Aug 21, 2013
The funeral profession is one of the few vocations where employees’ ages range from 18 to 80. The family dynamic of funeral homes often requires older and younger generations to compromise to work together harmoniously. Funeral homes must develop a business philosophy that combines traditional values with modern efficiencies in order to bridge the gap between generations. This collaboration allows multigenerational firms to offer families both experience and fresh ideas.
Communication is essential to a successful working relationship. Directors prefer to access and transmit information differently depending on their technical experience. This may create conflict when one person must adapt to another person’s style or technique that is outside of their comfort zone. Finding a solution that aligns with every director’s business philosophy is often a challenge for multigenerational firms.
Understanding that funeral homes require a range of communication tools, ASD has developed a suite of solutions to meet the needs of every experience level. Recently, we conducted a survey to determine how funeral homes use our service. We asked respondents to include their age to help us determine what features are utilized the most by each generation. Please note that we understand age does not necessarily equate to technical experience, but we wanted to share some of the general trends we’ve found among those surveyed.
How Baby Boomers use ASD (Ages 49-60)
- ► 31% use or have used the ASD Mobile app
- ► 63% prefer to receive messages through ASD’s voicemail system or to have them read over the phone by a Call Specialist.
ASD prides itself on being on the cutting edge of the latest technology, beginning with our sophisticated communication systems. We were one of the first answering services to provide clients with a recording of every call. When this technology became available, ASD focused a great deal of time developing a comprehensive and user-friendly voicemail system that directors could use to listen to messages, record obituary information and send ASD feedback. Many of our Boomer clients began using ASD’s service when our Voicemail system was the primary communication method, so it’s no surprise that it is still the preferred method among baby boomers.
We have found that the majority of clients who prefer to use our voicemail system or to have messages read over the phone enjoy the interaction with our Call Specialists and Supervisors. Older funeral directors have spent decades fostering personal relationships in their own communities and often place a high value on direct communication. We have found that these directors are very personable on the phone and appreciate the daily conversations they have with ASD’s representatives. They also prefer speaking to us directly to ask questions or give feedback on calls rather than using email or another contact method. At ASD, our 24/7 Supervisor team ensures that directors who prefer to speak over the phone can always reach someone no matter the time of day.
How Generation X uses ASD (Ages 36-48)
- ► 48% use or have used the ASD Mobile app
- ► 61% prefer to receive their message via a text message or email
The growth and evolution of mobile technology during the early years of the new millennium resulted in a major shift away from the paging model that many on-call professionals had used in the past. No longer did funeral directors have to fear missing a call the moment they left the office or worry about locating a pay phone on the side of a highway. This new medium lead to the advent of SMS messaging which allowed users to send and receive data on their mobile device without having to make a phone call. In 2000, Americans sent an average of 35 texts messages per month. In less than seven years, Americans were sending more text messages per month than phone calls.
ASD was one of the first answering services to recognize how this new technology could improve the lifestyle of funeral directors. In 2003, our technical team integrated ASD’s custom-built software with an automatic dispatch system so directors could receive messages via text. Several years later, we responded to feedback from directors requesting the ability to respond directly to text messages instead of calling ASD.
Text messaging is preferred the most by funeral directors from Generation X. This technology was just introduced around the time Generation X directors were graduating college and entering the workforce. Over the past decade, we have worked with funeral directors to refine our text-messaging solutions so that each person can be contacted according to their own preferences. For instance, while one director may want ASD to send a text and wait before dialing out on a message, others prefer to be called without delay and use the text message for future reference. We have also included an option in our ASD Mobile app so users can select if they would rather receive text messages, push notifications or both.
How Millennials use ASD (Ages 18 to 35)
- ► 69% use or have used the ASD Mobile app
- ► 72% prefer to receive their messages via text message or push notification
Today, the mobile phone has evolved into a small, handheld computer. Smartphones can be used to complete any number of business tasks while on the go. Millenials have grown up around this technology and have become accustomed to doing work on a small screen or using touch-screen technology. While text messages are still used frequently by millennials, this group is also comfortable using a wide variety of mediums depending on their environment. Mobile apps and push notifications can help streamline tasks and increase efficiencies for directors who prefer using this emerging technology.
While every age group surveyed included a large number of ASD Mobile users, millennials accounted for the highest number. They are also more likely to use a push notification instead of a text-message or to use both, in combination. As app developers work to create more business apps that help streamline tasks, millennials will be at the forefront to test new technologies and teach others how they can be adopted to increase efficiency.
Solutions for Every Generation
Multigenerational funeral homes have thrived for hundreds of years in this country and will continue to prevail no matter what technology is invented or becomes obsolete. Yet, when an office is able to synchronize communications, it benefits both customers and employees. With ASD, instead of being forced to compromise, every employee is able to use our service based on his or her comfort level.
Nearly every ASD account includes one staff member who has downloaded the ASD Mobile app and one who has not. Or conversely, one director who wants to have all messages read versus others who do not. There is no need for employees to be limited by their differences when a workable solution exists for everyone.
“Any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other and achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.” – Bill Gates.
If you work at a multigenerational funeral home, leave a comment and tell us about your family’s experiences using ASD’s different options.
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