ASD's Year in Review: A Timeline of 2014's Major Milestones
Dec 31, 2014
The beginning of a new year is always filled with new possibilities, resolutions and goals for the future. Here at ASD, this is a time for brainstorming new ideas for the year ahead and different ways we can better serve your needs. In 2015, we will work to enhance our online and mobile features with your valued feedback and suggestions. We also recently expanded our Proactive Customer Service team to include 7 of our most experienced Training Specialists and Supervisors. Going forward, our new PCS team will provide an added layer of support for ASD clients.
As we look ahead to an exciting and innovative year here at ASD, we’ve taken a moment to reflect on some of the significant milestones we achieved in 2014. Here is our 2014 Year in Review:
January: ASD Hosts CE Classes for PA Funeral Directors
On Thursday, January 16, ASD hosted continuing education classes in our conference room to help PA funeral directors earn their required CE credits. More than 50 funeral professionals from all across the state attended our CE event. ASD plans to hold more classes in our office to provide local funeral directors with a convenient location for earning their credits and an opportunity to tour ASD’s facility. Click here to learn more.
February: Medpro Disposal Joins ASD’s Rewards Program
In February, ASD partnered with MedPro Disposal to offer our clients exclusive savings. MedPro Disposal began in 2009 after the company’s founders recognized a serious lack of choice in medical waste disposal services. In 2011, the company began to expand operations and is now providing service in 44 states in cooperation with more than 80 regional affiliate haulers. By partnering with MedPro, the average funeral home saves up to $1,254.00 annually from reduced service costs. This partnership allows ASD clients to increase their cash flow by lowering monthly expenses. To learn more, click here.
March: “The Director” publishes an article by ASD
The March 2014 issue of The Director magazine included an article by ASD Staff Writer, Jessica Fowler, titled “Unlocking Your Telephone Strategy: How New Technology Has Altered Funeral Home Call Patterns.” The article explains how the nature, frequency and value of funeral home phone calls have undergone a major transformation in the past several decades. It provides details on why funeral home call patterns have shifted and how directors can implement a comprehensive communication strategy to meet the demands of today’s families. To read the article, click here.
April: ASD Debuts #FuneralDirectorFacts Series on Social Media
There is very little information in our news media about the daily sacrifices of funeral directors. Few people know all the different ways that funeral professionals go out of their way to help families in need. In April, ASD launched our #FuneralDirectorFacts series on social media which highlighted the outstanding work of funeral directors. Many of our clients have shared these posts to show residents in their community what is involved with funeral service work. We hope the series will continue to grow on social media as we are want more people to understand and appreciate the dedication of funeral directors. Click on the image below to read more funeral director facts.
May: ASD Introduces New Live Chat Feature
Many funeral directors are searching for a competitive edge to grow their business. In May, ASD introduced a revolutionary Live Chat feature that allows directors to answer questions and capture leads directly from their funeral home’s website. Live Chat introduces several proprietary tools including our First Chat Alert™ feature. This tool enables funeral home staff to be involved with the chat as well as ASD call specialists and intercept a chat in progress via ASD Mobile or myASD.com. Live Chat is designed to help directors capture price-shopper inquiries, as some consumers may not feel comfortable placing a phone call. To learn more about this feature, click here.
June: ASD Clients Earn More than $100,000 from Rewards Program
In June 2014, ASD’s Rewards Program hit a significant milestone. More than $100,000 in savings was distributed to our clients under the program. Established in 2011, the ASD Rewards Program provides exclusive discounts to ASD clients when you conduct business with our participating Rewards Partners. Over time, the Rewards Program grew to include a dozen companies each offering a unique product or specialized service to ASD clients at a reduced rate. To learn more, click here.
July: Funeral Pro Chat Podcast Series is Born
Over the summer, ASD began working with Funeral Writer, Nancy Burban, to create a new podcast series for funeral directors. The idea was to feature directors and experts discussing the latest funeral trends, news and customs with the goal of enlightening funeral directors on a range of topics that interest them. Our first Funeral Pro Chat podcast interview was with Funeral Director and popular blogger, Caleb Wilde of Wilde Funeral Home and Confessions of a Funeral Director. Caleb sat down with Nancy and ASD Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor, to share his thoughts and stories about the changing face of funeral service, common pressures directors face and the importance of trust when choosing funeral vendors. Click here to listen to Caleb's podcast.
