By: Paul Good
The rise of digital technology has had a profound impact on the funeral industry. Digital tech has also contributed to the ever-growing trend of personalization in funeral service, and funeral homes that employ digital technologies to meet families’ expectations will have a successful future. But if you are not digital-forward yet, don’t worry — funeral professionals can adopt a variety of technological features to give their families what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. There are several ways to apply digital tech to update existing funeral offerings, or create new and innovative services to set you apart from the rest of the competition.
Let’s Do a Walkthrough
To illustrate how digital technologies can elevate personalization options in your funeral home, let’s use memorial photos as a walk-through example. We have all heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and a photograph of a loved one often invokes special memories. Visual images convey emotions and feelings that cannot truly be described with words, which is why families often display a portrait of their dearly departed at the viewing and/or funeral/memorial service.
Any funeral director will tell you that helping a family collect and arrange pictures of their loved one is a moving experience. But sometimes it’s hard to find the perfect photo, especially in the short time-frame allotted for making funeral arrangements. This is where digital tech comes in to save the day — there are several technologies that can make this process simple and easy, and most importantly, faster than ever before.
Top 4 Digital Technology Features for Personalization
Below you will find a list of features to transform the way you market memorial photos to your families, and turn them into an in-demand personalized product for your funeral home. These features save precious time and energy, and while you may not be able to implement all these technologies at once, focusing on even just one can greatly improve your bottom line.
1. Hardware Tools
More and more people are saving photos and images on smartphones or in the “cloud” because it’s easy and convenient. And thanks to digital tech improvements, many smartphones now offer HD quality photography and built-in DIY editing tools that are intuitive and user-friendly.
Smartphones also have higher capacity storage for all those milestone pictures people take (birthdays, graduations, weddings, etc.), and advancements in technology allow for same-day printing as well as just-in-time manufacturing of personalized photo products. Photo album favorites can also be digitized by simply taking a picture of the hard-copy image or scanning it with a high-quality scanner.
Example of how it works: During the funeral arrangement conference when discussing memorial photo options, family members can easily search through their smartphone photo libraries or social media accounts for a picture of their loved one and text it to the funeral director within seconds. Or they can choose a treasured snapshot from a photo album and digitize it by taking a picture of the image. The digitized photos can then be converted into high-grade prints within the same day.
2. Instant Connections
Texts and emails are a perfect example of how fast digital technology works. These tools, combined with social media, have revolutionized how we communicate with each other. Social platforms have also enhanced how consumers discover new products, source images, and share reviews about local businesses. News and information spreads around the world faster than ever before, which in turn adjusts customer expectations for how quickly you respond to their needs and concerns.
Example of how it works: When a family member sends the funeral director a text or email containing a memorial image of their loved one, that’s high speed internet technology at work helping you connect and communicate with families on a real-time basis. The digital image can be instantly transferred to a professional memorial photo business who edits, customizes, and creates the final memorial canvas for the funeral centerpiece. All this can happen in just a few days thanks to digital technology.
3. Software Specialization
Digital photo software adds that extra-special touch to memorial portraits. Advancements in coding and programming have increased the level of personalization options with DIY photo retouching and special effects tools, design templates, and automated publishing. Digital tech software makes the image editing process faster and cost effective, eliminating time-consuming manual tasks with just a few clicks on a screen.
Example of how it works: Low resolution photos can be up-converted or scaled into high resolution, and blurry images can be enhanced to produce a final portrait that family members will cherish forever. A digital picture of your loved one can be professionally edited by an artist and converted into a premium quality image in within a few hours. The retouched digital image of the memorial photo can also be downloaded and used for prayer cards, funeral programs, etc.
4. Customer Service Upgrades
Digital tech makes it easy to provide excellent customer service in your funeral home. In the same vein, funeral providers also receive the same level of service from their vendors and partners. Digital technologies allow for push notifications via text or email, and order tracking features are available 24/7. Premium shipping and rush upgrades are available if required and payment is a breeze due to industry standardized encryption for secure credit card processing. In addition, direct access to mobile and online chat support reassures customers that any last-minute changes can be easily managed. The entire process is convenient, fast, and doesn’t require much effort from the family or the funeral director.
Example of how it works: The portrait company notifies the funeral director when the final product is ready and confirms approves the proof with just one click. Regional distribution and printing centers guarantee on-time delivery to the funeral home, and the funeral director can present the family with a beautiful, framed portrait of their loved one only a few days after they placed the order. Families can also instantly reorder one or more portraits to share with others as a memorial keepsake of their loved one.
The Bottom Line
By using technology to open up lines of communication, you can connect with your families on a deeper level because you are giving them exactly what they are asking for. This kind of top level service is what gets customers to post favorable reviews on your website and share positive testimonials with the community at large. And thanks to the power of word of mouth, your loyal families will drive more traffic to your funeral home, increasing your profits along the way.
All in all, digital technology offers a seamless online shopping experience complete with top level customer service, adding value to your memorial photo program and providing your families with a memorable keepsake they will treasure forever.
Personalization Is Here to Stay
Personalization is now the standard in the funeral service industry, and families expect to have several options when they call your funeral home. Digital technology is the best way to meet their needs while ensuring 100% satisfaction all around. The memorial photo example illustrates how digital tech can upgrade a basic funeral product and turn it into something truly personal and meaningful. The future of digital technology looks bright; it will continue to grow and expand, and funeral homes that apply technological tools to offer convenience, accessibility, and fast service will win out in the long run. FBA
Paul Good is Founder/CEO PhotoFixitPro, Inc. dba: MemorialPhotoCanvas.com. For over 30 years Paul has worked professionally in traditional & digital photography technologies and photo retail marketing. In 2006, he founded PhotoFixitPro upon discovering a daily, commercial, large volume, wholesale business opportunity for 24-hour photo restoration work, specifically in the funeral industry. This development led to the creation of a custom business model that would support an unlimited number of photo repairs daily, exceptional quality, and 24 hour delivery of service. Today, PhotoFixitPro Inc is a still photography post-production corporation based in Los Angeles, California and serves global customers on three continents. In 2019, MemorialPhotoCanvas.com was introduced to provide photo repair services direct to premium framed canvas to funeral homes around the world Good is a contributing photographer to Getty Images and member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He may be reached at 818 358-3018, or [email protected]