the family in front of them without fear of an important missed call. This empowers directors to stay connected discreetly without being repeatedly interrupted by a phone call.
Both prompt attention and specialized support are needed when assisting funeral home callers.
In the funeral business, you only get one chance to serve a family correctly. Knowing how delicate and involved these calls are, only an answering service with an absolute focus on funeral professionals can consistently meet these extreme needs. ASD recognized early funeral directors had unique needs and required a more caring, specialized answering service to handle their calls. Working solely with funeral homes ensures our staff has a deeper comprehension of the fragile emotional state of callers and possesses a higher level of understanding of funeral customs and traditions. Our dedication to improving the lives of funeral directors extends beyond answering calls: we want to equip funeral directors with the communications tools they need to better serve families and maintain a competitive advantage.
It’s Not About Losing Control. It’s About Gaining Peace of Mind
Funeral directors are required to be control freaks (we like to call them “control experts”). Their vocation demands it. Every detail must be weighed and measured when you are constantly dealing with such fragile emotions and time-sensitive issues. Consequently, many directors are reluctant to forward their phone lines to an answering service because they believe they are offering better customer service to families by answering every call themselves. While it is certainly admirable to want to be there to support every family who calls, backup protection is crucial. Without it, a single missed call could cost a funeral home the trust of a family they have worked with generations.
In order to be responsive to families in need and competitive, directors need to have a communication safeguard in place. Funeral homes that use call forwarding and an answering service maintain an advantage over other firms simply because their clients can always reach them. Situations will inevitably arise that prevent critical calls from getting through. If power is lost at the funeral home or a receptionist cannot answer the line in time, there is no way to account for potential lost business. Directors can easily and affordably set up call forwarding preferences through their local phone company ensuring that if the phones are out of service or the line is not answered by a predetermined number of rings, calls automatically divert to their answering service.
With No Answer Call Forwarding programmed and ASD backing up your phone lines, you'll never have to worry about missing an important phone call again.
For funeral professionals that routinely forward to their cell phones, there are many outside variables that can impact their ability to professionally and compassionately serve families. If the cell phone loses service or the battery dies, the director may not even realize they have missed a call until the family has already moved on to a different firm. If more than one person calls during the same time period, the director is then forced to interrupt their conversation and place the caller on hold or ignore the incoming call that could be urgent. If a person calls when the director is in a loud environment, the family may hear inappropriate background noise, Additionally, if a director answers his phone while in transit, he puts himself at risk from distracted driving. These unpredictable occurrences can cause a great deal of frustration for both funeral professionals and families, yet they can be easily avoided by using an answering service.
Achieving a Competitive Advantage
Most funeral home marketing efforts are centered on convincing families to call their funeral home during their time of need. However, this strategy will not help to grow the funeral home business if directors have not considered a competitive approach for handling shopper calls. Families will frequently contact multiple funeral homes to compare packages, research available options and evaluate customer service. At ASD, our Call Specialists can discern a normal message from a shopper call and will connect the on-call director to these callers to provide assistance without delay. This ensures the director is not trying to track down the family after the fact while the family is calling other funeral homes. With a quick tap within ASD Mobile, the director can even join the call in progress in real-time, as if picking up a second line at the funeral home. This provides families with immediate assurance that their needs are a high priority and allows directors to offer a more personal touch.
Many funeral home owners have little to no way of reviewing how their staff handles challenging shopper calls that occur after hours. With the right answering service, this dilemma can now be solved. ASD gives funeral home owners the ability to review shopper calls that are directly patched to their staff, allowing them to listen to the complete recording of the call even after the ASD Call Specialist disconnects. On-call directors can also call any number through the ASD Mobile app and have the call recorded and available for future review. This solution allows funeral home owners and their staff to develop a consistent approach when handling shopper calls.
"The ASD Mobile app has made my life so much easier as a whole but the real star is this feature. The fact that it records the calls you make is wonderful, especially when a family may complain about something they claim we never talked about. It really helps to be able to go back and reference the call."-Amy Rigtrup, Silva Faria Funeral Home
With this technology, funeral home owners now have an opportunity to understand what techniques work best during shopper calls, discover areas that can be improved upon, and develop best practices. Call recordings can be used as training tools to help employees develop more effective sales strategies to reach goals. Every funeral home employee brings a different set of skills to the table and some directors may be better at handling these calls than others. Listening to recordings of shopper calls can help funeral home owners to assist their staff with refining their communication and improving their confidence. Furthermore, if any vital information is transcribed inaccurately during the call, the funeral home will have a complete record of the director’s conversation with the family member that can be accessed anytime.
Importance of Customizable Options and Specialized Training
Every funeral home has a unique history, business culture and relationship with the public. Since no two funeral homes are exactly alike, it is not possible for a funeral vendor to effectively serve such a diverse group without offering customizable options. ASD’s approach is truly listening to what funeral directors tell us they need, understanding how they operate and figuring out how we can help them accomplish their goals with available and emerging technologies—things they might not even know exist. This tailored approach was created with the knowledge that funeral directors are unlike any other profession and deserve specialized solutions.