Since our first Funeral Pro Chat podcast with Caleb, 5 other podcasts have been released and our audience continues to grow with thousands of downloads. We are thrilled that so many directors have responded to Funeral Pro Chat and will continue to seek out relevant topics and interesting guests for future interviews. To learn more or to listen to a podcast, visit funeralprochat.com.
August: ASD Issues Results of 2014 Funeral Communications Survey
ASD conducted a research survey to better understand the communication patterns of funeral professionals. The results of our 2014 Funeral Communications Survey were published in Kates Boylston Publications’ Funeral Director’s Guide to Statistics. The survey received more than 660 responses. Participants were asked to provide feedback on their funeral homes’ use of mobile technology and call forwarding. The survey also included questions about monthly expenditures, telephone patterns and interoffice communication. Click here to read the results.
September: ASD’s Patented Solicitor Shield™ Feature Blocks Over 3 Million Unwanted Calls
By September of this year, ASD’s Solicitor Shield™ feature had existed for about four years and had received an official patent from the U.S. Patent Office. The patent recognized Solicitor Shield™ as the only answering service tool proven to dynamically shield against unwanted phone solicitations. Our one-of-a-kind tool then reached a new milestone when it blocked its 3 millionth call. This significant benchmark demonstrated just how much Solicitor Shield™ enhances ASD’s Operations. On average, ASD answers approximately 14,000 calls per day with 90 percent of all calls by the first ring and 98 percent by the fourth ring. Solicitor Shield™ enables us to forecast our call volume in advance and schedule accordingly, allowing our company to answer calls more promptly than at other call centers. To learn more about how solicitor shield works and it’s benefits, click here.
October: ASD Mobile 3 Released During the NFDA Convention
This year’s NFDA convention was incredibly eventful for the ASD team. In addition to sponsoring the convention and a cell phone charging station at our booth, this year was quite special because we were also accompanied by ASD Client and Compassionate Paws Grief Therapy Founder, Debra Fry and her Bermese Mountain Dog, Gurt. Debra was a guest on Funeral Pro Chat and many directors were curious about the work she was doing with grief therapy trained dogs. Click here to see photos of our time with Debra and Gurt at the convention.
The most exciting moment of this year’s largest gathering of funeral directors came when we received word from apple that ASD Mobile 3, an enhanced version of our award-winning smartphone app, was approved and available in the iTunes Store. This was the first time funeral directors could utilize ASD’s new, patent-pending MobileFH™ which allows users to call any number from their cell phone and display the funeral home’s number as their outgoing caller ID.
The release of our app could not have come at a better time, as our Technical Analyst, Kristine Soderland, was onsite to help answer questions and provide app tutorials to our clients. During the Expo, Kristy held a Live Demo of ASD Mobile 3 every hour at our booth. Funeral Directors in attendance were shown how to use the app’s new advanced features and could see these tools in action on ASD’s projection screen. Clients shared feedback and suggestions with us for future app updates,which has allowed us to add even more features to ASD Mobile 3 since the NFDA convention.
To read more of our highlights from this year’s NFDA Convention, click here.
November: New Patching Features Introduced
In November, ASD’s technical team introduced another version of ASD Mobile to our clients that included our new Patched section. The Patched section is a tool we have built that allows directors to hear a complete recording of all calls that are directly transferred. The recording will include any communication that follows after our Call Specialist disconnects from the line. This allows you to follow up on any details from the conversation at a later time while evaluating your staff’s telephone etiquette. Our new Patched section also allows you to review calls placed via MobileFH™ or connected through our patented First Call Connect™ feature. To learn more about these recently added features, click here.
December: ASD’s Christmas Giveback
For the past four years, ASD has participated in a charity that supports local children in need. Children’s Choice Adoption and Foster helps connect ASD to families in need of support during Christmas. This year, the ASD collected an overwhelming number of donations. Dozens of gifts and over 150 food items, including 6 turkeys, were given to help these local families. We are proud of the generosity our staff showed this year in helping this important cause.
ASD Says Goodbye to a Beloved Supervisor
As we are looking ahead to the new year ahead, ASD is also reflecting back on the 19 years our team has shared with Supervisor, Kathy Blythe. Losing Kathy during the holidays has made the end of this year very bittersweet for many at ASD. The memories she left us with will be treasured for many years to come. As our staff leans on one another for comfort during this difficult time, we are reminded once again of the fragility of life and the blessing of a brand new year. Knowing that tomorrow is not a promise helps us to always remember to search for new possibilities in each day. Rest in peace, Kathy.
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