Dec 28, 2015
At ASD, we are often the first point of contact for people who are at their most vulnerable moments. One of the first lessons Call Specialists learn during ASD’s 6-month training period is the range of emotions they may encounter on a daily basis. We recognize our employees when they go above and beyond on a call to ensure a funeral director is able to connect with a family member or loved one in need. Each week, ASD spotlights a Call Specialist who handles a particularly challenging call with patience and accuracy as the “Sensitive Save”award winner. This provides an opportunity to dissect difficult calls so the ASD staff can use the transcript as a model going forward.
Here are the “Sensitive Save” winners for the month of December:
It happens more often than one might expect: a loved one passes away and rather than calling the funeral home, a relative will stop by to discuss arrangements in person. This week our Assistant Supervisor, Kourtney, answered a call from a gentleman who was on the funeral home’s front porch for this very reason. When Kourtney explained that the director was out of the office but always reachable, the gentleman stated, “I’ll just move on to the next one.” Kourtney then immediately interjected, “I can reach them immediately for you and find out if they are close by.” This statement persuaded the caller to remain on the line. Kourtney then provided further reassurances by offering to patch him directly to the on-call. The caller then felt comfortable revealing some basic information on the recent passing and remained on the line while Kourtney connected him to the director. Kourtney is our “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for ensuring this caller did not hang up and decide to go to a different funeral home instead.
Many people struggle with knowing what phrases or terms to use when reporting a loved one’s passing. In some instances, our Call Specialist will need to determine the reason for the call by listening carefully to what the caller is not saying. This week our Call Specialist, Christopher, answered a call from a gentleman who stated that the funeral home had handled his mother’s funeral in the past. The caller began to describe some of the directors he had worked with and some of the particulars of his mother’s services. He then stated, “We’re calling a bunch of funeral homes but I really liked the services there.” This statement led Christopher to ask, “Has someone just passed away?” The caller then revealed that his cousin had passed and he was helping to gather information. The gentleman was very upset and scattered on the phone with limited information, but Christopher’s calm tone of voice helped put him at ease. Christopher is our “Sensitive Save of the Week Winner” for listening carefully, reacting to the caller with patience and gathering all of the essential details.
Health issues like brain tumors and Parkinson’s disease can have a major impact on the speech mannerisms of a person, making it incredibly difficult to communicate. This week our Call Specialist, Eric, answered a call from a gentleman who had trouble speaking on the phone. Initially, the caller sounded very frustrated that he could not articulate what he needed. Eric responded to the caller by listening carefully and then repeating back information so the gentleman knew that he was being understood correctly. By setting the right tone on this call, Eric was able to gain the caller’s trust and he was eventually able to verbalize that he needed to make prearrangements for himself. Eric listened without interrupting while the caller explained the situation. He then read back the spelling of the caller’s name and his phone number carefully to ensure the director had all of the correct information when following up. Eric is our “Sensitive Save of the Week” for the gentle patience he exhibited throughout this challenging call.
When a person loses a beloved pet, it often feels as though they have lost a close member of their family. At ASD, our Call Specialists understand the importance of displaying empathy when speaking to a caller who is grieving the loss of a pet. This week our Advanced Call Specialist, Gary, answered a call from a woman whose cat had passed away unexpectedly. The caller was extremely emotional on the phone and begun to apologize profusely to Gary for breaking down. Gary responded compassionately by telling her he had been through a similar experience and knew how difficult it was to go through. This helped the caller to gain her composure and she was then able to provide her contact information. By gently letting the caller know it was normal and ok to grieve for her pet, Gary helped put her at ease and ensured that the on-call director could follow up with her. He is our “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for the compassion and sincerity he displayed during this call.
Click here to read about November’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” Award Winners
Has ASD ever handled a particularly difficult or challenging call for your funeral home? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!
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