Dec 24, 2013
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. ASD spotlights a Call Specialist each week who handles a particularly challenging call with patience and accuracy. 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 of the Week” winners for the month of December:
Patience is an incredibly crucial skill for every ASD Call Specialist to possess. No matter how upset, emotional or difficult a caller may be on the phone, our operators are trained to speak in a sympathetic tone without interrupting. This week, our Assistant Supervisor, Chris, answered a call from an extremely hard of hearing woman who wanted to make prearrangements for herself. This elderly caller was somewhat confused on the phone and switched topics unexpectedly. However, Chris remained patient and pleasant on the phone despite the volume of the caller’s voice and the diverse range of subjects that were brought up. She listened closely and waited for an opportunity to gather contact information without ever making the woman feel rushed or ignored. Chris is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” for collecting all of the necessary details for the director while providing the caller with the friendly listening ear she needed.
When someone is close to passing away, family members often struggle with pre-planning a funeral because they don’t want to be away from their loved one. This week our Call Specialist, Carrie, answered a call from an elderly woman whose husband was on hospice. The caller stated that she only had a short window of time to talk because she didn’t want to leave her husband’s bedside for too long. Carrie assured the caller that she could contact a director immediately and asked for her contact information. The woman became upset because she was calling from a cell phone but in her emotional state could not recall the number. Carrie then read the number she saw on the Caller ID so the caller could confirm it was correct. By the end of the call, the woman had calmed down thanks to Carrie’s assurances that a director could answer her questions without delay. She is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” Winner for recognizing the urgency of the call and using the tools she had at her disposal to help this upset caller.
Families can contact a funeral home day or night, so it is essential that the voice they hear on the other line—whether it is 3pm or 3am—is filled with compassion and sensitivity. At ASD, our 3rd shift employees understand that most late night calls are coming from distressed or upset family members and are trained to expect the unexpected. This week our Call Specialist, Karen, answered a call around 3:30am from a woman who stated that she was just testing the line to make sure she had the right number for the funeral home. Karen gently inquired if someone had just passed, prompting the caller to say, “I wasn’t expecting anyone to answer. I think my mom might have already called you about my grandmother’s passing.” It turned out that the director was not aware of the death and, thanks to Karen’s diligence, he was able to connect with both the family and the Nursing home without delay. She is this week’s Sensitive Save of the Week for recognizing the true urgency of this late night call.
ASD Call Specialists are trained to expect the communication challenges that might arise when speaking to callers who have just faced a major loss. Those challenges can be compounded, however, when a death is reported on speakerphone and a Call Specialist must gather information from multiple family members simultaneously. This week our Supervisor, Bill, answered a call from a woman and her husband on speaker who wanted to know where the funeral home was located. The couple Bill and said, “we’ll be back calling you soon” but before they could hang up, Bill inquired if they needed assistance from a director. As the couple began to answer, a third voice suddenly began speaking. It turned out the couple was calling on behalf of a friend who lost her husband. The friend was in the room but not up for making the call herself. Bill listened carefully without interruption while all three callers spoke, often at the same time, in order to gather the information needed by the funeral home. He then verified he had everything correct so there would be no confusion on the part of the on-call director when he returned the family’s call. He is this week’s Sensitive Save of the Week winner for conveying empathy to all three callers and for accurately gathering the First Call information needed by the funeral home.
Click here to read last month’s Sensitive Save of the Week winners.
Has ASD ever handled a particularily 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