How does an organization grow market share in a tough, competitive market? How do you stand out in a market crowded with worthy competitors? Further, how can you achieve sustainable growth in a business segment as traditional as funeral service? Answers sometimes look complicated. They are often explained with sophisticated pricing models and are augmented by slick marketing, as well as new or alternative offerings.
It’s true that merchandise and service offerings continue to evolve, and it is best to keep current with the wants and needs of families in your market. In addition, differentiation based on pricing is a dangerous game now that shoppers are empowered to find detailed, published price lists and frequently use social platforms to share opinions. Advertising for personal services (especially funeral services) also can prove ineffective since many shoppers are skilled at ignoring marketing messages.
Based on accomplished industry practitioners I have witnessed, you can find answers through a modern concept called customer centricity. It’s easy to say that “the customer comes first,” but the practice is an art, and not everyone is an artist.
Customer centricity is best summarized as a deliberate and holistic “focus on the families you serve.” Artists of this concept sell and trade…however not just in products and services, but in relationships, too. For them, the focus is on serving current families instead of simply chasing future prospects.
For it to be an effective strategy, customer centricity requires a 360-degree perspective. Not all customers are created equal, and part of the process of becoming customer-centric should include spending time defining your target customer. To better understand and more authentically implement this approach, employ a combination of thoughtful observation and well-rounded experience.
Getting to know the family better in the arrangement conference is critical. Watch and listen with intensity to what they want, and deliver an “extra-touch experience.” Gain insight and empathize with families in order to exceed expectations, not just fulfill requests. And, as such things go, the higher the value of the service is perceived by the family, the more loyalty your firm will earn with them and with whom they share the experiences.
After you have spent time defining your target customer and listening to their wants and needs, finding differentiators for your business becomes easier. As previously mentioned, price differentiation is a difficult strategy to execute in the funeral industry. However, by approaching it through a customer-centric lens, price comparisons become increasingly irrelevant as you add to the value of your services for your target. Hone your practice and find a signature service to provide above and beyond your competitors. This could be one or a combination of unique features in your funeral home, such as catering areas or children’s rooms; equipment, such as superior audio/visual or unique livery inventory; or services, such as aftercare, house sitting, or memorialization. The talented artists I have witnessed are able to leverage conveniences for families as a differentiator for value above and beyond what is on the GPL.
It’s important to note that you cannot be all things to all people. Find your niche and be all things to your people. You are the most in touch with the families that you serve. By actively listening and observing your target families, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of what they value most, what they ask for and what they need. These are the values real artists try to find and master. A customer-centric strategy can become an obsession, and it nearly must if you want to hit the mark.
Once you find that extraordinary service offering to stand out from the competition, aim it squarely at the target. And keep in mind that providing an extra service shouldn’t be looked at as an expense. Rather, you should look at it as an investment in the future of your business. Focusing on the family in front of you is at the heart of customer centricity. Heed the tenets of this principal to help ensure that new and loyal families will turn to you for years to come. FBA
Scott Mindrum is the founder, president and CEO of CRäKN, the all-in-one digital solution, helping funeral businesses elegantly and efficiently serve their families. For more than 18 years, Scott has been a trusted leader in the death-care industry, building value through customer-centric problem solving. Previously, he was the founder, president and CEO of MeM (Making Everlasting Memories), a cloud-based publishing company dedicated to capturing and preserving life memories. Scott has over a dozen issued and pending patents, is a CPA, earned his M.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and is a Member of the Queen City Angels. He can be reached at 844-382-7256 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]