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YES … The burials industry is being affected by the digital world

Today, every industry and organisation exists in an ever more demanding digital world and is being pushed to a place where technology is playing an increasing role in the daily life of the organisation and its staff.

Cemeteries and memorial gardens are not immune to this… so how could they use technology to deliver a better service, improve operational effectiveness and build revenue opportunities?

Let's take a look at a few ways in which this can be achieved.

Innovative Service Delivery and Communication

The audience planning and paying for burials today are increasingly the millennials and these are people that have grown up with technology in the internet and mobile age.

These millennials not only enjoy the experience of transacting online but actually prefer to transact in this way and in many cases will avoid any organisation that does not give them the choice.

To properly engage these customers, providing digital interaction capabilities such as online communication (including social networking), funeral planning and booking and payment processing would provide an improved service which is delivered in the way that the customers want it.

Efficient Operations

Running a cemetery or memorial garden has many moving parts, hidden complexity and legislative controls to navigate. Using technology to connect the various elements together into a cohesive and easily managed system would results in smoother operational efficiency.

Consider some of these benefits:

  • Digital Mapping would make grave and memorial sites easier to manage and find. Adding availability and deceased data to the sites would facilitate legislative record keeping, help in directing people to sites and assist sales by knowing what is available.
  • Web Portals could be provided to make the booking and planning of funerals possible 24x7 without taking up administrative and operational resources.
  • Automated Documents and Permits driven by system based booking, planning, sales and funeral processes reduces errors, saves time and ensures compliance.

While there are many other areas of the operations that could be optimised, the above examples show how the digital age can improve operational efficiency and running costs.

New Revenue Opportunities

The lack of space in cemeteries for new income-producing burials, plus a significant trend toward cremation in lieu of burial and lower interest on trust funds used for maintenance have eroded cemetery revenues.

This leaves many cemeteries searching for alternatives to traditional funding mechanisms and innovations in cemetery land and asset use.

Technology has sparked what could be dubbed as the "subscription economy" where the concept of a smaller recurring fee is far more attractive to a customer than lumpy up-front payments. However, the revenue from ongoing fees over a period of time far exceeds what could have derived from an up-front payment. By adding additional services to this (for example automate the placement of flowers weekly) recurring model will create a wealth of new revenue streams.

Using marketing automation and social networking to provide all kinds of digital content (newsletters, promotions, special offers, events, etc.) aimed at keeping in touch with your audience, will simplify information dissemination, engage them more effectively and will build a stronger relationship with your ecosystem, thus having them taking up more revenue generating services and products.

Each of the examples above would be very difficult to take advantage of without the use of the modern digital capabilities presented by technology today. By embracing this technology, cemeteries and memorial gardens can more efficiently manage the operations while building new revenue opportunities and improving their relationship with their ecosystems of customers and partners.

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Thursday, 20 July 2017