36 Questions To Quickly Identify Your Families’ Needs


Today’s families are different.

They’re complex, mobile and spend more time online than ever before. Oh, and did we mention that most of them don’t even want what you’ve traditionally offered them when it comes to funeral services?

It’s true. So now that your families have changed, how can you change to effectively attract and serve them? It all starts with asking the right questions.

Below we’ve compiled a list of 36 questions to help you identify your families’ needs. Use these questions to discover how you can offer families a level of service that’s beyond anything they’ve ever experienced.

Before meeting with the family

Before you meet face-to-face with the family, here are a few questions that you’ll need to ask them (ideally via phone or email). These questions will help you determine exactly what information you’ll be gathering during the arrangement process. Remember, no two families are the same, so it’s important that you tailor your arrangement process to their needs.

1. How did the loved one pass away?

2. Which family member(s) will be there to help make the arrangements?

3. Which family member(s) are ultimately “in charge” or responsible for planning the arrangements?

4. What type of disposition are they interested in?

5. Are they open to a personalized service?

6. Are there any specific religious considerations?

Step 1: Break the ice

Choosing a funeral home can be a difficult task. Families want to know that they can trust you on many levels, and you want them to know that they can trust you and feel comfortable with you. The best way to establish rapport with families? Get them talking. Here are some questions you can ask to get to know the family.

7. How are you feeling today?

8. Can I offer you a water or a coffee?

9. Start some brief chit-chat, try to find something in common with family members and ask them about it. (For example, if they’re wearing a sports teams’ shirt, ask them about the team.)

Step 2: Who

Once you’ve built rapport with the family and made them feel comfortable, it’s time to get to know their loved one. Use these questions to find out what makes the loved one unique so you can create a meaningful funeral service for them.

10. Tell me about your [insert loved one’s name/relationship].

11. What did you love about him/her?

12. Tell me about your favorite memory with him/her.

13. What was he/she passionate about? What did he/she do for fun?

14. What made him/her unique?

15. Has he/she put any specific wishes in writing?

Step 3: What

Now that you know some key information about the loved one, it’s time to help the family decide what type of service would be most valuable for them. Here are some questions you can ask to find out.

16. Have you thought about how you would like to celebrate [insert name of loved one]?

17. Tell me a little about how you envision your loved one’s funeral service.

18. What are 3 must-have elements for your loved one’s service?

19. What are 3 things you don’t want at your loved one’s service?

20. How many guests do you think will attend the loved one’s funeral?

21. Details, details details. Ask them about the food, music, photos, eulogy, etc. (Use this checklist to help you ask the right questions about the service.)

Step 4: Where

This question is important because all of the moving parts of their loved one’s service will change depending on the location. Even if they’ve opted for a cremation, be sure to cover all the options for where they can celebrate their loved one so you open their minds to all the possibilities.

22. Where will the service be taking place? What about the viewing?

23. Where would you like your loved one’s final resting place to be?

24. Where are funeral guests traveling from?

Step 5: When

When it comes to traditional funeral services, there isn’t a lot of leeway as to when the service and viewing will take place, but it’s very important to figure this out so that family and friends can be in the know as soon as possible.

25. If there is a viewing, will it take place over one day or several days?

26. When would you like the service to be? Morning? Afternoon?

27. Will the viewing and service take place over one day or several days?

Step 6: How

Once you’ve worked with the family to decide what type of service there will be, where it will take place, and how many people will attend, it’s time to figure out how you will make it happen. This means discussing the planning, budget, communication, etc. Here are some questions you can ask to get you started.

28. Would you like to play an active part in the planning of your loved one’s service? If yes, which elements would you like to help with?

29. What are your cost considerations?

30. How do you plan on paying for the funeral?

31. How do you prefer to stay in touch throughout the planning of the service (ie. phone, email, text)?

Step 7: After the service

Following up after the funeral service is one of the most important and easiest ways to identify your families’ needs. By asking them follow-up questions, you can better understand how you met and exceeded their expectations, and how you can improve for future families. Just remember, you don’t have to ask these questions in person; you can simply follow-up through a phone conversation, an email, or even put these questions in a customer survey. Here are some ideas to get you started.

32. Overall, are you happy with the service we provided you and your loved one?

33. Can you give us an example of where we exceeded your expectations?

34. Can you give us an example of where we didn’t meet your expectations?

35. What can we improve on to better meet your needs?

36. Would you recommend our services? Why or why not?

How to use these questions

These questions are meant to be a general template to help you understand each individual family better. Feel free to print this blog out, or even take down a few questions in your notebook or planner. If you think some of the questions are irrelevant to your firm, feel free to change them to better fit your needs. At the end of the day, it’s all about offering families the best service possible, and we hope these questions will help you do just that!

If you give these questions a try, we’d love to hear how they performed in the comments below. Or better yet, share some questions you use at your funeral home that work well!

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