Dying is expensive, and often it’s both unplanned and unexpected. In 2021, the median cost for a funeral and burial in the United States was approximately $7 848, while the median cost for a funeral with cremation was approximately $6 971. These costs are rising more and more each year, becoming increasingly overwhelming for families.
Making expensive and complex decisions while dealing with bereavement can be challenging for many families. To mitigate this pressure, the onus is increasingly placed on the death care sector to provide support during this time. This causes another shift as death care providers increasingly turn to technology to meet these changing needs. But, while technology can solve many needs, it can sometimes take time to understand exactly how it can help.
So, how can technology help you address these changing needs?
Reliability and Support
When a loved one suddenly dies, the responsibilities and tasks for a family to consider can seem endless. This is where you, as a death care provider, come in to support them through this process and to lessen their stress where possible.
While supporting families is part of your role, being surrounded by trauma can take its toll. As a death care provider, you support families during the most challenging days of their lives. However, this shouldn’t come at the expense of your own physical or mental well-being. One study on the mental health of those in the death care sector found that mortuary workers had PTSD rates around 20% higher than the general population. While, at times, the stress and pressure placed on death care workers are unavoidable, some changes can be implemented to ease the pressure.
Technology can lessen your strain in a few ways while also making things easier for your families. Real-time digital calendars can be kept up to date and automatically updated across platforms when changes occur. Not only that, but many come with inbuilt automated reminders to ensure you never miss an important call. Workflows and automation are another digitization that can allow communication with the entirety of your team simultaneously. For larger death care providers, these tools can ensure consistent and exemplary customer service across branches. Finally, with detailed reporting, you can keep track of how your staff and branches are performing to help you identify opportunities to optimize your processes.
Your role as a death care provider is multifaceted and often requires you to wear several hats. Incorporating technology into your business can help your business run more efficiently, easing the pressure on your staff.
There are many decisions to make when organizing a funeral for a loved one. Some of these decisions families might find easy, their loved one may have mentioned it or left directions behind in a will, or sometimes they need to make these decisions themselves. Whether their choice is between burial and cremation or which casket to choose, these decisions can feel endless and overwhelming during a difficult time.
Much of your role as a death care provider is to ease families along this journey, supporting them and reminding them of their options. One easy way to ease the decision process is by digitizing your product and service inventory. This allows you to easily share the available choices with families online or in initial family meetings. Families can then understand their options, budget, and expectations before meeting with you, which eases much of the pressure placed on them during a difficult time.
From a business perspective, this can be incredibly beneficial in a multitude of ways. For instance, with a digitized inventory, it can be easier for your staff to manage and maintain stock levels. From a revenue perspective, sales staff can see at a glance what is available when helping a family. Additionally, with easy-to-use inventory reporting systems, you can understand the popularity of your items, helping to inform your future buying patterns.
Overall, while choice is important in every aspect of our daily life, for many families, increased clarity of choice when organizing a service can have an enormous impact. The digitization of inventory and online availability is an enormous asset to both families and staff alike.
Online resources + Accessibility
As with any planning process, families need to understand what elements of a funeral are most important to them or their loved ones. One such element rising in popularity is virtual funerals or live-streamed ones, so family and friends from all over can attend.
Virtual funerals are an accessibility tool that grew exponentially in popularity as the pandemic grounded flights and trapped people in their homes. Often held in tandem with physical, traditional funerals, virtual funerals are filmed so those abroad or unable to visit can attend. They won’t be a must for all families, but for those scattered across the globe, they might hold slightly more significant weight. If your funeral home has the facilities to facilitate virtual funerals, it’s worth mentioning to families during a consultation to help them understand their options.
For other families, different digital services might be important. The bombardment of expectations during bereavement can be overwhelming for many, so online resources on your business’s website can help make the process easier to manage. For instance, some families might find a funeral easier to organize with online scheduling, booking, and payment processes.
Make the most of your facilities, as families will increasingly turn to those death care providers who can meet their changing expectations. By maximizing your resources available and keeping on trend with the ever-changing expectations, you can provide care that best suits each of your family’s needs. As a business, you must ensure you’re putting your best foot forward by informing families of all the services you provide.
Cost and affordability
There’s no doubt that dying is an incredible expense, only continuing to rise with inflation. In fact, from 1986 to 2017, the price of burial caskets rose 230%, 135% above the standard cost of living increases in the same period. Costs are rising substantially in all facets of our daily life, and families feel this pinch more than ever regarding end-of-life services.
Increasingly, families are being called to take on debts to cover the cost of their loved one’s funeral. In a recent poll of more than 1000 US adults, 30% say they would take on between $1000-$5000 worth of debt, with 20% saying they already have.
The cost of dying is prohibitive for many Americans, and its impact can be seen in many of the decisions families make in their end-of-life care. This can be difficult to manage from a death care provider’s perspective without devaluing your time or service. With this in mind, however, there are a few things you can do to help your budget-conscious families without compromising on the value of your work.
From state to state, there are different government assistance programs that your families may be eligible for to assist in covering their loved one’s funeral. Sharing these resources on your website in the states or regions you serve can help families who are budget focused understand their options.
Alternatively, another easy way to help families who might have budget concerns is by sharing prices and general costs on your website. This allows families to understand their budget before meeting them, allowing them to make choices that best suit their and their loved one’s needs. Transparency over costs, services, and options available allows them to make informed decisions while also ensuring they’re aware of what fits in their own budget.
Organizing a service for a loved one can be difficult for many families, but it shouldn’t be for their death care providers. Technology can be utilized in various ways to help streamline your business processes and best help your families. While integrating technology into any business, particularly larger, more established businesses, can enormously impact your overall revenue, service, and staff mentality. Integrating technology can help your business spend more time with those that matter, your families.