Should Funeral Homes Use Texting to Communicate with Families?
Jun 10, 2020
ASD’s National Sales Manager, Craig Meehan, recently took part in a frank and thought-provoking discussion about funeral home text messaging for the Elevating Funeral Service podcast. Craig sat down and spoke with podcast hosts, Ellery Bowker (Founder of Aftercare.com) and Welton Hong (Founder of Ring Ring Marketing) about how funeral professionals can utilize text messaging to communicate with families before, during and after their loved one is in the funeral home’s care. Craig, Ellery and Welton examined some of the reservations funeral professionals might have about text messaging and provided concrete examples of different ways it can be used to add value to the family’s experience with the funeral home.
To listen to the podcast, click on the video below or click on one of the buttons to below to listen on your favorite Podcast app.
Do you text with the families you are serving today? Do you have a way price shoppers can text a question? Are you following up with families after the service is over with text messaging?
Texting families may initially seem impersonal given the nature of death care, but funeral homes that are doing it are sharing how much families appreciate it and how it elevates the level of the service they provide.
- Examples of how texting is benefiting families and funeral homes
- How to use texting to win more price shopper calls
- Ideas on using group texting to provide updates to families
A few key takeaways:
“For me, it’s first class service. It’s not impersonal, it’s getting to the point and showing the person that you care.”-Craig Meehan
“I think it’s definitely personal because it shows that you care about my time.”-Ellery Bowker
“You’re potentially losing calls if you’re not able to receive text messages. You have to have multiple ways for people to communicate with you. Texting is a great avenue.”-Welton Hong
“Most of our new products and tools come from our clients requesting it. Right now, we have about 1,400 clients actively using MobileFH® Texting. There have been 31,872 unique conversations with families and 136,000 volleys between the funeral director and the families. It equals out to about 7 texts per families. So the families are engaging with this and they definitely don’t mind being contacted this way, especially if they engage the conversation.”-Craig Meehan
“For me, it feels intimate and immediate. I think that a lot of funeral homes are missing a lot of opportunities on the preneed side because they don’t give ways for customers to contact them about preneed other than a phone number. If I’m the consumer and I’ve never planned a funeral before, and I’m on your website and I have questions and I see a button that says “text us your questions.” Well now, there is an open line of communicate with someone who is not just perusing on a funeral home website. You can follow up later with someone along the lines of, ‘thanks for that question the other day, do you have any new questions.’ Or you can offer to send them a guide. If you can send it over email, you can send it over text.”-Ellery Bowker
“With pricing, people that haven’t done it before, they are calling multiple times with questions they forgot to ask. If you can text them your pricing or information sheet, and that’s in front of them when they are calling multiple funeral homes, you’re going to stand out. They just feel more comfortable with you.”-Craig Meehan
“Another way to use texting is in service of the family. I think aside from the obvious getting questions answered, I think it’s a way you can show value by adding updates and letting families know what’s going on. I would use it for group texts for updates. How’s it going to hurt? I think a lot of people will thank you for that update.”-Ellery Bowker
“To me, it’s nice that a funeral director just texts me periodically to see how things are going. I think it’s very very caring. They are checking in on me – it’s what friends do.”-Welton Hong
“There’s a real easy way to see if a family wants to text: you just ask! “What is your preferred method of communication?”-Craig Meehan
Podcast Notes and Resources
- Introduction of special guest Craig Meehan from Answering Service for Directors [ASD] (1:13)
- As a general practice, should a funeral home use texting to communicate with families, and why? (2:23)
- Discussion of ZDNet survey about whether consumers want businesses [of all types] to text them (7:45)
- Discussion of a survey Ellery conducted two years ago regarding how funeral directors feel about texting, with comments from FDs (10:00)
- Craig explains ASD's perspectives and practices on texting (19:15)
- Fun anecdote: Ellery recently bought a brand-new car entirely through text messages (22:45)
- Ellery lists reasons he believes texting isn't necessarily considered impersonal today (23:42)
- Using texting to generate at-needs (26:52)
- Using texting to promote preneed sales (32:14)
- Using texting as another way to serve families you're currently helping (36:14)
- Craig notes how using texting to serve families has the ancillary benefit of indirectly promoting your services to other family members (39:27)
- Using texting specifically for aftercare (43:40)
- How texting adds value while also displaying empathy (46:00)
About the Elevating Funeral Service Podcast
Elevating Funeral Service is a podcast that teaches funeral homes, cemeteries, and pet cremation providers how stand out from the competition by offering families more value, creating the best customer experience, and clearly communicating that in their marketing. Each week, podcast hosts, Ellery Bowker (Founder of Aftercare.com) and Welton Hong (Founder of Ring Ring Marketing) examine an aspect of funeral service and show that by elevating it, funeral professionals can significantly improve the family's experience and their bottom line. These weekly "lessons" provide clear examples of how to improve each part and provide key takeaways to help funeral professionals grow their business.
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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