The Funeral Industry: Consumer Preference vs. Industry Standards

Perched amongst the Hinoki Cypress trees in the Awazu Onsen area of Komatsu, Japan lies what is believed to be one of, if not the oldest, hotel in the world – the Hoshi Ryokan. This ancient establishment was founded in 718, and has been in the family for some 46 generations.

You could guess that over this period of time, a process and a culture would have been passed down from generation to generation, and this educated guess would be correct.

One of the primary principles that this hotel lives by is the idea that paying respect to history and tradition should be held in the highest regard. At the same time, the company lives by the motto of, “One time, when you need it.”

Just like the Hoshi Ryokan, funeral service has become a “one time when you need it” service. And, just like this hotel, tradition is the foundation of everything we do. But as we are not untouched by the technological innovations of today, we must begin using technology. So how can we balance these new technologies with tradition?

At their ICCFA talk “The Funeral Industry: Consumer Preference vs. Industry Standards”, Stephanie Dunn & Walker Posey shared some of their views on how funeral homes can merge technology with tradition to create the most important driving force of funeral service: trust.

Check out a summary of what they had to say below:

Finding balance with tradition and technology

The old standards, along with the changing landscape, are quickly challenging the balance between history and what our clients expect. As funeral professionals, it is our responsibility to keep our level of service as high as it’s traditionally been, while challenging ourselves to come up with innovative solutions that exceed the expectations of our modern families.

Traditionally,  the religious atmosphere has been directly associated with formal funerals that follow strict rules. Today, religion has taken a more casual, conversational approach.

In the past, faxes and emails were the standard for communication between funeral homes and families living through loss. Now, signable mobile forms have jumped in to take the reins. In the old school, different systems from different vendors wouldn’t dare talk, whereas nowadays, total integration of systems is a service that client families expect to have access to.

Technology as a driver of trust

The funeral industry is primarily built on trust and relationships. In this way, it is not unlike a relationship between a bank and its customers. Our role as funeral directors and funeral home owners is to cultivate our relationships with the community and develop our roles as leaders.

And when the time comes, we can allow families to properly say their goodbyes to the ones they love, in a way that is lasting and meaningful. Exceeding expectations is the best way for this trust to be established, and technology is the first point of contact for that to happen.

The future and what it holds for the funeral industry

In a world where the most powerful resource has become data, customers aren’t getting their first introduction to you in person. Rather, they are researching you online, forming ideas about the reputation of your business through reviews, through social channels, and from the online properties that represent your company.

If these separate pieces all combine to form the first few legs of trust in a relationship between funeral homes, funeral directors, and our clients, then it must be in our best interest to act with these goals in mind – because the future is now.

How does your funeral home embrace technology to create trust? Share with us in the comments below!

Ps. Click here to find out how your funeral home can build trust with your funeral home website!

To get in touch with Walker Posey, tweet him or visit his website. And to learn more about Stephanie Dunn, check her out on LinkedIn.

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  1. The Funeral Industry: Consumer Preference vs. Industry Standards – American Funeral Association

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  2. John Paul Schilling

    Rochelle, read a blog recently of yours, and it had a link to a social media video marketing app with animation. I cant remember the name of the software or website. Would you be able to sent me that link.
    John Paul Schilling