As the ongoing global pandemic perpetuates a socially distanced “new normal,” long-lasting changes in consumer preferences are emerging, including choices related to deathcare. Important activities that less than a year ago seemed firmly rooted in in-person interactions, such as car-buying, are now moving to the digital realm; as consumers become more comfortable with living virtually, they now want to embrace end-of-life business decisions online, too. For organizations that own and/or operate cemeteries, digital mapping can provide a low-cost, high-impact entry point to start serving today’s post-pandemic customer.
The consumer catalyst for deathcare’s digital transformation
COVID has rapidly made a profound impact on the way consumers want to interact with deathcare service providers. For example, a May 2020 survey released by The Foresight Companies, a consulting firm serving the funeral and cemetery business, found that 75% of consumers now want funeral pricing online––a practice almost unheard of today. Also, 52% of respondents said they would only do business with a funeral services provider that offers online pricing options, while 73% say it’s important to have pre-planned arrangements.
Consumer demand for digital interactions and price transparency extends to cemeteries, too, creating new service, sales, and marketing opportunities. The good news is, there are several options for getting started with digital cemetery mapping, all of which are readily available today.
Digital cemetery mapping provides the foundation
Serving customers online begins with being able to present your offerings in a digital format. A digital cemetery map does exactly that; it visually integrates your property’s location data with a photographic, topographic map, allowing viewers to see and compare sites in a highly accurate context—all without setting foot on physical ground.
It is easy to get started with a cloud-based digital cemetery mapping tool. Ideally, the tool should offer multiple levels of detail and functionality, such as:
A mapping tool, which some software providers offer free, allows you to build a cemetery map by inputting plot location information from spreadsheets, paper records, or both. Through built-in integration with Google Maps, the software can pull in and overlay corresponding satellite images, providing a quick, low-cost way to gain a rudimentary digital representation of your cemetery.
For finer detail and a higher resolution map, cemetery location information can instead be overlaid with images from ArcGIS, a leading commercial mapping system.
Drone footage can deliver the most compelling digital experience, overlaying plot location information with GPS coordinates and original images, rather than a third-party map. With a fully digitized GPS-enabled map, you can have great flexibility to showcase your facility to prospective customers, providing a detailed view of specific plots and their surroundings.
Costing significantly less than professional surveying, drone-based digital mapping is a highly accurate alternative, offering accuracy to one centimeter of variance.
The foundation of additional opportunities
A digital cemetery map is a key sales tool to capture today’s digital customer’s interest and action. It can also be the basis of incremental revenues and services such as:
- Virtual visits that allow loved ones to see existing graves and surroundings up-close, complemented with a floral bouquet placed at the grave by your service team as a memorial or remembrance.
- Cross-sell opportunities to additional family members, who can easily view adjacent and nearby available space to form a family plot, with no travel required.
- Self-serve on-site visits via modern deceased search on your website. Entries can include gravesite GPS location data, so families can easily search and get pinpoint-accurate directions on their mobile phones while visiting.
A single digital cemetery map can drive all manner of operational efficiencies, as well, starting with a central cemetery management system—a far more reliable and compliant approach than multiple spreadsheets and scattershot paper records. Ideally, this software should be cloud-based, instead of software installed on-site, to provide the greatest ease of installation, use and updates, and high-security levels.
A centralized management system will allow you to see all relevant information for specific locations:
- Cases and incidents
- Plumbing and electrical diagrams
- Flora and features
- Risk registers
- Schedule of services.
What to look for:
Cemeteries of all sizes can benefit from digital mapping. When choosing a solution, best practice-capabilities include:
- Easily upgraded satellite imagery, allowing a single plot framework to be overlaid with basic imagery from Google Maps and easily replaced with high-resolution data from ArcGIS or original drone footage.
- Integration with a comprehensive cemetery management platform, to put at your fingertips all the information you need to make both strategic and day-to-day operational decisions.