The death care profession has faced an overwhelming amount of pressure since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The increased death rate, coupled with government lockdowns and restrictions, has meant that the role of the death care professionals has changed considerably over the last two years.
One-on-one interaction has decreased in favor of online alternatives as death care professionals have been forced to do things differently. Those that adapted quickly and embraced a reimagined experience have fared well through this period, while the businesses that resisted the change are likely to have found the past couple of years a struggle.
Even prior to the pandemic, consumer attitudes to death were rapidly changing; the events of recent years only served to expedite this process. To ensure funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries not only survive but thrive in a post-pandemic world, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of changing consumer trends and attitudes, and how the sector can adapt their services accordingly.
Generally speaking, prior to Covid-19, cemeteries, crematories, and funeral homes were 15-20 years behind technologically-wise. However, technological evolution in the death care sector has been the clear differentiator between those who have succeeded and those who haven’t.
In 2020, the pandemic brought about a surge of internet-based services to communicate, interact and stay connected across society among all age, income, and demographic segments. This has meant that the death care profession now needs to be able to interact with the consumer on different mediums than have traditionally been the norm.
Livestream has become the new mainstream. Many consumers believe they can show they care for a passed loved one by simply attending a funeral via a live stream and filling out a digital register book. Recent research also revealed that 40% of people desire a modern and more personal funeral, such as a live stream of the service.
With the industry seeing an increase in customers expecting to see products and pricing online, the responsibility is upon providers to communicate their services effectively. Consumers now want to know what to expect when they ‘meet’ virtually, often before they step into a funeral home, crematory, or cemetery.
Technology isn’t just influencing the first contact either. Consumers now expect webcasting to be a permanent offering, with 69% of Funeral Directors stating that sharing web links/video apps so people can watch online is the biggest new trend. Many consumers, however, aren’t willing to pay for it. Therefore, as a sector, it’s essential to ensure that the basic service charge covers these costs when pricing goods and services. In order to meet customer needs, death care professionals must incorporate technology into their entire customer journey, from prospect marketing right through to the aftercare they provide.
With these consumer expectations in mind, it’s vital that funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries look at how these new trends will affect their business going forward. Many questions will need answering: how will it affect their capital spend? What will investment look like in the future? Will the focus now be on technology, and over what time frame? How will success be gauged?
The ‘Amazon effect’ has swarmed the global population. Right now, from the comfort of our homes, we can use Google to find out most things we don’t know, and if there’s something we need, we can pretty much get it delivered to our door, and in most cases, the very next day. The reality is, people are looking for convenience in everything they do, which means that if an organization in the death care sector isn’t making it easy for the consumer, they will simply go elsewhere.
With this in mind, there are certain things that death care professionals should be ensuring they’re doing to minimize any loss of custom. For example, company websites should be easy to navigate. A slow website with a confusing design will be sure to drive customers away. When looking at ways to communicate with and reach the consumer, it’s not surprising that a good option is now text message. In fact, 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being sent. This means that customers are minutes from your reach, so dedicating time to aftercare is a great way to ensure customer satisfaction and client referrals.
Following the pandemic, a growing number of consumers are opting to only do business with companies that provide greater convenience. If businesses in the death care profession fail to meet the needs of the consumer, it could have a potentially catastrophic effect on their bottom line. Therefore, it is paramount that funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries listen and adapt quickly to the ever-growing demand for convenience.
As a result of Covid-19, many consumers have experienced the death of a friend or loved one. As a result, people are much more aware of their own mortality, and it has therefore meant that the desire to pre-plan funerals has gone off the charts. In 2021, 61% of consumers had started to think about their own funeral. In addition to this, the average age of people looking to pre-plan their funeral has gone down, with many more accepting that this is an inevitable part of life that needs proper planning. This significant trend will radically affect how death care professionals reach and communicate with prospective customers, as younger audiences will require a very different approach.
Finding a solution
With the funeral profession today in more of a vaulted position than it has ever been before in history and the value of death care services being highlighted and elevated over the last two years, the opportunity to adopt winning behaviors to capture the consumer has never been more important.
byondcloud is helping to capitalize on the winning behaviors. It is the industry portal for the death care sector, allowing professionals to connect with consumers and industry partners online. With the byondcloud’s online booking function, funeral homes can now begin arrangements anywhere and at any time – saving time and stress. Cemeteries and crematories can provide scheduling information and take bookings 24/7, and get simplified booking processes while also creating new business opportunities through online search capabilities.
Real-time calendars provide an immediate view of the availability of appropriate resources such as chapels, function rooms, and cremation services. Arrangements and bookings can be made online, even when the office is closed.
What’s more, by using the innovative marketmakr, death care professionals can showcase their products and services on their website, making it easier than ever for families to connect with them directly.
In summary, consumers have experienced new ways of doing things in recent years, which as a result, has meant the way death care businesses operate has needed to change. They need to become a trusted advisor and provide the solutions that they are eagerly searching for. In the modern era, choice, options, and convenience are paramount. There’s a perception of the profession, and then there is the reality, so it’s down to death care professionals to adapt in order to meet the needs of today’s consumer.