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Many of our Call Specialists describe the intangible satisfaction they gain helping others through difficult moments in their lives. Having the ability to provide a moment of peace to a distraught widow or knowing how to reassure an angry grieving father – these experiences leave one with a feeling of having done important work that matters at the end of every shift. Yet, there is no getting around the fact that handling these calls can be more than a little intimidating at first.

We understand that anxiety can and will arise during the early days of training and beyond. You may be wondering, “does everyone feel like this when they first start” and the answer is YES, we have all experienced those emotions. This is why our training period officially ends after 6 months, not after you begin taking calls independently. It is completely normal to feel nervous during this time and with everyone now working remotely, you don’t get the same level of reassurance that you would if you were working in an office.

While it may not be possible to talk in the break room with your co-workers or to listen to how others answer calls in our call center, we encourage you to explore other ways to connect with one another. Participating in zoom calls with your team lead, visiting the employee bulletin board on Client 0, page 4 or playing our Quizbreaker game are a few of the ways you can do this. We believe there is real value in hearing the perspectives from others who have been where you are.


Below, 15 of ASD’s seasoned Call Specialists offer their best advice for new employees at ASD.


“Take each call one at a time. Be natural. Try not to be overwhelmed if the volume is high. Do your best and learn to let go. Breathe between calls. In time, your confidence will grow. It’s really true if you smile with each call it softens people. I like to walk after each shift to let go. Find something to help you release the stress.”

-Debra Tonuci-Olivieri | Joined ASD: March 2018 | Job Title: Training Call Specialist

“I would advise a new trainee to listen carefully to the callers. If you are not clear on what the caller needs, do not be afraid to ask a few questions to clarify. It takes time to feel comfortable with the fast-paced call volume. So, be patient with yourself and the callers. Brief messages that are to the point are best. Type as they talk so you won’t forget what they said. Above all, be kind to all callers no matter what.”

-Noemi Camacho | Joined ASD: June 2018 | Job Title: Senior Call Specialist

“The best advice I could give is to not be too hard on yourself. While this probably sounds like some kind of platitude, it is very important in our line of work. In this job, your state of mind deeply impacts your job performance. If you are feeling anxious or nervous, it is going to greatly diminish your “cognitive nimbleness.”


If you make a mistake on one call, it’s okay. Especially starting out, nobody is perfect. Try and learn the lesson that the situation can teach you. If you dwell on your mistake, that anxiety is going to diminish your mental capacity, which in turn could lead to another mistake creating a negative feedback loop.


Some steps that you can take to minimize anxiety are to maintain relaxed body posture, smile when appropriate, and understand that you are not going to be perfect right away. Improvement takes time so enjoy the journey instead of lamenting that you haven’t arrived yet.”

-David Tillman | Joined ASD: April 2018 | Job Title: Client Solutions Specialist

“Take a deep breath and try to relax. Remember most callers are going through a hard time and emotionally are everywhere. Do your best to feel empathetic and compassionate. We genuinely are guiding these families and friends through their own journey of loss and grief. Try to be patient and attentive. Do your best to imagine having to make these type of calls and the feelings you would experience if in their shoes. ASD has amazing coworkers to always talk to if you are struggling or have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. We all have been there and understand how hard and anxious it feels for the first few months.”

-Christina “Tina” Boyle | Joined ASD: December 2008 | Job Title: Training Specialist

“Stay committed to learning. If you are not willing to learn, you won’t be able to grow. Stay positive and remember you could one day be on the other end of the phone.”

-Janel Francis | Joined ASD: July 2016 | Job Title: Senior Call Specialist

“Breathe. Focus on each caller, do not worry about the number of calls in queue or what may have happened on a previous call. Stay focused and remember you can only handle one caller at a time. Listen, follow account instructions and relax.”

-Denise Bell | Joined ASD: December 2009 | Job Title: Senior Call Specialist

“I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given this year to be a trainer for ASD. My advice would be to just breathe, relax, take your time with the caller and really listen. As your confidence builds everything will fall into place. Supervisors at ASD are amazing and can always help, they are a great resource for those questionable calls.”

-Lynn DiStefano | Joined ASD: Sept 2018 | Job Title: Training Call Specialist

“Stay calm. A lot of times we are the first person that the family will be speaking with. The compassion, love and understanding we can give these families even just over the phone is so important.”

-Ann Marie Callahan | Joined ASD: October 2002 | Job Title: Senior Call Specialist

“Something I tell all my trainees is not to get bogged down thinking about everything you can or cannot say using proper call control. I remind them on the other end of the call is another human person and to acknowledge them accordingly. I would like to think I’m not training current trainees, but future trainers.”

-Tyler Farmer | Joined ASD: March 2017 | Job Title: Training Call Specialist

“Remember to breathe. The calls will get easier to take with time and experience. There will always be one that is weird and different, but that just keeps things interesting. Also, supervision always has your back, they are great people who really want you to succeed.”

-Antonia Montague | Joined ASD: April 2019 | Job Title: Advanced Call Specialist

“Just do what comes naturally, because helping people comes natural.”

-Conor Fitzgerald | Joined ASD: October 2017 | Job Title: Training Specialist

“Just be patient and listen to the callers. Put yourself in their shoes to guide you through any situation. What may be urgent to them is not always urgent to the business. Remember the funeral directors deal with a lot of turmoil that we are not even aware of and they rely on us to decipher what is urgent and what is not. If you are uncertain, always reach out to a Supervisor or Trainer, I am always willing to help!”

-Devy Jimerson | Joined ASD: April 2018 | Job Title: Training Call Specialist

“Follow ASD Standards, be present in the conversation, and take it one call and one account at a time.”

-Teresa Kobylarz | Joined ASD: September 2014 | Job Title: Assistant Supervisor

“It’s OK not to know everything. There is always someone here to help you and there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. We want you to succeed.”

Summer Greenwood | Joined ASD: April 2020 | Job Title: Client Solutions Specialist

“Take your time. Never be afraid to ask questions no matter how small. Invest in candles and wax melts, can help with stress. Also Post-It notes…lots of Post-It notes, get multicolored it makes your desk pretty haha.”

-Sean Mehlbaum | Joined ASD: June 2020 | Job Title: Client Solutions Specialist