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Guest Blog Post: What Do You Do To Make It Harder for Your Families and Community to do Business with You?

Aug 08, 2012

ASD Reward Partner, Timothy J. O’Brien M.S., is a Fellow of the American Institute of Stress and a Life Member of the International Society for Performance Improvement. Tim has been the Director of the Institute for Stress Management and Performance Improvement, since 1989. He has written articles for and presented at the NFDA convention and State Funeral Directors Association annual meetings.

Tim is also the author of the Grief Support Programs: A Season for Healing, A Reason for Hope: the Grief & Mourning Guide and Journal, and the Pet-Loss Grief Program: You will always be a part of me. He has published more than 400 print articles and wrote a bi-weekly “Life styles” column for Knight Ridder Tribune News and McClatchy newspaper services for 14 years. You can contact Tim at (850) 668-0696 or

I have asked many business owners and managers: “What do you do to make it hard for your clients and customers to do business with you?” Most give me a very quizzical look and almost indignantly say, “Nothing!” A few of the more discerning see it to be a barbed question and say, almost innocently, “What do you mean?”

Bear with me; this WILL pertain to you as a Funeral Director quite quickly – I promise.

Have you ever:

  1. 1) Gone to a web site and found it cluttered, difficult to navigate, or filled with “self-puffery,” with information only on how great the company is with nothing there that addresses you and your needs or concerns?
  2. 2) Been to a store and wanted to check out, and had to wait because only 2 or 3 of the 15 or 20 check-out lines were open? And those check-out clerks were poorly trained and continually needed help to serve the current customer?
  3. 3) Called, ready to buy, credit card in hand, and you weren’t able to get “a live body” without going through a maze of choices offered by an automated voice?

Those are just three examples of how a company can make it difficult for their customers to do business with them. Haven’t you experienced all three of these examples? Didn’t they make you frustrated at the least and angry at the worst? Did any of these three experiences endear you to the offending company? I doubt it.

So, I ask you: “As a Funeral Director, owner, or manager, how do you make it hard for your families and your community to do business with you?”

  • A) How well trained is your staff in every aspect of your business? Do you role play regularly? Do you cross train? Or do you say, “They should know what to do; that is common sense.” If that is your opinion, who taught them?
  • B) How quickly and professionally do you handle every call that comes into your Funeral Home? Are those who answer (either in-house or your answering service) very well trained? Do you take calls immediately, or do you leave people on hold (vendors too) or make them wait for you to call them back?
  • C) Is your web site customer oriented? Are you direct and clear about pricing and options? Do you have multiple channels through which your community and families can contact you? Do you monitor ALL of those channels daily?
  • D) Are your web offerings mobile friendly? Remember, mobile is about mobility. People want to be and are “on the go.” Their hand held device, whether smart-phone or tablet, is how they communicate, and the mobile generations, Gen X and the Millennials, are increasingly the ones you’re dealing with now.

Now it’s your turn; think about your business, your families, and your community. Look at every aspect of your operation, and ask yourself and your staff: “How and where are we making it hard for our families and community to do business with us?”

Allow everyone to participate, and remember there are no bad or dumb suggestions. Write down every area where you feel there is (or potentially is) a choke point, a place where working with you might be or is actually more difficult than it should be.

When you go through this exercise, you will gain a deeper perspective of your business, and you should find ways to better serve your families and community by making it easier for them to contact and interact with you. It’s worth the effort.

Please leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Click here for more guest blog posts from Tim O’Brien.

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