Mar 26, 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. 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” winners for the month of March:
Many funeral home callers are hesitant to label their needs as urgent or to request an immediate call back, especially when they have a close relationship to the director. Over the weekend, our Assistant Supervisor, Kierstin, answered a call from the woman who initially wanted to hang up and call back later. “I work for the company, so if he’s not in I can just call him on Monday.” Before the caller hung up, Kierstin inquired if someone had passed. The woman paused for a long moment before saying no. Kierstin could sense that something was wrong and asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to leave your number for a call back?” The woman then decided to relay her contact information and revealed that her father was close to passing. Because she worked at the funeral home, she was unsure if she should ask for a call back but Kierstin reassured her that the director would want to assist her without delay. She received our “Sensitive Save of the Week” award for helping this caller to feel comfortable disclosing the reason for her call
Many funeral homes have more than one location. This week our Assistant Supervisor, Margaret, answered a call from a gentleman who stated, “I spoke to someone yesterday about my mother. We decided we want to use their other location instead of this one.” At ASD, our Call Specialists are trained that a caller may not always fully explain their situation. When Margaret inquired if the gentleman’s mother had just passed away. He responded, “yes she did but we talked to them yesterday.” She gathered his contact information and then asked if his mother had been taken into the funeral home’s care. This discovery question led the gentleman to explain that his mother was still in the hospital. While he had spoken to a director the day before about her imminent passing, the funeral home had not been made aware of her death. Margaret’s thoughtful follow up questions helped her to determine the urgent nature of his call and the importance of contacting the on-call director without any delay. She was recognized with ASD’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” award during the 2nd week in March.
One of the most important qualities an ASD Call Specialist must possess is intuition. Our employees are trained to listen for certain key phrases and indicators that reveal that the call is about a recent death. This week our Training Specialist, Lauren, answered a call from a gentleman who stated he was calling about a ship out and would try back later. Lauren recognized this phrase and asked if the gentleman was calling from another funeral home about a passing. The caller stated that he was and that the hospital would be calling with all the details. He said he would call back later but Lauren immediately followed up by asking, “What is your contact information so I can give the director a heads up about the call?” Lauren’s understanding of funeral director terminology and phrases helped her to both identify the situation at hand and persuade the caller to provide more details. She received our “Sensitive Save of the Week” award for demonstrating intuition and expertise throughout this challenging call.
A person’s tone of voice can often tell a lot about their emotional state. However, ASD Call Specialists have learned that there are occasions when the opposite can be true as well. People grieve very differently and there are many reasons why a caller may not reveal an emotional inflection in their voice after the passing of a loved one. This week our Training Specialist, Kourtney, answered a call from a gentleman who casually stated his name and that he was a friend of the directors from a business dining club. When Kourtney inquired what the call was concerning, he stated that it was a personal matter. Although the gentleman’s voice sounded friendly, Kourtney gently inquired if the call was related to a recent passing. The caller hesitated and then responded with, “Uh, yes. My grandmother.” She then assured the gentleman she would reach out to the director and asked if she could gather some information. It is calls like this that exemplify why ASD’s telephone screening is so thorough. Kourtney received our “Sensitive Save of the Week” award for recognizing that this was not a personal call but a new first call for funeral home and ensuring the director was made aware without delay.
Click here to read about February’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