Moments that matter—weddings, births, anniversaries. We spend days, weeks, months planning for them to preserve the memories beyond the events themselves.
But funerals—or celebrations of amazing lives lived—are often planned in a short transactional timeframe, fraught with emotional stress and fresh grief. Sometimes, due to the rush and immediacy of the planning, the funeral celebrations can be devoid of personality or any sense of the loved one lost.
It’s time to go beyond the narrative of traditional, and often somber, funeral services and present celebrations of life—ones that truly honor the loved ones.
There’s no one thing to blame; in Western culture, discussing death is considered taboo and leads to an avoidance of death that plays into people being uncomfortable—or unwilling—to talk about end-of-life issues.
Consider, if funeral directors took the lead in changing that perception, it’s a win-win for all involved. And technology can help support Funeral Directors in leading that charge.
For funeral directors, it’s all about the four Cs—communication, connection, coordination, and customization. And the key to all four is unlocking the potential of technology and its reach in the death care profession.
A funeral director can communicate the many options available to families—some they may not even be aware of. As professionals, we know that when a family walks away with fond memories of the celebration, it’s worth it in many ways; it can translate to positive feelings, favorable associations, and, most likely, loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.
Through online marketplaces and other technologies, funeral directors can connect and coordinate directly with vendors offering unique and personalized service items. That could include florists, caterers, venue sites, musicians, decorators, designers, celebrants, guest speakers, and any other partners.
Cemeteries could also be used as a customizable venue; they often have rooms and facilities that are serene and have the ability to style and design the space to suit the celebration.
Traditionally, funeral professionals used phone, fax, or email to do this. Now, connecting is smooth and seamless, no matter the time zone. Make bookings more conveniently―day or night with interactive web-based scheduling, facility selection, and intake forms. And all the details you need—including reference numbers, site names, transaction types, deceased names, approvals—are readily available on an easy-to-read screen.
Coordinating with vendors may be the nuts and bolts of planning the celebration. But customization is the crowning jewel funeral professionals can offer families. And, literally, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.
Once funeral directors connect with their community, their reach is seemingly endless to what they offer, based on their providers and a family’s budget.
The call to action can be simple or a bit fancier, depending on the family. Why not offer customized invitations (much like an invitation or a Save the Date card for a wedding)? Weddings are joyous celebrations of love and families connecting; it’s not a stretch to think of funerals in a similar vein. Acknowledge the loss, of course, but celebrate the joy in everyone coming together—from a loved one’s past and present—to remember them fondly. Raise a glass and share a toast!
If far-flung families (or those sheltered due to COVID) are unable to attend, funeral directors can arrange live streams or Zoom invites. It may seem impersonal, but if there is anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that warmth and comfort can be communicated even via a screen.
With ready and willing vendors, funeral directors can take on the role of celebration coordinator, learning what a family’s moments of meaning are—exactly WHO was the loved one? What happened during that dash between their birth date and death date?
Here are a few ideas:
- Provide custom floral pieces. Was the deceased an equestrian? Why not suggest a custom floral saddle piece to be displayed at the front of the chapel?
- Decorate tables by theme and consider offering favors or takeaway gifts, such as a seed packet if their loved one was a gardener.
- A collector might appreciate being remembered by displaying some of their fondest pieces at the celebration. Maybe candy in a vintage steel truck? Or their postcard collection displayed as table toppers.
- Much like a wedding, caterers could prepare food based on theme, such as a Hawaiian luau or a feast of ethnic specialties—including, perhaps, Grandma’s favorite baklava?
- Create a special event with a local partner, such as a pet adoption day. The local humane society could bring kittens to the celebration, both to provide comfort and to possibly get adopted.
- Create a celebratory atmosphere with music; live music is great if the budget allows.
- Remember that with the connections and partnerships you can corral, nothing is too “out there” when it comes to a family’s wishes. Even an Elvis impersonator for Mom who loved Love Me Tender. Or hosting a family ping-pong tournament after the service to see if anyone can beat Dad’s record!
Too much fun for a funeral? It’s become almost cliché these days to say “put the ‘fun’ in funeral,” but it’s not too far off base, especially with some of the demands of today’s younger generation.
The power of byondcloud allows funeral professionals to support those important four Cs—communication, connection, coordination, and customization, as well as to capture new leads and keep in touch with existing customers with easy-to-use visual marketing automation tools. By sending reminders and personalized communications automatically, you can build and strengthen customer relationships.
Go beyond the traditional funeral service by harnessing the power of technology. By streamlining all these processes and turning them into meaningful celebrations, funeral directors will have more time to offer families the comfort and care they need.