7 Fail-Proof Ways to Turn One-Time Families Into Lifetime Customers


The funeral profession is a lot like other businesses when it comes to customer service… you want to focus on helping families get the experience they want out of your services, and you ultimately want to make their lives easier. But, unlike other customer-focused professions, funeral directors have an opportunity much bigger than the potential to build lifetime relationships with customers. If they deliver a positive funeral experience, they actually have the chance to turn lifetime customers into an entire generation of devoted funeral families.

This is why it’s so important for funeral homes to try their best to deliver the service families expect to ensure they serve many generations to come.

But unfortunately, retaining families isn’t easy. The Harvard Business Review reports businesses lose 50% of their customers in the first five years. And the cost of those losses can be significant because the expense of acquiring new business is six to seven times more than retaining it.

One of the best ways to find out how to keep current families coming back to your funeral home is to understand why some of the past ones left. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 68% of consumers stop using a business because they were upset with the treatment they received. To help avoid this dissatisfaction, consider implementing some of these fail-proof ways to turn one-time families into generation-long customers.

1. Start With Support

People come to you grief-stricken due to the loss of their loved one. While they know that you want to help them, you are not exactly the person they want to be speaking to at that time, either.

Make the experience a good one by supporting each family member as much as possible. Have tissues available, take the time to listen to the stories and review information slowly. The time you invest now will come back to you when they feel as though you truly took care of them and their loved one.

2. Offer Continued Support

Support should not end when families leave your office. Hold weekly grief support workshops, have a list of support groups in the community and have books ready to recommend. You are providing a funeral service, but wrapped up in there, you can provide the help they so desperately need at this sensitive time.

3. Rectify Dissatisfaction Immediately

Dissatisfied consumers are more likely to be loyal to a business and become advocates when their issues are resolved quickly and easily. So ensure you have a strategy in place for dealing with problems.

As soon as someone complains, find out what you can do to make it better. It should not include families having to go out of their way to do anything. It’s important that the process is easy for them — especially since they may be dealing with the anger stage of mourning, which can cause them to react quickly over slight issues.

4. Provide Suggestions

Families want the funeral planning process to be easy and quick. Instead of showing them many different options, choose just a couple to present that truly represent their needs. If they do not seem impressed, you can then show a couple more. Smaller doses will ensure people do not feel more overwhelmed than they already are with the process.

5. Support Your Staff

Your staff interacts with families every day, and they undergo a lot of distress because of it. Your employees have to see people crying and talking about their loved ones they miss so much.

To ensure your staff members continue to provide the best in customer service, it is important to coach them. Listen to them when they need some time to talk about what they just experienced and allow them to take breaks when needed. When they have to take some time away, don’t refute it. The better you treat your staff, the better they will treat your families.

6. Go Above and Beyond

Everyone can learn a little something from the grocery store Trader Joe’s. During one horrible snowstorm, a daughter called many different grocery stores requesting food delivery service to her father who was 89 years old. Everyone told her no… except for Trader Joe’s. They didn’t even have a delivery service, but they delivered everything on the list, plus some extra items, within just a few minutes.

It’s these moments of going above and beyond that will turn families into lifetime customers. Don’t simply say no to people’s requests when you don’t normally offer something. See if there is a way you can do it. Making families happy and relieved by giving them the unexpected will leave a lasting impression.

7. Never Forget Past Families

If you want to keep families returning to your funeral home, customer service shouldn’t end at the service. It’s important to provide people with resources and ongoing support that they can use no matter what stage of the grief process they are in.

One way you can do this is with a website that offers the helpful information and education that your families need – even if they don’t know that they need it yet. People enjoy reading, watching videos and reviewing images that have tips and advice on what to do as they get closer to the funeral preparations. This helps them know what they want when the time comes, which makes the process much easier for them.

funeralOne can help you offer all of this to your families. Click here to contact us today for more information on how we can help you show families you will go the extra mile to make the funeral planning process as smooth as possible for them — and for every generation after.

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  1. Bill Harder

    An excellent article as it touches upon a number of often overlooked aspects of death-care. Many funeral homes do not offer followup service such as a visit, or even a phone call to see how the family is coping with both legal and emotional issues. As well, funeral staff suffer significantly from compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma – very few businesses have a policy in place to protect and nourish staff from these occupational hazards.

  2. Rilee Chastain

    Great insights, Bill! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Graham Burton

    Looking after ones family’s as if you were looking after one of your own member of family can only help to give support and understanding of ones bereavement loss .An excellent article not to unoticed by fellow Funeral Directors ,the word compassion comes to mind .

  4. Rilee Chastain

    Graham, thanks for the comment! We couldn’t agree more. Putting yourself in your families shoes can only lead to a better and more healing experience for all. Thanks 🙂