The 'Technology Equalizer': Pandemic Precipitates Cemetery’s Digital Transformation
If there is one catchphrase to encompass 2020, it's the "new normal." Most businesses have had to navigate unprecedented challenges in the face of a global pandemic. That includes cemeteries.
While cemeteries can be excellent places for the public to socially distance safely, the challenges cemetery operators face are very real. Some cemeteries, perhaps smaller independent ones or those with volunteer staff, may have not yet embraced technology for a host of reasons—time, lack of expertise, or lack of tech-savvy staff. But if you don't think now is the time to institute change, waiting too long could prove too little, too late.
When the pandemic hit, for most in the early first quarter of 2020, everybody—from teachers and students to libraries to restaurants—was forced to deliver goods and/or services in the digital world. Some cemetery operators were still relying on their tried-and-true, albeit often outmoded, methods of records management, paper mapping, aftercare and marketing services, and other functions.
But early adopters have been leading the way in cemetery management, using tools such as operations software to manage their business more efficiently and cater to today's customers.
Especially in the death care profession, change doesn't come easy or without some hesitation. But it's essential to meet today's consumers where they are. The global pandemic has become somewhat of a technology equalizer, with everyone now competing online for attention, marketing, and sales.
Digital transformation in the death care profession has been moving in this direction, but the effects of the pandemic have sped it up. Embracing digital transformation in your business is no longer considered "out of the box" thinking. It really is the new normal.
Today's Changing Customer Base
Millennials and other younger generations don't use outmoded means to find services; they use mobile devices for just about everything—ordering food, setting up appointments, conducting online banking. You need to be where the customers are—in their space.
How will they find your cemetery? Forget about drive-by recognition. And it's no longer (often) a case of family, geographical or religious loyalty. It's often most about convenience.
So, in addition to having an engaging and useful website—full of active links and pertinent, updated information, having a social media presence (one that is updated often) is essential. That could mean Facebook and Instagram pages where you showcase photos of your cemetery, point out interesting history, and answer queries and connect directly with potential customers online.
And today's customers are not only comfortable, they're used to buying most purchases online, with the click of a mouse. So, it's not a stretch to realize they more willing to plan funerals and buy cemetery plots or niches virtually.
Integrated operational software like byondpro incorporates many functions to make the transition to digital engagement easier. Workflows and records management functions will help cemetery operators get their behind-the-scenes data in more usable forms. Other functions provide everything for the entire customer journey—digital and interactive mapping to show available plots, inventory management, deceased searches, historical records searches, service scheduling, and more.
If the death care profession has learned anything through all of the trials of 2020, it's that business will likely not go back to the way it was. But hopefully, embracing all the benefits technology can bring will make it even better and more efficient.
A digital transformation would have happened over time anyway. And as tragic as it is, it may have taken a global pandemic to get the profession to change its point of view…and accept today's new normal.
Tony Lorge, CEO, OpusXenta
With a background in accounting, Tony built an interest in technology in the early days of the personal computer ("PC") coming to the market. He quickly built solid experience by providing the clients of the audit practice with the services they needed to properly understand what they could do with a PC and what the benefits could be for their business.
At the risk of developing the perfect "nerd" storm of both accounting and technology experience, Tony soon grew a strong customer base that relied on his expertise to succeed in their use of technology.
With this background, he has built a track record of success in creating and sustaining highly regarded world-leading business software firms in highly competitive global environments.