Sep 26, 2013
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. ASD Call Specialists are often required to step into a diplomatic role in order to calm down callers who are dealing with a high level of emotional stress. 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. Every week, ASD spotlights an employee 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 of the Week” winners for the month of September:
Understanding the subtle phrases and unspoken clues beneath a caller’s words is a crucial component to ASD’s training program. Our Call Specialists are trained to carefully discern whether callers are asking about service times or to discuss a funeral for their loved one. This week our Assistant Supervisor, Rose, answered a call from a woman who wanted to verify if a deceased person was at the funeral home. When Rose did not see any service information listed, she asked the caller if she was a family member and whether the person she was calling about just passed away. It turned out the caller was a niece who needed to find out if her aunt had been taken into the funeral home’s care. Rose is a “Sensitive Save” award winner for asking the crucial follow up questions necessary to determine the true nature of the call.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a funeral director is when the death of a relative or close friend is reported. We understand how difficult this must be for funeral directors who must often hide their grief in order to support others. This week our Training Specialist, Laura, handled a First Call for the father in law of the funeral director who was on call. While the account was set up so that the director would receive a text before being contacted with the message, Laura recognized that this situation required immediate attention and patched the caller to the director. She understood that the director would want to speak to his in laws without delay and did not want him to receive the news of his father in law’s passing from a text message. Later that night, the director called in personally to thank her. Laura is a “Sensitive Save” award winner for going above and beyond on this call.
ASD Call Specialists answer only for funeral homes and funeral related businesses. This allows us to tailor our training so that our Call Specialists can pick up on subtle clues and key phrases that allow them to identify the urgency of every call. This week, our Assistant Supervisor, Stephanie, answered a call from a gentleman who spoke very casually and told Stephanie, “I just want to leave my address since the bill will be in my name.” To the untrained ear, this statement might sound like a routine billing message that could wait until office hours. However, ASD Call Specialists are trained to hear what isn’t said, prompting Stephanie to ask, “Are you calling to report a passing?” Stephanie discovered the caller’s brother had passed, and while he did not define his call as urgent she knew the director would want to talk to him without delay. She is a “Sensitive Save” award winner for paying close attention to the caller and taking that extra step to ensure the funeral director could connect immediately to the family.
When a person passes or is close to passing, the funeral home is most likely contacted by a family member or healthcare professional. However, during difficult and stressful times, it is common for family members to rely on others to make these calls. At ASD, we will never assume a call isn’t urgent based on how the caller identifies him or herself. This week our Call Specialist, Kristen, answered a call from a woman who identified herself as “the funeral home florist” and casually stated that she needed the funeral director to call her the following morning about a referral. Rather than assuming the call was regarding a flower order, Kristin inquired if the ‘referral’ was related to a passing. The caller then revealed that someone was close to passing and she was calling on behalf of the family. Kristin is a “Sensitive Save” award winner for asking the important follow up questions that led her to discover the true urgency of this call.
Has ASD ever handled a particularily 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