Feb 25, 2014
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 as the “Sensitive Save” award winner 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 February:
ASD Call Specialists are trained to anticipate unexpected challenges when gathering First Call information. This week our Assistant Supervisor and Bilingual Agent, Diego, answered a call from a woman who asked if there was an after hours number she could call. When Diego assured her he could contact a director, she explained that she was calling on behalf of her friend who was on a cruise. The caller seemed hesitant to reveal any other information, so Diego asked her if someone passed away. Suddenly, a male voice began speaking. It turned out the woman was on speakerphone with her friend whose mother had just passed away while he was on a cruise. Diego patiently gathered information from both the caller and her friend, despite the communication challenges that arise when speaking to two callers at the same time. He was able to bring a sense of calmness to a situation that was very chaotic for both the son, who was away from home, and his friend who was trying her best to help him. Diego is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for exhibiting a patient and reassuring telephone demeanor throughout this difficult call.
One of the key elements of ASD’s 6-month Training Program is the importance of conveying compassion to callers both with words and tone of voice. Our Call Specialists understand that their voice inflection sets the tone of every call and will determine how comfortable a loved one feels relaying information after a passing. This week our Call Specialist, Bill, handled an extremely challenging call from the father of a shooting victim. The gentleman sounded breathless on the phone and it was obvious he was holding back his grief. Patiently, Bill listened to the caller without interruption, gathering information without pushing. His gentle handling of this sensitive call reflected the funeral home’s standards. After speaking to the family, the director contacted ASD to personally thank Bill for his empathetic and understanding phone demeanor. He is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for compassionately helping this bereaved father through an incredibly difficult process.
When contacting a funeral home, family members often ask questions before revealing that someone passed away. ASD Call Specialists are trained to expect this. However, on occasion callers will add an additional challenge by purposefully disguising the true reason for their call. This week our Call Specialist, Heather, answered a call from a woman who asked, “when are you doing wakes?” Heather asked the caller what service she was looking for and the caller gave a name and then proceeded to ask several questions about the amount of time between a death and a viewing. After Heather explained to the caller that this depends on a family’s wishes, the caller revealed that a loved one passed in her own family and she was looking for a funeral home that could accommodate a Saturday night viewing. Heather assured the caller that the director could answer her question immediately. She is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” for patiently assisting this caller and quickly identifying what she really needed.
Even though funeral directors remain available to families 24/7, there are many instances where a family with an urgent need will minimize their situation because they don’t want a director to be bothered after hours. This week our Call Specialist, Christine, answered a call from a woman who wanted to know the funeral home’s office hours. When Christine relayed this information, the caller said she just wanted to apologize for missing an appointment and would call back later. Recognizing a hesitation in the caller’s voice, Christine asked the woman if she would like to leave a more detailed message in case the director checked in before they reopened. The caller then revealed that she had missed an appointment to make arrangements for her mother because her father had passed. Since the director was aware of her mother’s passing and her father could not be picked up until the following day, the caller thought her needs could wait. However, Christine knew the director would want to speak to this grieving daughter who just lost both her parents and relayed this to the caller before reaching the on call immediately. She is this week’s Sensitive Save of the Week winner for asking the necessary follow-up questions to determine the true urgency of the caller.
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