CRM Systems and the Funeral Industry
By Dylan Nells
A Funeral Director with over 30 years of experience delivering services for families and communities was asked what he thought about computer systems in the Funeral Industry, and this is his reply.
Let me share a story.
Our special treat used to be a meal and stay over at our favorite restaurant in the Lake District. Every meal was memorable and the service laid back, calm and professional. A few years ago, we were delighted to read that the chef-owner opened a second venture in a city center location much closer to where we lived.
Our much-anticipated visit was made all the more memorable, not just because of the incredible food but also by how we were greeted. The two servers who were from the original restaurant seemed to recognize us and discussed our food preferences and wine choices in such a simple way that my wife commented on how amazing it was that they remembered us from our previous three visits to the Lakes.
Great though that feeling was, it was clear that the chef and his team were simply using data saved from our visits to deliver a fantastic, friendly, focused service. Customer Relations Management (CRM).
A CRM system could allow you to manage the client data that you hold. More than just a database, it can play an important part in creating a relationship with a client and moving beyond the transactional. Client's choices and preferences can provide insight into your community and allow you to segment by the details of the choices they have made. You can track their contact preferences, and future data management can be logged. There is also the potential to log every call and contact point.
It all seems a bit "un-funeral" like doesn't it? It shouldn't be.
It's simply a way of using technology to deliver a truly remarkable personal experience. As a client, I'm uninterested in the mechanics; I just appreciate the positive experience that it gives me.
What a brilliant way for funeral directors to use a simple system that allows them to manage the funeral process. Not everyone can remember every client detail or follow-up required. A CRM system provides the ability to source not only contact details, but also provides opportunities for the funeral director or arranger to follow up around ashes and memorials and even to be able to contact the client again, perhaps at an anniversary or significant date.
As it's possible to log all client contact, it's a way to personalize all incoming greetings;
"Hello Mrs. West, I'm afraid Annie, the funeral director, isn't in the office at the moment, but I can see that when you rang this morning, you were going to give some thought to the choice of music for the funeral. Can I help you with that?"
Inquiries can be personally and securely handled in a timely way, even when the funeral director or primary point of contact for the family is removed. I know in many small or family-run funeral businesses, all client contact remains with a single person. In slightly larger businesses, several people may contact the same client, leading to an impersonal experience for clients in many circumstances. Why not consider using the data you have in a more service-focused way?
A basic CRM system could provide:
- A secure and data compliant way of managing your contact with clients, third-party suppliers such as doctors, ministers, celebrants, etc.
- A way of managing follow-up conversations with clients, perhaps discussing masonry, memorial event organization, probate, or potential funeral plan conversations.
- A way for businesses, through funeral data, to monitor that they are regulation compliant with services being offered to, and chosen by, the client and the opportunity to spot an issue and correct it quickly.
- A way to ensure you are General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant.
- A way to ensure all colleagues concerned with the arrangement process have all the client detail on hand immediately so can ensure inquiries and wishes are met straight away without relying on a Post-it note for the funeral director on his or her return.
- Reporting and data that shows you which sources you are getting funerals from, and more importantly, where there is opportunity.
- An opportunity to target and manage your community profile in particular areas.
- An opportunity to interact in a timely way with your clients through all communication channels, especially social media and email.
In a sector that is so client-focused and where accuracy is essential, having a CRM system behind every funeral director can allow you to personalize and enrich the client experience in a safe and regulation-compliant way whilst always maintaining close, personalized professional relationships.
It should integrate seamlessly into how you operate. Like the restaurant I mentioned at the start of this article, the personal-focused service enriches the client experience.
So for me, the question is not "Do CRM systems have a place in the Funeral Industry?" – They do. The real question is, "If I want to deliver the best service and client experience possible as a Funeral Director, how do I do that without using CRM?"