For example, ASD has created an experienced team of more than 30 bilingual Call Specialists to assist funeral homes that handle calls for Spanish-Speaking families. For funeral homes that utilize an after-hours transport service, we can gather all of the necessary details on the First Call and set up specific contacting instructions to help coordinate the removal. From larger, multi-location firms to smaller funeral homes in rural areas, we have solutions in place for just about every size firm and call scenario. Every ASD client has a designated account with their firm’s unique preferences, instructions and special notations mapped out clearly for our Call Specialists. This is just scratching the surface of the many different ways directors can customize their needs to ensure calls are handled entirely in a manner that reflects the funeral home’s standards and methods.
ASD Call Specialists receive extensive training on speaking to funeral home callers
Since ASD answers exclusively for funeral homes, our Call Specialists are never distracted by calls from doctor’s offices, tow truck drivers and other businesses unrelated to the funeral profession. The extensive, 6-month training program we have in place strongly emphasizes the significance of First Calls, Price Shopper calls and Pre-Need inquiries and outlines the burial customs of different religions, ethnicities and geographic regions. In addition to exhibiting a compassionate phone demeanor while speaking to at-need families, trainees must learn how to handle every type of call a funeral home may receive before answering calls independently. They must also possess intuition to recognize an at-need call early into a conversation by paying close attention to the caller’s tone of voice as well as unspoken cues. By keeping our staff focused solely on the needs of funeral directors, ASD’s staff is better equipped to speak to families in need and more knowledgeable about the funeral profession than any other answering service in operation today.
Alleviating On-Call Headaches and Improving Customer Service
You would expect that giving out your cell phone number would resolve communication problems, not create them, but for funeral directors this just isn’t the case. Caller ID, as helpful as it is, can also cause a lot of headaches and make it difficult for funeral professionals to keep their personal number private. In the past, this was unavoidable – families would naturally reference the phone number they saw on their Caller ID even when that director was no longer on duty. As a result, callers with time-sensitive needs would often have issues reaching the funeral home while funeral directors had no option for separating their personal and professional lives.
Have you ever missed an important, urgent call because the person called your personal cell phone number instead of the funeral home number?
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. ASD introduced this feature, known as MobileFH™ in 2015 and it has since been awarded an official patent from the U.S. Patent office. With MobileFH™, families will only see the funeral home’s phone number on their Caller ID, ensuring they always call back the correct person. Directors can enjoy their time off without worrying about missing important calls instead of trying to assist the caller from a distracting environment. On average, ASD connects about 500 MobileFH™ a day. These calls are also recorded by ASD, allowing funeral directors to review their conversations with families and use call recordings as training tools to help staff improve communication skills.
The Future of Funeral Home Communication
Funeral homes today need more than just protection for their telephone calls. With more families than ever searching online for information and using the web to connect, directors must also be cognizant of monitoring their online communication. By linking their website to their answering service, funeral directors can ensure important data is synced and copied over automatically. This ensures that essential information, such as upcoming service details, are communicated without delay and directors don’t have to waste time with duplicate data entry. In addition to integrating their website to their answering service, funeral homes can also sync their management systems – making it possible to seamlessly transfer information obtained during a First Call.
There are many situations where a family member may be hesitant to call a funeral home following a death. To provide an added level of service, directors can now offer website visitors with a second option: a Web Chat Button. This lets families visiting their website know that someone from the funeral home is always available to assist them and can help you the firm capture more business opportunities. ASD offers a unique Web Chat Solution that allows both the ASD Agent and the on-call director to be involved with web chat sessions via 3-way chat. When a chat is initiated, an ASD Agent immediately responds to the question using information that has been customized by director. If the question is urgent, a notification is automatically sent to relay that a chat session in progress. This allows directors to quickly respond to any urgent incoming chats from their mobile phone or computer.
With ASD's Web Chat solution, funeral directors can connect into a live chat in progress
Many funeral directors also have a ‘Contact Us’ web form on their website but do not check these accounts after hours. ASD can help funeral homes to monitor this 24/7. Even if web inquiries only amount to small portion of business, it is still essential to quickly follow up as the funeral home’s response time can greatly impact a family’s first impression.
ASD offers every funeral home a 30-Day Free Trial that gives you an opportunity to full evaluate every aspect of our service. We work closely with you during the trial to learn about your specific needs and document your customizable preferences. Let us answer your phones for ABSOLUTELY NO COST during our trial period to prove to you how having flexibility for your life and protection for your calls can set you free!
Want to learn more? Contact our National Sales Manager, Craig Meehan, at 800-868-9950 or email Craig@myASD.com
About The Author
Jess 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.Fowler@myASD.com