4 Stats that Should Change Funeral Service (But Haven’t)

It’s no secret that funeral service is slow to change.

But when we have a lot of science-backed data to show us the validity in changing, why would we ignore it? Maybe it’s because we haven’t seen the data yet. After all, funeral service also happens to be one of the least research-focused professions out there.

Thankfully, a lot of research surfaced in 2014 that can help funeral service adapt to better meet the needs of today’s families. And today, I’m here to share some of those key stats with you. These four statistics may not necessarily be specific to funeral service, but they are just as valid, and deserve attention (and action, too).

Check these four game-changing statistics below:

Stat #1: Price may not influence consumer behavior as much as you think. In fact, 68% of customers leave a company (or choose another one) due to poor customer service.

This is one of the biggest misunderstandings in funeral service. Sure, price is a huge differentiating factor when it comes to choosing a funeral home. But what’s factored into the price is the value of it. If you had a choice between a 5-star hotel with amazing customer service for $80 or a poorly maintained hostel with awful service for $40, which would you choose?

What to do about it:

We can’t understand the value families see in price if we don’t understand them. First things first – get a very deep understanding of your families. This includes studying everything from their pain points to their goals and even their frustrations. The best way to do this is through developing buyer personas – use this easy-to-follow template to create your own personas. And when you’re done, try out these 6 other tools to help you better understand your families.

Stat #2: “The probability of selling something to a prospect is only about 5-20%, while the probability of selling something to an existing customer is 60-70%.” 

Ever heard the expression, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? I like this saying because it helps us understand that it’s easier to take care of one bird than it is to go out and beat the bushes for other birds. If you offer a family an experience they couldn’t find anywhere else for their grandmother, why would they seek any other funeral home when their grandfather passes away, too? And even more – if your funeral guests see the out-of-this world level of service you offer, why wouldn’t they choose you when they’re at-need, too?

What to do about it:

Focus – BIG time – on the experience you offer your families and your funeral guests. Even if the arranging family is blinded by their grief and can’t see all the effort you put into the small details, the funeral  guests will be sure to notice. Take a note from Walt Disney and “do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” That means perfecting every step of your client family journey – from the first impression to months after the service.

Stat #3: 82% of people say it’s important to put their end-of-life wishes in writing, yet 23% have actually done it.

Isn’t it startling to know that nearly every person in the world thinks it’s important to let their end-of-life wishes be known, but no one actually knows how to do it? I hope that reading this statistic makes you want to jump out of your seat and do something about it. When the Conversation Project was founded nearly three years ago by a couple of journalists, I wondered why funeral service wasn’t taking control of the end-of-life conversation.

What to do about it:

Sure, The Talk of A Lifetime and other start-ups focused on end-of-life planning are getting us on a good start, but we need to find a universally easy way for anyone to start putting thought into their own death. Perhaps this means spreading our knowledge and getting more involved with hospices, hospitals and senior living centers. Planning for the end shouldn’t just be an initiative. Instead, we should disrupt the current situation and make pre-planning a necessary and essential part of life.

Stat #4: 90% of Americans say reading reviews influenced their buying decision.

Almost every purchase I make begins with a quick search on Google Reviews or Yelp. I can’t help it – it’s ingrained in my process. With all of the knowledge out there on companies based on real experiences, review sites are hard to ignore. Thanks to this statistic, I know I’m not the only one who does this, either. Yet, somehow, every funeral home website I visit is missing reviews or testimonials of any sort.

What to do about it:

Before you even start to focus on marketing your business, make sure you’ve got a solid online reputation. That’s how you’re going to build trust with your families (which as you know, is hard to do these days). Ask every customer who has a great experience at your funeral home to write about it – whether it’s on Yelp, or in an email to you. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful way to attract families, so don’t forget about it. Want help getting a good start on your online reputation? Check out this guide on establishing trust with families online.

Why do you think funeral service is slow to change? Tell us in the comments below!


Joe Joachim


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  1. M. Carr

    There seems to be a reluctance in adopting new customer service technologies due to the nature of the funeral industry. A perfect example is the idea of a"repeat customer" in the funeral industry, as in this case no one wishes to be a repeat customer, as customer service takes a new meaning in the funreal undustry.What may help though is better customer service experience, better on-on-one service or a feedback system of some sort.