May 13, 2015
If you’re familiar with ASD, you may already be aware that we offer funeral professionals a wide range of mobile tools and technology. What you may not be aware of, however, is that every one of the features we have created started out as a problem. When a funeral director shares a communication dilemma he or she has experienced, it provides the foundation for every new idea formed at ASD. Eventually, a new solution evolves from this idea to specifically address the problem. For this reason, ASD places a high value on our customer service department and the time we spend at funeral conventions across the country. The observations and suggestions of funeral professionals help us remain innovative.
By working with funeral homes across the country, ASD has discovered and introduced some incredible telecommunication advancements. One of the most significant moments in our company’s history occurred on June 18th, 2013 when we were notified that the United States patent office had granted ASD’s first official patent for our First Call Connect® feature. Since that time, ASD has been awarded three other patents for different solutions we have created. We are currently awaiting approval on a patent for our new MobileFH® feature which allows clients to call any number back from their cell phone and display the funeral home number as the outgoing Caller ID.
“ASD exclusively serves the Funeral Profession. This allows us to focus our attention on our clients’ common problems, and develop unique custom solutions,” says ASD Vice President, Marty Czachor Jr. “The ASD Tech Team has developed the systems and software platforms used daily by our employees, as well as our customers. This provides ASD the ability to modify our systems to enhance our service, or provide a completely new solution.
The inventive team behind ASD’s communication solutions has built mobile tools for funeral directors as well as an answering service system that allows our call center to operate as efficiently as possible. In our effort to highlight the work of our Tech team, we wanted to share with you some of the history and technology behind ASD’s patented solutions. This is part one of a three-part blog series that will explore ASD’s proprietary technology.
ASD’s First Patent: First Call Connect®
Patent No. 8,467,515
Patent filed: August 6, 2010
Patent issued: June 18, 2013
Patent No. 8,498,399
Patent filed: January 10, 2011
Patent issued: July 30, 2013
ASD’s First Call Connect® feature utilizes technology that is protected by two different patents. The first patent refers to our ability to send a message out to ASD clients alerting them of a First Call in progress so they can connect into the call in progress. The second patent protects the technology that allows directors to listen in on the call in a stealth monitor mode or speak to the Call Specialist before being connected.
“Since we develop our own technology, this is the primary competitive advantage of ASD,” Marty says. “Our competitors can attempt to copy us, but they never know what we have in the pipeline. And many of our solutions are now protected by US Patents, effectively eliminating imitation. Therefore, our competitors will always trail ASD in technology!”
Since its introduction, ASD has performed more than 55,000 First Call Connects. The history behind ASD’s First Call Connect® feature dates back to when ASD first began offering text messaging and patching solutions to our clients. We spoke with many funeral directors who appreciated these new features and our ability to help them connect with families in less time. As more and more ASD clients communicated to us the importance of immediacy for their business, we began to brainstorm ways we could combine both our text messaging and patching capabilities to offer an unparalleled solution to funeral directors.
When a First Call is reported to ASD, the moment our Call Specialist recognizes that someone has passed, he or she will open up a special form to gather more information. This triggers a First Call Alert® that is sent out to the on-call director. Funeral professionals can activate First Call Connect® by dialing the number texted to their mobile phone and selecting among these options: press 3 to enter the call immediately, press 1 to listen to the call in a stealth muted mode or press 0 to speak with the call specialist prior to joining the call.
Example of a First Call Alert® text message and different First Call Connect® options
This range of options gives directors the ability to decide how to handle a First Call based upon their situation at the time. After listening to our clients, we knew we needed to offer funeral professionals multiple options for connecting into First Calls. Since receiving our two patents, First Call Connect® has evolved further to include more mobile capabilities. With the development of the ASD Mobile app, push notifications were introduced to further streamline communication for on-call directors. When the First Call Alert is sent out, the on-call director can simply tap on the phone number instead of having to waste time dialing. App controls allow directors to set a schedule for when they receive notifications and set specific preferences for their alert sounds.
Example of a First Call Alert® push notification which appear even when the phone is on Locked Screen mode.
First Call Connect® is the only answering service tool that allows funeral directors to serve clients in “real-time” regardless of location or time of day. We created First Call Connect® so funeral directors could return to their roots, adapting the latest technology to rebuild the personal director/family relationships of yesterday. There are many practical benefits this technology offers to funeral professionals and families. These include reducing the time it takes to begin arrangements, enhancing response time to death and urgent calls and coordinating the transportation of remains without delay.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of First Call Connect® and ASD’s other tools for growth, please contact us at 800-868-9950.
Be sure to visit our blog next month to read Part II of ASD’s patent series on the history and technology behind our patented Solicitor Shield™ feature.
Click here to see a list of all of ASD’s issued patents on the United States Patent Office website.
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