It is hard to do anything these days without technology playing a part in some way. When it is time to take a trip, whether it be a day trip to somewhere new or a cross country vacation, electronic devices are the first thing we grab so we can use the maps and navigation apps. Instead of opening up the road atlas or folded paper maps, we can almost instantaneously have turn by turn directions spoken to us from our device of choice. When needing to find the phone number for the plumber or florist across town, it is very rare that we reach for a phone book anymore. We find it much more convenient to do a quick internet search or possibly pull up that company’s Facebook account from our handheld device. When requesting information, we no longer wish to wait for it to arrive by post office but rather say, “If possible, could you please just email that to me?” The list can go on and on.
According to the Pew Research Center, as of January 2014 90% of American adults have a cell phone, 58% of American adults have a smartphone and 42% of American adults own a tablet. There are even studies now that are looking at how much we are addicted to our phones and electronic devices claiming that 67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls – even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. Likewise, 44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night. (www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/)
Technology is all around us. Statistics continue to prove that people in all age groups, ethnicities and income levels are using technology and incorporating it into their everyday life. Expectations are changing in regards to how we interact with one another. Consumers are adjusting their shopping process and expectations as well. At least 50% of consumers will use 2 or more devices in their purchase process, which also reiterates the importance of having a mobile-friendly online presence. (IBM)
The innovative, technology based options available to funeral directors seem to multiply every single day. If you are running a successful business, consumers are now expecting you to be at least somewhat tech savvy.
From digital guest books to web cast memorial services, customized video tributes, online obituaries and personalized memorial web pages, the opportunities to brand yourself as a cutting edge funeral home are endless. And that certainly doesn’t have to stop with your merchandise displays. Product information can be delivered in much the same way whether you are discussing vaults, caskets, cremation keepsakes or monuments.
Presenting your products with detailed information in a digital format can be easily achieved. By simply mounting an HDTV or large format display monitor to the wall in the arrangement room, you now have a high definition presentation screen that the entire family can see at once without worrying about excluding someone from the decision making process. With the correct technology in place, you are able to display the screen of your device directly on the TV as you walk the family through each of the different choices they need to make. This process is called mirroring. There are several options available that enable you to connect, or mirror, the screen from your iPad®, tablet, smartphone or computer to your TV. Many of the newest flat screen TV models have mirroring capabilities built directly into the TV. If not, then a quick internet search or help from your local tech store will be able to direct you to the appropriate way to achieve this goal using your brand of device.
Mirroring allows you, the funeral director, to be sitting with the family while controlling the presentation from where you sit. This might include accessing a supplier’s interactive app, viewing informational videos, scrolling through high resolution images or pulling up a company website. It depends on what your current suppliers can provide in regards to images and applications but in most cases all of this can be accessed from a single device. Being able to utilize each of these different sources of information can help you to educate your families and help them to feel confident in their decisions.
Every person handles the death of a loved one differently. Not everyone has the same tolerance for seeing death related products. There has always been a certain level of anxiety experienced by the family when entering the selection room filled with several full size caskets, a multitude of urns as well as miniature vault samples. As funeral professionals we get accustomed to being exposed to these products daily and tend to forget some of the emotions and additional stress this can put on the family members. By having an alternative way of presenting your products to those individuals, you can alleviate some of that anxiety.
So for example purposes, let’s assume that your funeral home decides to use an Apple iPad®. You have the option to download any available supplier interactive apps from the app store, load digital catalogs and images provided by your suppliers, bookmark frequently accessed websites and save common forms used. You get the iPad® all setup in a way that fits your needs. You then install a large flat screen television to the wall where it can be easily viewed by the families you are working with. Because you have chosen to work with an iPad®, you will use what is called an Apple TV® to allow your iPad® to mirror its screen on the television. (For those of you not familiar with an Apple TV®, it is a small streaming device that allows your iPad® to communicate with your television. The Apple TV® is not an actual TV. Other streaming devices are available if you do not choose to use an iPad®.) The Apple TV® is a very small box that simply connects to the television with an HDMI cable. Once the iPad® and Apple TV® are both on the same network, either WIFI or designated router, you are ready to start using your new product presentation system.
A family walks in for the first time and you have them take a seat around the table in your arrangement room. You begin to explain to them some of the decisions they are going to have to make. You direct their attention to the TV screen that you have just installed. With ease you are able to navigate between web pages, pdf forms, informational videos and apps. It is now time for the family to pick out a vault. You start by having them view a brief video which clarifies what a burial vault is since most consumers are not familiar with the purpose of a vault. You then walk them through informational graphics to help the family understand the difference between each vault option. The family picks out a vault and chooses to add personalization. However, there is a family member that wasn’t able to attend the meeting but they would still like to help make the necessary decisions. You are able to quickly email that family member a picture of the vault selection, casket selection and other pertinent decisions. While you are finishing up some of the other details, that family member emails back with their consent and you are able to finalize the plans.
Technology not only can help you become more efficient, it can enable you to provide products and services in a manner that will impress your families. Embracing this trend will not only help you provide the best services for your families, it will also help you maximize your revenues and profits. FBA
Molly Richardson is the Marketing Administrator for Doric Products, Inc. Doric has been a leader in the burial vault industry since 1955. Molly has been with the company for the past four years and brings a unique outside perspective to the company. Molly can be reached at 800.55.DORIC, or by email at [email protected], or visit their website at www.doric-vaults.com.