Oct 29, 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” winners for the month of October:
On occasion, ASD will handle a Spanish call for a funeral director who does not speak Spanish and needs assistance with translating the call. This week our Assistant Supervisor, Isabel, answered a late night call from another funeral home located in Puerto Rico. The funeral home needed to talk to the director about a very time-sensitive issue involving a family who needed to transport their loved ones remains to the states. Isabel was able to provide assurances to the caller in Spanish and then contact the director to translate the call. She is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for helping the funeral home to coordinate arrangements for the family.
When listening to callers, ASD Call Specialists pay close attention to the person’s tone of voice and telephone demeanor. However, our Call Specialists understand that a caller’s voice may not always reflect the true urgency of the call. This week our Training Specialist, Heather, answered a call from a woman who identified herself as a friend of the director in a casual tone of voice. After obtaining basic contact information, Heather asked the caller what her call was concerning. “I just have a question. I’ve known Tony for years.” Rather than assuming this was a personal call for Tony, Heather followed up by gently asking, “Has someone just passed away.” The caller then revealed that her brother had passed and she was handling everything for her sister in law. Heather is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for recognizing this caller’s need and ensuring the director could return her call immediately.
One of the most pivotal lessons an ASD Call Specialist must learn during our 6-month training program is recognizing the difference between a first call and an inquiry about service information. This week our Assistant Supervisor, Kierstin, answered a call from a woman asking if the funeral home was handling a service for someone whose name was not listed. Keirstin asked, “Are you calling to notify the funeral home of the passing or checking service details?” The caller responded that she was checking service details. However, Kierstin could hear a great deal of commotion in the background and it was obvious the caller was in a loud environment. While obtaining contact information, Kierstin realized the caller’s last name was the same as the name of the person she was inquiring about and immediately asked if she was calling about a family member. It turned out the caller was the daughter of the woman who had passed and she wasn’t sure if the hospital had already called to notify the director. Kierstin is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for asking the right follow up questions on this very difficult call.
It is not uncommon for ASD to answer a call from someone who is at the funeral home door. It is often the case that the person calling will have a foreign accent, as it is more common in other cultures for family members to visit a funeral home unannounced. This week our Call Specialist, Kristen, answered a call from a woman with an Asian accent who was outside the funeral home and wanted to know if the office was open. Kristen explained that while the directors were currently away from the funeral home, someone was always available. The caller then stated, “If they are closed, I come back later.” Kristen then immediately inquired if someone had recently passed. The women stated that she was “preparing her elderly mother.” Kristen was able to determine that the caller’s mother was very close to passing and this would be an urgent message for the director on call. She assured the caller that someone could help her now and obtained contact information so the funeral director could immediately follow up. Kristen is this week’s “Sensitive Save of the Week” winner for the careful listening she exhibited throughout the call as well as the calm reassurances she provided to the woman calling.
Click here to read last month’s Sensitive Save of the Week 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