5 Things A Great Funeral Director Will NEVER Say To Families

funeral director

Families come to funeral directors for a number of reasons… to get advice, to find answers, to get help, and even to find comfort. But most of all, families come to funeral professionals because they are the best go-to resource there is when it comes to everything funerals.

When faced with a new experience – especially one that involves the emotion and weight of losing a loved one – it’s reassuring to be able to go to someone who knows the process inside and out who can guide you through it. But at the same time, the funeral profession is a customer service industry at the very core. So a funeral professional’s job is not only to guide families through the funeral process, but also do whatever possible to take their experience above and beyond.

A funeral director can plan the most meaningful, beautiful funeral service in the world… but if families don’t feel like they like they had a great experience, it’s unlikely that they will return… or recommend the funeral home to family and friends. So what does it take to become a full-service funeral and customer experience rockstar? First, you need to communicate like one.

Here are five things a great funeral director should avoid saying to families if they’re aiming to deliver an amazing funeral experience:

1. “I know how you feel.”

Being empathetic is lesson #1 when it comes to delivering great customer service… but while you may be able to sympathize with the family members walking through your door or understand the feelings they may have, don’t assume that you know how they are feeling. While “I know how you feel,” is always said with good intentions, it can sometimes come off as presumptuous and can make people feel as though their emotions are something unimportant and common that people feel every day, instead of allowing them to feel them in the enormous, unique way that they need to.

What should you say instead: “I can’t imagine how you are feeling, but I want to help you in whatever way I can” or, “I can’t imagine what this must feel like for you. Is there anything specific I can do to help?” Each of these statements let families know that you recognize their grief and the uniqueness of their situation, and that you ultimately are there to help them – without trivializing their pain.

2. “We’ve always done it this way.”

Today’s families are looking for services that are a little more unique and non-traditional than those that they used for their grandparent’s funeral. It’s not that traditional funerals are no longer valued – it’s just that today’s generation of families want funerals that are as unique as they are, all the way from the music that is played to the setting the funeral takes place in. So if your funeral home doesn’t offer a mix of traditional and non-traditional services to meet the needs of all of the families walking through your door, now is the time to start.

What you should say instead: “We’ve never offered a service like that before, but we can make it happen for you.” You never know… you may just have a new top-selling service on your hands. Or if it’s not possible for your funeral home to offer the service, you could reach out to an event company or third-party funeral vendor who may be able to come in and fill your families’ requests.

3. “Are you sure?”

There is no kind of reassurance or self-confidence that comes with planning a funeral. Any time you are arranging the final send-off for someone significantly important to you, it’s only natural to second guess whether or not you are making the right choices. So when your families do finally settle in on a choice that they are secure with, don’t make them second guess it. This can make them feel foolish or fearful that they are making the wrong decisions, and can escalate their doubts into even bigger concerns.

What should you say instead: “These are the advantages and disadvantages of each of our options… which one do you think would best represent your loved one?” Families aren’t able to feel confident in their decisions when they’re not armed with all of the facts. So take the time to show families the value of the different options you offer, and then ask them to decide… that way you can both be confident in the decision that is made.

4. “That’s not my job.”

There are a lot of different elements and details that go into planning a funeral service. And while you may know that funeral directors do not issue copies of death certificates, or that a body has to sometimes go to a separate crematorium for cremation, many families do not know the ins and outs of the process. So if they ask you to do something that is not typically in your job description, do not be agitated. Simply remember that they are in the middle of a confusing, unknown process and are looking for support from the best person they can think of.

What should you say instead: “That service is typically taken care of by XYZ Services. I would be happy to contact them or get your their information.” Great customer service is going above and beyond to help people during their time of need. Helping to relieve your families of one more task or one more phone call is just one way that you can deliver an outstanding funeral experience.

5. “That’s just the way it is.”

Many funeral professions pray for the day that families will truly value the services that they offer… yet very few take the time to educate their families on the whys and hows of the funeral process when given the opportunity. Next time your families ask questions about why caskets are expensive, or why they should have a viewing, or why they should hire someone to oversee the funeral service, don’t just give them an answer to satisfy them… educate them. Better yet, turn your website into an invaluable funeral resource that educates your community on the value of your services, so that they already know just how important a funeral service is before they even walk through your doors!

What you should say instead: “This element of the funeral process is extremely valuable. Here’s why…” When your families better understand the value and significance behind your services, they will be much more open to the different options and possibilities that you offer.

To find out how you can turn your funeral home website into a one-stop educational resource and better educate your families, click here to talk to one of our funeral success specialists today!

Do you think that there are certain words or phrases that funeral directors should never say to families? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Tom Kowalski

    I heard an unlicensed staff member tell a mom, “You have a little angel in heaven.” Don’t do that.

  2. Karley

    I’m not sure if the following would make one a “great” funeral director. However, I avoided using phrases such as “I’m sorry for your loss”. Euphemisms like these (I believe) are overstated by families friends, loved ones, and various other supporters already. It is a generic phrase (that I feel) should be avoided by the person conducting professional areangements. INSTEAD I would offer wording such as “It is unfortunate we have to meet under these circumstances, please know I will be here to help you in anyway I am able.”

  3. Charles Murphy

    I have found with dealing with folks in this profession, I feel that one of the most important things for the funeral to always have hands that are dry and ALWAYS warm. C. Murphy

  4. Thisbusinessisweird

    Always have warm hands…that’s dumb

  5. Franklin White

    I liked how you advised funeral homes to tell their clients that they can try and do something new rather than tell them no because they usually don’t do it that way. I think it would be nice for a family to have the service done however they want. Then they will remember and appreciate what the funeral service has done for them.

  6. Krystal Penrose

    Yes we totally agree! Thanks for sharing 🙂