Have You Taken a Walk In Your Client Families’ Shoes Lately?

When’s the last time you took a walk in your client families’ shoes?

This might sound like a silly question for some people.

But taking on the perspective of your client families’ is one of the most important things you can do for your business… especially in a world where tradition and “the old way of doing things” is no longer the status quo.

When I recently stepped  into the shoes of a client family and had to plan a funeral for a family member, I was struck with so many insights by my experience.

Being present on both sides of the “playing field” has allowed me to see the amount of misunderstandings, assumptions, and miscommunications that happen regularly between families and funeral professionals.

I see five main areas where these miscommunications and misunderstandings take place very commonly between client families and funeral directors. And since I’ve been on both sides of the table, I have a grasp of what each side is thinking, and want to share it with you below.

Why? Because by bridging the gap between funeral directors and client families, we can bring more awareness to the value of what we do as a profession. And that my friends, is the golden ticket to a successful profession.


Problem #1: Not asking the right questions (or any questions at all)

What client families are thinking:
“Well, this is awkward. I don’t even know what questions to ask…”

 What funeral directors are thinking:
“They’re not asking, so I might as well assume they just want the basics…”

Chances are, your families haven’t planned many funerals before, so it’s likely that many may have little to no prior knowledge on how funerals work. Many of them will feel awkward when they walk in your doors, visit your website, or call you up. They won’t know what questions to ask, except for the basics like : “How much for XYZ?” or “Where are you located?”

During my experience planning a loved one’s funeral, I had no idea what to ask, and the funeral director didn’t help much. The experience was super flat, and uninspiring, which is why my family simply chose a direct cremation with no urn.

But the truth is, according to our research,  62 percent of families prefer to have some kind of personalization at their funeral. That means opening up the conversation is up to you. Come prepared to every meeting with a family with a list of questions that aren’t rehearsed, but can be flexible to find out each client families’ needs depending on their unique situation.


Problem #2: Your families haven’t heard great things about funeral directors

What client families are thinking:
“Are you here to help me, or do you just want my money?”

What funeral directors are thinking:
“I’m not sure what to say to this family to earn their trust… it feels like they think I just want their money.”

“Instead of helping our family, we felt they were just trying to suck money out of us.” This is a situation that happens all too often. The truth is, the majority of funeral directors have good intentions, and truly want to serve the families they work with. But how do we gain our families’ trust?

Believe it or not, it is super simple to build trust with families. The secret? Being REAL and talking to them like they’re your friend (because hopefully by the end of your time together, they are). It’s not about statistics, or about prices. It’s all about the conversations you’re having with your families that will build this trust. Your language is your greatest tool box.

Everything from your greeting, to your tone of voice, to the questions you ask them, sends a message. Are you inviting and friendly, or cold and robotic? Once you have the language down, and the trust built, everything else will fall into place a little easier.


Problem #3:  Families don’t realize the value of your offerings

What client families are thinking:
“The funeral service is already SO expensive already… why should I spend any more money?”

What funeral directors are thinking:
“Is it distasteful if I tell this family about our personalization packages?”

51.9% of people see funerals as “an important tradition in life.”

As a funeral pro working in the profession for a long time, it might be easy to start assuming that your families just want to get in, get out, and get on with it when they call or visit your funeral home. This mindset might cause you to make some costly mistakes, like rushing through a funeral arrangement meeting when maybe your client family wanted to hear more about how to make their loved one’s service special.

Don’t assume every person that walks through your doors doesn’t believe in your value. In fact, in a survey we did in 2015, we found that half of the participants (51.9%) described their feelings towards funerals as “an important tradition in life.”

Instead, present your offerings to families in a way that is focused on their perceived value. You can do this by asking your past client families what value they got out of your individual offerings, or using any testimonials and reviews you have to find out what people truly got out of your offerings.

Tip: Don’t have this information? Create a post-service survey that asks client families to rate each of the individual offerings you offered them, and invite them to share their thoughts and feelings on each.


Problem# 4: Your families don’t know what they want

What client families are thinking:
“Is that what people usually do? What is a funeral supposed to look like?”

What funeral directors are thinking:
“This is how we’ve always done it, let’s just offer what we know they’ll like.”

 When I was in the funeral planning process recently, I wasn’t sure what a proper funeral “should” look like, or what I even wanted it to look like. If the funeral director I spoke with offered up inspiring stories and ideas for us, it would have made it easier to make decisions. Because he didn’t, I ended up just stuttering “Uh… what to do other people do?”

It’s just like decorating a house without consulting with an interior designer or  checking out HGTV  or Pinterest first… without inspiration on what is possible, it’s hard to know what you really want. Come prepared to every meeting with families with few “case studies” in your back pocket of really beautiful services families have held in the past. People love a good story, and the story takes the pressure off of a decision, or a sale.


Problem# 5: Your families aren’t sure if you’re the leader (or the best)

What client families are thinking:
“Why should I choose you over the funeral home down the road? Maybe we’ll choose the cheaper one. Or, this one’s closer…”

What funeral directors are thinking:
“They’re looking at XYZ funeral home too, but we’re more _____!”

If your families have the gift of choice when it comes to planning a service for their loved one, they’re going to be comparing you to nearby businesses. It can be tough to show potential families what makes you better than other funeral homes – and there’s a reason for that. The reason being that your client families don’t want to know what makes you better. They want to know you are the best at what you do.

That means cheaper prices or faster turnaround time aren’t always the message to relay. Think about how good it feels to talk to someone who clearly communicates to you why they’re the best at what they do, and backs it up with clear evidence. This gives you a sense of clarity and confidence about their abilities.

Try this approach with your families. Get clear on what you’re uniquely the best at, and be proud of it, so that your families feel good knowing what makes you different. A good way to get clear on this is to look at your funeral home’s reviews and testimonials and see what commonalities there are between all of them. This should be the number one thing your client families see, hear or read when they visit your website, walk in your doors, or give you a call.

Tip: Let your testimonials and reviews do the talking for you on your funeral home website.


Walking a mile in your families’ shoes

We hope walking this walk helped you shift your mindset on some common misconceptions that occur between you and your client families. This walk isn’t an easy one, but it truly does close the gap between what you’re offering, and what your client families are looking for.

If you’re looking for a website platform that helps close this gap by educating your families on the value of your services, click here to talk to one of our funeral success specialists today!

What other common misconceptions and assumptions do you see with your client families? Tell us in the comments below!

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