At-need families find your funeral home in one of three ways:
1. Family tradition
Though some families still maintain the tradition of using the same funeral home for generations, finding a funeral home online is more popular than any other search method.
Families who move into a new home in a new town have no other resource than the web for finding a funeral home. And when a researching customer uses the web to find a funeral service, they rely on funeral home reviews to make a decision.
Positive reviews are now more important than ever. In fact, 4 out of 5 people don’t shop around for a funeral home. They go with the first funeral home they call. That means that being #1 in Google is vital.
So how do you generate reviews for your funeral home?
More importantly, how do you generate POSITIVE reviews for your funeral home?
Great question. I’ll tell you, and I think it’s important for you to realize you aren’t the first person to ask this question! Let’s begin.
Why Your Aftercare Families Can’t Leave Reviews
First, it is important to understand that Google is on the consumer’s team.
It shows your funeral home in comparison to all other funeral homes in the local market and shows the satisfaction ratings of your funeral home in the form of customer reviews.
So imagine your funeral home is the highest rated funeral home in your local market, has 100 more 5-star reviews than your competition, and rakes in just 50% of the local funeral home search traffic each month — in major cities, that’s anywhere from 100 to 200 potential calls per month.
That would be great.
There’s just one problem: funeral homes are only having conversations with under 16% of their aftercare families.
And if you can only communicate with 16% of your families, you are only tapping into a fraction of the positive experiences your at-need families have had.
Studies show that funeral homes can only communicate with up to 15.75% of their aftercare families through any one of the traditional communication methods (email – 15.75% open rate, direct mail – 1% return rate, phone calls – 13% answer rate).
In other words, 84% of your aftercare families can’t leave reviews, because you aren’t communicating with them. You can do better.
What you need is a communication method that is 1) fast, 2) personal, and 3) effective.
Text messaging is the perfect answer.
Aftercare communication through text messaging has proven to revolutionize the funeral aftercare profession.
If you use aftercare text messaging the right way, you could boost the number of conversations you’re able to have with families by over 300%.
How to Get a 98% Read Rate and Boost Reviews through Funeral Aftercare
When you use text messaging to contact your families through aftercare services, the vast majority respond within a few minutes with words of both gratitude and grief.
You should ask yourself what’s the best service you can provide to these grieving families.
How will you respond if they say they aren’t able to handle the loss?
How will you respond if they ask for help?
How can you maximize the amount of 5-star reviews you generate from aftercare families?
Your text messaging service should include:
1. Live text responders: This is non-negotiable. While you should certainly have an entire team helping respond to aftercare families, you should not resort to chatbots to contact families. This is about creating relationships, not exchanging blanket messages.
2. Grief resources: 40 percent of aftercare families request grief and bereavement resources. Be ready to fulfill any need the family might request, whether it’s an additional death certificate, headstone recommendations, and grief resources. With your grief resources, make sure they are available on a mobile device! Printed materials are not enough.
3. Brand Champion Identification: Your live text responders should be trained to identify the families who’ve had the best experience with your funeral home. All of your brand champions should be selected and set aside until the time is right to request a review. This is more difficult than you might think, make sure you take the time to train the right person to handle this very important task.
4. Review Generation: Only ask for reviews from your brand champions and only ask them for reviews at the right time. How do you know what the right time is? Only ask for reviews after you’ve done everything you can to help the customer, the customer has no lingering needs, AND the customer has expressed gratitude. In other words, ask when you’ve already helped the aftercare family/individual overcome their needs.
Families are more likely to respond if they feel that the message they have received was sent out of care and respect. This is accomplished by reaching out to check-in and make sure they’re doing well. Your aftercare text messaging should include offers of help and support.
If the aftercare family requests bereavement resources, you should have a wide range of grief resources available to fit each individual’s unique situation, and again, these resources must be available on a mobile device.
Why Are Funeral Home Reviews So Difficult to Generate?
Funeral home owners are not the only ones to struggle with generating reviews, but the funeral profession does have additional roadblocks to generating reviews.
First of all, “funeral home customers” are families who’ve just lost a loved one. Asking for a review after a funeral is not only difficult, it’s incredibly awkward for the funeral home.
Requesting a customer review from aftercare families must be done at the right time and in the right way or it will be considered inappropriate.
Review generation also requires a high degree of dedication and commitment to staying organized. Not only must you have relationship-building conversations with each family, but you must also track those conversations, reviews requested, and reviews generated.
Because the review generation process includes much more than just asking for the review (it involves aftercare communication, grief support, AND THEN review generation), it is a monumental task.
Most funeral homes either don’t do review generation correctly or they give up in frustration way before the “ask for review” phase. It is worth the investment to do this the right way.
Aftercare for the Digital Age
Whether you choose to create your own text-messaging aftercare company that generates reviews, provides grief support, and allows for appointment setting or you’d rather hire a digital aftercare company, the important thing is that you do aftercare correctly.
Funeral homes should be helping families heal and move forward — it’s not only beneficial to the families, but it’s also beneficial to the funeral home.
Our aftercare families are ready and willing to leave reviews; they just need the right pathway.
And text-messaging based aftercare is the pathway that we’ve been waiting for. FBA
Jon Lefrandt is the CEO and co-founder of Domanicare, an innovative and award-winning text-messaging based aftercare program. Jon created Domanicare after experiencing crippling grief first-hand. After that experience, he decided to do something about the gap that has existed between funeral homes and aftercare families for years. To connect with Jon, call him at 385-203-0199 or email him, [email protected]