The funeral industry is one of the most customer service oriented industries. Working with families during their most difficult times requires a sensitive approach to a difficult situation. Tensions often run high, and it requires specific skills in order to finesse the relationship, because ultimately the client experience is the most important experience. To introduce today’s topic of customer service tactics, let’s impart a story that will live in infamy:
In 1975, a young man named Craig Trounce worked at a retail store. During one of his shifts, an older gentleman brought in a pair of dirty old tires. Claiming he had purchased these tires on the promise that if they didn’t work out for him, that he could return them, the older gentleman demanded a refund. The company Trounce worked for that now sold pleated slacks and Oxford shirts had purchased the company where the older gentleman had originally purchased the tires. Trounce called a local tire shop, came up with a fair value for the used tires, and paid the older gentleman out of the till. The company that Trounce worked for, was Nordstrom.
So how does a retail customer service story relate to the funeral industry?
Quality Employee Interactions: Each of your employees act as a face for your business. From the first phone call to your billing coordinator, each touch point contributes to the overall experience of your customer. It’s important to make sure that each of your employees are prepared to interact with a grieving family from the language they use, tone, and their body language. No one wants to hear, “Sure man, we can totally do that for ya’” with a slap on the back.
Professional interactions don’t have to be stiff and impersonal! On the contrary, part of professionalism is using the right tone and words. You don’t need to replace slang with every fancy sounding word in the thesaurus. Instead, speak plainly and clearly. “We can surely get this taken care of for you,” sounds a lot better than the informality of the previous statement. Be sure to train your employees on proper tactics, and give your customers the best experience.
Integrity of Your Business: When customers come to your funeral home, they come with an expectation for how they should be treated and the quality of the products and services. Does the motto of your business speak to these expectations? Do the ways you promote your business actually translate to the way you perform your business? The integrity of your business shines brighter during the difficult customer situations. For example, when you have a family that is unsatisfied with problems that arise have the proper communication. Trying to diminish the problem only sends the message to your customer that you don’t truly care about their business. However trivial the problem may be work to rectify the issue and validate their frustrations. “I understand your frustrations, this is what we can do…” sends the proper message and also guides them towards solutions. Which leads us to…
No Means Yes: When your customers come to you with questions, they don’t want to hear no. They want to hear a solution. Instead of simply saying no, offer an alternative solution. Tell them what you can do for them. Work with them towards a solution that will service both your needs.
The funeral industry is heavily dependent on customer experiences. It’s common to take care of many people within family throughout the years. However, in order for families to continue using a preferred funeral home, they have to first have good experience. From the time they first call, meet you at a community event, or even attend one of your other services, they need to see the professionalism that your establishment entails.
What struggles do you face as a business? Comment below or email us directly! We’d love to respond with specifics that are tailored to your business.