Live from NFDA: How To Connect Families To The Value of Your Funeral Services

This week the funeralOne team is down in Philadelphia for one of our favorite events of the year — the National Funeral Directors Convention. But this trade show is much different than anything you’ve seen from funeralOne before… we’re bringing the future of funerals to #NFDA2016 through virtual reality experiences, top-secret sneak peeks into what we’ve got lined up for 2017, and a giveaway that’s so mind-blowingly exciting that you’ll just have to come check it out it for yourself. (Booth #4205!)

But if you weren’t able to make it down to Philly for NFDA 2016, have no fear. We’re bringing our favorite moments of the conference right to you, through live blog, tweets and photos. Enjoy!

funeral services

Here’s an eye-opening statistic for you… 10% of your business changes every single day, whether you want it to or not.

Technology is constantly evolving. Consumers expectations are growing. And if funeral professionals want to keep up, they need to be in a constant state of reinvention in order to simply meet customer’s expectations… if you want to blow them away, you need to learn how to master the art of lifestyle marketing.

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender have done just that… as consumer anthropologists, they go door-to-door to funeral homes all across the country, dissecting what it takes to deliver an outstanding customer experience, connect with families before they even walk through your doors, and how funeral directors can exceed the constantly-growing expectations of today’s changing families.

And what have the learned along the way? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to pleasing customers. At their Tuesday morning NFDA session, The Science of Shopping: How To Help Your Product Sell Itself, they broke it down… Today’s customer says, “I want it my way.” And while funeral professionals claim that they want to meet their families expectations, they don’t actually know what these expectations are.

The New Role Of Today’s Funeral Professionals

“The new consumer is a whole new generation of people who want things done their way,” Bender said. When it comes to planning a funeral service, they do their own research online about the different types of service options that exist, they compare the different funeral homes in their town, and they reject the idea of a “set package” service. If they walk into your funeral home and hear, “well, we’ve always done it that way,” they will immediately shut down their interest.

“The way you’ve always done things doesn’t count anymore,” Bender said. “Your history is not their future.”

So what are these consumers looking for from funeral professionals? Information, inspiration and ideas. “Customers don’t know what they don’t know,” Kizer said. “They are looking to you to show them what others are doing, and what they can do to successfully celebrate the lives of their loved ones.”

How To Connect Families To The Value of Your Services

While today’s families may take to the internet to do research about their service options, that doesn’t mean that they are finding the answers to all of their questions, or finding the services that will be most valuable to them. “Families are looking back at their funeral and saying, ‘I thought that I would be able to do this…’ but they’re not asking about it,” Kizer said. So it’s up to funeral directors to fill these gaps and educate their families. You can do this in two ways…

1. Use your website to sell the value of your services

Many funeral professionals look at millennials as a generation that they have to worry about connecting with in the next 10 or 15 years… “It’s not something we have to plan for just yet.” But here’s the truth… the oldest millennials are already 35-years-old, buying homes, having kids, and planning funerals. This ginormous generation is already here — and they have over 200 billion dollars in annual spending power.

So if your funeral home is not actively trying to connect with these consumers in the places where they are making their buying decisions — blogs, websites, social media, review websites, etc. — you are missing out on your biggest, most impactful consumer group.

“Millennials demand a 24/7 interactive online experience. WWW to them means ‘whatever, whenever, wherever.’ You need to be on the same channels as they are,” Bender said. “So if it’s 3 am and these consumers want answers to their questions… do you have an FAQ page on your website? When I get to your website, is it interactive? Can I look at pre-planning resources? Can I order flowers?”

Today’s families expect to have a complete, one-stop online experience when they come to your funeral home website. If they land on your funeral home page and don’t immediately find value in your content, they’ll click off in ten seconds or less.

So it’s more important than ever that your funeral home has an education-driven, easy-to-navigate website that sells the value of your services and meets the needs to today’s changing families.

To learn more about how you can turn your funeral home website into a resource that drives business success and connect your families to the educational resources they’re looking for, click here to talk to one of our funeral success specialists.

2. Turn your selection room into an interactive educational experience

Your website is not the only opportunity that your funeral home has to educate your families on the value of your products and services. That’s what your selection room was created for… but very few funeral homes actually use it for this resource. Instead, they point families at the options that are available to them, walk them through the different price points, and have them take their pick. But this is not the customer experience that families are used to.

“Families compare your displays to those they see in retail stores,” Kizer said. “They are not used to urns. Urns make them uncomfortable, and they’re in an uncomfortable space already.”

So how do you bring the familiar, comfortable shopping experiences of retail into your funeral home? Start by making your funeral home as welcoming as possible. Get chars that are built to comfort older customers. Make sure that all of our products are at or near eye level, so that older customers don’t have to bend down to read signs or pick something up off the ground.

Next, open up your mind to all of the innovative, personalized ways that you could create an educational and personal shopping experience for your families inside your selection room. “What if when a customer picked up an urn or walked in front of a casket, a video started playing behind the product that told you all about the features and benefits of that product?” Kizer asked. You could even display 360 photos of your products on interactive iPads or TVs throughout your selection room.

“The challenge is not how to get new innovative thoughts in your head. It’s how to get rid of the old ones,” Bender said.

How does your funeral home connect the families in your community to the value of your products and services? Are you embracing lifestyle marketing methods on your funeral home website or in your selection room? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

If you would like more great information on how you can deliver an outstanding customer experience both in your funeral home and in your selection room, check out Kizer and Bender’s Retail Adventures blog.

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