How to Turn Lazy Employees into Funeral RockstarsJuly 13th, 2016
When it comes to most businesses, employees will often try to meet their customer’s needs, but rarely do they get the opportunity to make an emotional connection with the people they are helping. But for employees in the funeral profession, it’s the complete opposite.
Delivering an extraordinary, emotional funeral experience for families begins and ends with the employees working at your funeral home. If your staff is not following the right strategy, communicating the right message, sharing the right insights, or working towards the right vision, you will never be able to give your families the experience they deserve.
Luckily for you, nothing gets us more excited than learning how to deliver the best customer experience in the world. (And lucky for everyone, it’s our guiding principle when it comes to helping and supporting your families). So today, we are giving you all the information and tips that you could ever need to teach your employees how to become customer experience rockstars. But first…
What Is Customer Service and Why Is It Important?
Good, great or excellent customer service can mean a lot of things to a lot of different companies… and customers for that matter. But one thing is clear… everyone knows when they have had a bad customer experience. In fact, when a customer’s had a bad experience with a company, it reaches the ears of twice as many family and friends as it would if they’d had a good experience. Scary, right? An even scarier insight: it takes around 12 positive experiences with a company to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
So making sure that the families walking into your funeral home have a great experience with your firm isn’t just important for keeping families coming back… it affects whether or not their friends and family come back too. The customer experience that your funeral staff delivers also impacts whether or not your families may choose you over another firm in your area. According to a Peppers and Rogers study, 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competitors.
As you can see, customer experience has never been more important to your funeral home’s strategy. Now how do you make it a priority for the staff who are working for you?
How Your Staff Can Deliver An Above & Beyond Experience
1. Put Yourself In The Shoes Of Every Role… Not Just The Customer
Great customer support staff puts themselves into the shoes of the people that they are helping. They show empathy and make it clear to the family member they are helping that they understand the position that they are in, and make it clear that they value their happiness and that they will do whatever it takes to make their experience a great one. An empathetic employee can also make smarter decisions for the families they are serving, because they will be able to fully understand the ramifications that the wrong product or service will bring to an already fragile situation.
However, extraordinary customer support staff don’t just step into the shoes of their families, but also put themselves in the role of the company owner. How would they act if their own business and success were at stake? How would they serve families if their own reputation was on the line? When an employee adapts this role, they become fully committed to the success of their teams and the happiness of their families. They fully understand what they need to do to deliver a great customer experience, and they have the drive, talent, skill and motivation to deliver that “WOW” factor to every person walking through their door.
2. Be Even More Accessible Than You Already Are
Don’t worry… we’re not saying that you need to have even less of a work/life balance than you already have. (Is that even possible for funeral professionals?) But when you are on-call or working at your funeral home, you need to be there 150% for your families.
This starts by answering questions, emails and phone calls in a timely manner… even if you have to appoint one single employee to this task each day to make sure that it gets done. Why is this so important? Because it’s something that families already expect you to do. When a family member calls your funeral home, they expect someone to answer the phone, or at least be easily accessible. And once they reach a member of your funeral home staff, they expect their questions to be answered promptly.
According to the Customer Satisfaction Index, responding quickly to an inquiry has the single greatest impact on customer satisfaction, and companies with an average first-response time of less than 10 hours have customer satisfaction ratings of over 90%.
3. Learn To Be A Detective
Excellent customer support doesn’t just require effective listening skills… you need to be able to get to the heart of your families wants, needs and concerns. Listen carefully to what your families are asking for, and then use your expertise to determine what they really need to be satisfied and begin healing.
The ability to really listen to your families is super important for providing great service for a few reasons… Not only is it important to pay attention to your families’ requests and interactions (watching the language and terms that they use to describe their needs, and paying attention to what service and products help them the most), but it’s also important to really listen and evaluate the feedback that they give you.
For instance, families may not say it right to your face, but there may be a pervasive feeling that they want more personalization from your services. They aren’t likely to say, “How can I better represent my dad?”, but they may say things like, “He loved to fish, do you have any print-outs that go with that theme?” or “My dad would hate this… he always said he didn’t want his funeral to be a sad affair.” It’s your job as a funeral detective to take the information that you are hearing and turn it into a better experience for your families.
4. Solve Problems Before They’re Brought To Your Attention
The best customer-centric companies in the world don’t just wait for a problem to come to their attention before they work to solve it… they take a proactive approach in managing any possible issues that may come up, and they are already prepared with the best solution when a problem finally arises. How do they do this? They put the same detective work we mentioned above to use and gather “clues” and read between the lines during communication with their families. This allows them to solve problems and prepare answers before the problem is even posed to them.
Don’t believe us that proactive problem solving is the answer? A report by Enkata found that taking initiative in your support could increase customer retention rates by 3-5%, and that when companies were able to control the lines of communication with their customers, the customers not only talked their brand to their friends and their family in private, but they also talked about the brand in public via social media. By being proactive, it gives you the chance to be involved in their conversation and engage.
5. Deliver A Seamless Experience, No Matter What Channel
In today’s age, families don’t expect the conversation that they have with your funeral home to be limited to just one support channel. Instead of reaching out to you via phone, they expect to be able to contact you through your website or even social media pages when they need support. This expectation has only begun to grow as more and more families have become impatient with traditional customer support and more simple, streamlined communication channels have opened up, like Twitter support accounts.
Today’s families also want a one-stop-shop for all of their needs… for example, in the funeral space, they don’t want an experience that makes them jump around from the funeral home website to their loved one’s tribute page, and then to the local flower shop website.
These types of streamlined services are one reason driving the popularity of disruptive new services like Uber… People aren’t choosing Uber over traditional cabs because Uber uses more efficient routes or has a better safety record. They make the whole experience of ordering a ride, waiting for the ride, and paying for the ride so much simpler… that’s why people choose them over other alternatives.
Your funeral home website needs to do the same. You need a one-stop-shop for all of your families needs… a place where they can go to find their loved one’s service information, share a story about their life, upload a photo from their past, stream their funeral webcast online, and even send flowers right to the funeral service… all without leaving your funeral home website. Luckily, with f1Connect, you can do all that and more.
To learn more about how you can create a seamless experience for the families who are visiting your funeral home website, and how you can use f1Connect’s services to turn your employees into a staff of funeral rockstars, click here to talk to one of our funeral success specialists. It’s one of the best things that you can do for your funeral home and, more importantly, your families.