Live From NFDA 2014: Getting To The Heart Of Customer Satisfaction

This week, the FuneralOne team is down in Nashville, Tennessee for the annual National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) conference. While many of the leading funeral professionals from around the world will be gathering this week to share the latest and greatest industry happenings, we understand that not everyone could make it to this year’s convention. Luckily for you, we’re live-blogging our favorite sessions at NFDA 2014!

When it comes to funeral service, no matter what your job title may be or what service it is that you are providing, we all have the same goal in mind – to satisfy your families and provide them with the best service possible. However, getting to the true heart of customer satisfaction (and turning a family into a repeat customer) is a little more difficult than it seems. Luckily, we were able to sit in on Ron Rosenberg’s NFDA 2014 session on enhancing customer service experience this morning, and his advice may totally change the way you approach customer service – literally.


First, it’s important to realize that the key to providing outstanding service to your families every single day is to get them to establish an emotional attachment with your customer service. Get them to become so excited and attached to your brand that they become that “frequent flyer” customer that comes to you whenever they have a need.

After all, the value of a lifetime customer value is extremely important for your business. Why? Think of it this way – when you have a positive experience in the service industry, you will tell maybe two or three people about it. However, when a person has a negative customer experience, on average they will tell 10 other people about it. Even people they don’t know very well! Plus, you can bet that for every single customer service complaint you get, there are around 24 other people who had similar negative experiences and just didn’t say anything. Therefore, you have to treat every person that comes in your funeral home as if your job and your business depends on them, because it kind of does.

So in what ways can you work to increase positive customer service experiences at your funeral home? Here are a few tips from Ron:

1. Understand your families are in an increased emotional state.

In this profession more than any other, anyone you are going to be helping is going to be in a heightened emotional state. The way you treat them (and even the way in which your answering service treats them, as this is an extension of you) will create a physiological and psychological experience that they associate with you, your funeral home and your profession as a whole. This is because, when people are in a heightened emotional state, their bodies make a physiological impression of how they are feeling and link it – unconsciously – with whatever it is that made them feel this way. They will remember if they have a negative experience with you.

2. Build rapport with your families.

Building rapport is important in any service industry because not only do people do business with businesses that they like, but people also do business with people who are like them. Therefore, it’s important that you are relating yourself to your families. A great way to do this is by relating common experiences in life (grew up in the same neighborhood, similar hobbies, common travel destinations, etc.).

You can also do a couple “matching, pacing and leading” techniques where you mirror the way a person acts in order to make them feel more comfortable around you. For instance, if they are speaking quickly and at a loud volume, you should do the same. Also be sure to talk with the same rhythm, mirror their body language, breathe at the same pace, and many other copy-cat techniques. As mentioned earlier, people respond positively to people who are like them, and they will fall into a comfort zone when you match them in rhythm and posture.

3. Learn how your families best process information.

Not everyone processes information the same way. Some people are visual, some more auditory, and some kinesthetic. When communicating and sharing information with your families, understand their preference and then frame the information in their ideal way so that you are both communicating in the right language. For example, visual people may commonly respond to information with the phrases “I see what you mean” or “That’s becoming clearer.” Auditory people may say things such as, “That rings a bell” or “Tell me how to get there.” Kinesthetic learners may respond with action statements, such as “That feels right” or “let me give this a try.” Understanding how your families’ best communicate will help you to interact with them on the best level possible.

What do you think of these customer service tips? Do you plan on trying any out the next time a family enters your funeral home? Be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Also stay tuned for more live blogs from NFDA 2014!

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  1. Pip Vice

    like these. Agree that “first impressions” count. I didn’t really gauge the “I see” is someone more visual, or “that rings a bell”, etc. Nice!
    I think listening is, key, too (though of course it’s implied in the above points).
    My only one would be, if, for example someone were ringing up upset / incoherent, I’d beg to differ (and I’m sure you would too) of mimicking/echoing them (imagine that scenario?!) so I would be calm, let them know I was there for them, and be patient. But yes, if someone rings upbeat and I sound like I’m low-key and overly chilled/mellow they’re gonna feel frustrated!
    Will try the mimicking/physical imitating (consciously) and see what happens (and if I were a Marx Brother or Charlie Chaplin I can imagine the results!!).
    Thanks for these.

  2. Noah Miwa

    I can definitely agree with these tips for customer service. I might add another which would be utilize technology to elevate the conversation with families. As generations grow older, more people are comfortable with new ways of expressing themselves and their legacy. I would advise that we should try to know our audience and meet them where they are—personally and technologically.