May 31, 2016
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. Each week, ASD spotlights a Call Specialist who handles a particularly challenging call with patience and accuracy as the “Sensitive Save” award winner. 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 May:
Funeral directors work hard to earn the loyalty and trust of families. For this reason, many families will ask to speak specifically to the director who served them in the past. Whenever a caller is hesitant to provide First Call details, our staff is trained to gather just the contact information so the director can follow up. This week our Call Specialist, Dana, answered a call for a woman who stated she needed to speak to a particular director who was very helpful to her in the past. Dana assured the woman she could contact the director immediately. However, the caller had reservations because she was calling on behalf of a friend and wasn’t in charge of making arrangements. “It’s not for me, so I really don’t want to give any information. I’ll just call tomorrow,” the caller stated. Before she could hang up, Dana reassured her that she understood her concerns and would just need her name and phone number so that the director she knew personally could immediately return her call. This prompted the caller to provide her information. Dana is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for providing the proper reassurances to this caller to make her feel comfortable giving her contact details.
At ASD, our Call Specialists know they must be prepared for every type of call and that in some extreme cases, the person calling may be in a state of shock. This week our Call Specialist, Brenda, answered a call from a gentleman who immediately exclaimed, “I think my brother is dead! He’s on the floor. I don’t know what to do.” The caller was hysterical and Barbara immediately offered her condolences and assurances. After gathering his contact information and a few other details about the situation, she asked the gentleman if he had contacted the police. The caller said he had called 9-1-1 and did not get an answer. Recognizing that this caller was in shock and needed someone to walk him through this process, Barbara asked the caller if he could hold for just a moment while she got the funeral director on the line. She then contacted the on-call director, explained the situation and immediately connected the call. Barbara is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for responding to this distraught caller with compassion and empathy. By recognizing the gravity of this call, she was able to ensure no time was wasted in connecting this gentleman to the director on call.
When handling a first call, our Call Specialists must sometimes speak with multiple family members while gathering information. This week our Call Specialist, Sara, answered a call from a woman who wanted to know the funeral home’s office hours. After she provided this, the caller said “thank you” and almost hung up, but Sara quickly inquired if someone had passed away. The caller then revealed that someone had passed and Sara assured her a director could always be contacted. She then began gathering more information from the caller, despite the challenging background noise that occurred throughout the call. When Sara inquired where the person had passed, the caller placed her on hold and a few moments later, a different voice picked up the line. Sara then began speaking with the daughter of the woman who had passed who was very distraught. She offered her condolences and reassured her that a director would be able to walk her through everything she needed to do. Sara is our “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for earning the trust of both family members, demonstrating patience and collecting all of the necessary information accurately.
The first question a family member might ask a funeral home after someone passes is not always as straightforward as, ‘can you handle my loved one’s services.’ Often, there are other concerns that might prevent the caller from immediately stating that a death has occurred. This week our Call Specialist, Rosemary, answered a call from a gentleman who had questions about a local church near the funeral home. When Rosemary offered to have a director return his call, the gentleman said he could call later to speak to someone. Rosemary then gently inquired if someone had passed away, to which the caller responded, “it’s a complicated situation. I’d rather just talk to them.” This led Rosemary to assure the caller that she could get in touch with someone immediately for him. The caller then revealed his name and phone number and a little more about the situation. By listening and repeating information, Rosemary was able to earn the caller’s trust and he eventually confided that it was his wife who had passed away out of state. This gave Rosemary an opportunity to express her condolences. She then offered to immediately contact the director to further assist him with the process. Rosemary is our “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for asking the right follow up questions and providing the proper assurances to help this caller feel comfortable providing his information.
Click here to read about April’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