4 Examples of a Great Customer Experience To Inspire Your Funeral HomeJuly 31st, 2014
“Funeral service just happens to be an old-fashioned, traditional goods- and services-based industry that might suffer more growing pains because it may have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Experience Economy.”
And he’s right. Funeral service, in many ways, has been dragging its feet to catch up with the rest of the world in the “Experience Economy.” Don’t get me wrong, some businesses have made an effort to create a truly unforgettable funeral home customer service experience. But why isn’t everyone jumping on that bandwagon?
It’s time to start offering unforgettable funeral home customer service
We already know that our beloved Baby Boomers are seeking out those experiences, so why aren’t they a standard? I think part of the problem is there needs to be more education out there on creating memorable experiences. And that, my friends, is why I’m here to explain what exactly makes a great experience at your funeral home.
Here are four examples of companies who are offering amazing customer service, and what we, as funeral professionals, can takeaway from them:
#1: Morton’s Steakhouse makes a Tweet come true
One day, well-known business consultant, Peter Shankman, was REALLY craving a steak. So, before a long day of flying, he sent out this Tweet (he later notes this was NOT staged, planned or serious in any way):
To his surprise, Morton’s Steakhouse in Newark (which, keep in mind, was 23 miles away from the airport) had actually listened and was waiting for him at the airport when he landed. Peter describes his amazing story in this article, where he says:
“Alex, from Morton’s Hackensack walks up to me, introduces himself, and hands me a bag. He proceeds to tell me that he’d heard I was hungry, and inside is a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous round things of bread, two napkins, and silverware.”
The takeaway: Social media is a hugely important tool for listening to your customers. By staying on top of your social efforts and regularly monitoring your brand, you can make a huge impact. It didn’t take a ton of time or effort for Morton’s to pull this together. But by listening to their audience (especially key influencers like Peter) and going above and beyond what was expected, they’ve built a reputation in their industry as being attentive and delivering WOW customer service. Plus, Morton’s created a ton of buzz around their company – in fact, this story has become one of the most talked about customer service stories of all time. Remember that even the littlest acts of kindness or surprise can make a huge difference.
#2: Sainsbury’s takes notes from a 3-year-old
When three (and a half, she insists)-year-old Lily Robinson wrote a letter to the well known Sainsbury’s UK grocery store questioning the name of their Tiger Bread (below). She thought it was silly that the bread was called Tiger Bread because the pattern on it, in her opinion, looked more like a Giraffe.
In response to her letter, customer service rep Chris King sent her a letter with a $25 gift card to their store, saying:
“I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it? It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a loooong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.”
Taking a cue from their three-year-old customer, Sainsbury’s changed the name of their Tiger bread and even put a sign around their stores, offering a funny tribute to Lily’s idea.
The takeaway: Taking your families’ suggestions into account – and using them effectively – is a great way to let them know you care about their opinion. It makes your families feel like their opinion matters, and that they matter. But also remember that it’s just as important to let your potential families know about how much you care, too. If Sainsbury’s hadn’t created signs around their store to let people know about their awesome act of customer service, they wouldn’t have attracted new customers because of it. Think about the next time you listen to your families suggestions.
#3 Trader Joes helps a snowed out WWII vet
During an epic snowstorm that left everyone in her town snowed in, a worried daughter called every grocery store in town asking if they would deliver groceries to her 89-year-old father (who is a retired WWII vet). After getting a slew of “nos”, the irritated daughter called Trader Joes and explained the situation to them. Although Trader Joes didn’t have a delivery service, they told her they would have the list of groceries she requested to her father in an instant. When she asked how she could pay for the groceries, they simply told her “Merry Christmas!”.
And within 30 minutes, the woman’s hungry father received not one day’s worth of food, but a few. Trader Joes threw in some suggested items for him without asking any questions. The best part? Because the father was so grateful for Trader Joes’ act of kindness, he immediately tried (unsuccessfully) leaving the house to thank them.
The takeaway: When anyone calls your funeral home requesting something unusual, don’t blow it off or say “sorry we don’t offer that”. Use this as an opportunity to surprise and delight a potential customer. All details – big and small – deserve attention and create your reputation in your community. Make sure you have the right people answering your phones, responding to inquiries and directing services for your families. If they’re not proactive about spotting potential opportunities like this one, find a way to educate them on how to be open and responsive to meeting families needs and dealing with the unexpected.
#4: Jimyz Automotive focuses on the little everyday things
So far, all of the customer service stories I’ve mentioned are about out-of-the-ordinary examples of great customer service, but what about the companies who consistently offer great customer service, every single day?
That’s why Jimyz Automotive deserves an honorable mention on this list. In a post we found on Reddit, one Jimyz Automotive customer shares a photo of a thank you card he received shortly after sending his car in to Jim for service (below). Turns out, Jim sends these out to every customer he serves. He has become so well known for his thank you cards in his community, commenters on Reddit recognized the business simply from the card.
The takeaway: Amazing customer service should not be limited to special circumstances. You can incorporate simple (yet powerful) techniques like this into every element of your funeral home, making your families feel special in even the most common of instances.
Before you take off, think about this…
It’s time to put an end to the horror stories I hear everyday about funeral homes deceiving, tricking or simply treating their families poorly. I know it’s tough to keep an eye on every aspect of your business, and I know it’s easy to overlook the small things. I get it. Everyone knows funeral professionals are put under a lot of stress.
But you know what’s more valuable than advertising, marketing, business plans or revenue growth? A happy customer. In a world of change, you can’t count on much these days in funeral service, but the one thing you can count on is the happiness of a family that you’ve gone above and beyond for. And after all, isn’t that what we’re all seeking here? Just one last thing I want you to remember about funeral home customer service, best said by Roger Staubach: “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”
What’s the best customer service story your funeral home has? Tell us in the comments below!