Shh! Can you hear it? Ever so softly, a whisper of change is drifting through the hearts and minds of funeral professionals. We are on the cusp of transforming this whisper into an all out roar. My passion, goal, and personal mission is to lead funeral professionals into upending what has been accepted for ages in funeral service, and blasting through the ceiling into an exciting, new atmosphere.
For so long we have been analyzing the changing consumer, specifically their buying habits and disposition choices with vim and vigor. We have invested endlessly, dare I say even wastefully, in an attempt to try to attract the consumer with differentiated goods and services. Worst of all, we have succumbed to the dark and ominous hellscape of competing on price. To quote an adorable Disney Princess, It’s time for all of us to, “Let it go!” Say adiós to old behaviors, and bienvenidos to a fresh start! How do we start chipping away at our gloomy ceiling? Look inward. Stop looking at changing the customers’ habits, and focus on changing our own.
During this year’s ICCFA Convention in Nashville, I stayed at one of the Thompson Hotels. If you are not familiar with the hotel chain, it is a boutique, luxury hotel chain where the customer experience is the primary focus of every member of the staff. Every door was opened for me, and I was genuinely greeted by every employee I encountered. It was an experience I shared with my friends on social media, everyone I met at the convention, and I left a lengthy review on their Google+ page. I commented to my waitress as I was dining in the lovely hotel restaurant about the exemplary experience I had been having and she said, “Well, we are trained to be aggressively hospitable.” Chills, goose bumps, whatever you call them, rose to the surface of my skin. A light bulb moment ensued; aggressive hospitality needs to be our mantra in the funeral profession.
Families are coming to us on quite possibly their worst day. We should anticipate their needs and deliver their unspoken and unknown desires. We should surprise them with unique touches, shifting their focus away from darkness and grief to color and light. Pamper your families, treat them to an aggressively hospitable experience throughout the entire process. They will immediately relax, put down their guards, and begin to trust you. They will allow you to guide them to make the best choices for their loved one’s service. As authors Pine and Gilmore state in their best-selling business book The Experience Economy, “When a company provides such customer-unique value, it takes an invaluable first step toward creating memorable interactions that stand apart from the routine transactions mass producers foist on their customers.”
We, funeral professionals, ignite the lanterns that guide the grieving down a healing path. It is the experiences we create that lead to the transformation the family desperately needs to help them heal. If we do that, we have created an everlasting bond with that family that is monumentally greater than referral business opportunities. We have truly transformed their funeral experience, and created a relationship based on loyalty and trust for life. Greatest of all, we helped them heal.
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