Following up with families after the service is over is crucial to a funeral home in two ways. The first is fulfilling the service promise you make in your marketing and the second is customer retention, which is what most forget.
The promise of serving a family in their “time of need,” as it relates to action on the funeral home part, usually ends when the service is over. Funeral directors are busy and, despite good intentions, do not follow up which can quickly leave the expectation of extended service short in the family’s eyes.
Nearly all funeral home marketing is about getting new families and very little about customer retention yet, the cost of retaining a current family is far less than finding a new one. Retaining customers is as simple as keeping a relationship alive. It isn’t complicated and doesn’t take anything special. It just takes a commitment. There are mutual benefits by reaching out after the service is over. The following five reasons are good reminders why every funeral home should make the extra effort.
You reinforce their decision to choose your funeral home
Selecting a funeral home that you’ve not had any experience with before is not easy, and there are a lot of things to consider. People are naturally skeptical of companies they’ve never done business with, particularly without an explicit recommendation from someone. Any new family you serve may not have been 100% sold, but, the fact is, they did choose you, and now you have a competition-free way to show them excellent service. Following up with the family can make them feel good about the choice they made.
You make them feel special
When you reach out to people, something magical happens. They feel good about themselves and in turn, feel good about you. Customers have expectations of anyone they do business with, and the goal should be to exceed them and, in doing so, build a loyal customer. If your families do not expect to hear from you and then get a call, a card, or a visit, it is impressive, and they remember. People will talk about an amazing customer experience years later. Indifferent customers can lead to the eventual death of a business, so you want and need people to feel special and tell others about you.
You get valuable feedback
Let’s start by stating that a testimonial is not feedback, it is merely a compliment and often a way of saying thank you. The feedback that you can get using a survey, or better yet, a face to face conversation with a family you’ve served can be so much more valuable than a testimonial. If possible, the most valuable information you could get would be 1.) What went well with the service we provided 2.) What did not go as well and 3.) What could we have done better? When you reach out to families and show you care, you build trust and, as such, you can ask for candid feedback about your services. Genuinely talking with your families can give you great insights and pinpoint areas of opportunity or new ways of serving families.
You set yourself apart from the competition
In a non-differentiated business, as funeral homes can easily be mistaken for when all websites look alike and say the same thing, a family’s expectation of one firm is usually the same as another firm. To be viewed as different, a funeral home must market themselves in a way that resonates with the family. In the context of follow up, we must consider that as a differentiator. By making follow up a priority and putting together a plan of action, you will quickly start to see the effect of that in higher customer satisfaction and more word of mouth referrals. There is just no better tool.
You set yourself up to serve them next time
Alas, the goal. When you write marketing copy, the purpose of the first sentence is to get someone to read the second and so on. In business, we work tirelessly and spend a lot of money to acquire a customer (family), and the mandate must be that their expectations are exceeded so much, that the next time they have a need, there is no question who they will call. The old saying that “Money is only a factor in the absence of value” holds true every time. Follow up with a family, and you will earn the next call.
The Bottom Line
If you are going to spend money on marketing to acquire new customers, you must be willing to do what it takes to follow up with families after the service is over. In this market where everyone is fighting for attention, personal relationships rise above the noise. Invest in building relationships and work to create a culture of service-after-the-sale, and you will reap the benefits. FBA
Ellery Bowker is the Founder and CEO of Aftercare.com. Aftercare.com helps funeral homes and cemeteries build loyalty with an automated follow up program. Ellery can be reached by phone at (800) 721-7097 or by email at [email protected]