customer service

What It Means to be a Golden Rule Funeral Home

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For nearly 90 years, the Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) has embarked on a mission to seek out and identify outstanding funeral homes around the world. Our members are independent, locally owned and operated firms dedicated to providing exceptional service to their client families. We call them Golden Rule Funeral Homes.

Not just any firm can join OGR. Those seeking membership go through a carefully developed screening process to assure both OGR and the public that member firms are of the highest quality.

To be a part of this prestigious group means a firm has distinguished itself in the following ways: Read the rest of this entry »

People Skills that Build Trust with Your Families

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people-skills-that-build-trust-with-your-familiesHave you ever thought that being in the funeral business would be a lot easier if it weren’t for the people?

But, the reality is that if you are in the funeral business, you are in the people business.

The skills we use to manage ourselves and to respond to other people and situations play a big role in the success of our businesses. With client families, the skill set can include empathy, language free of industry jargon, and active listening. These skills aid in effective two-way communication so both parties have the same understanding and, especially, the same expectations. Having strong people skills builds trust between you and the families you serve.

By following a few simple steps to develop stronger people skills, you can ensure your messages are understood by those you serve, you will give better customer service and you will inevitably get repeat and referral calls. Read the rest of this entry »

Silence the Stigma: Coping With Suicide

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Death from suicide provides a unique set of complications for the affected family, their friends, and the funeral service professionals who serve them. Offering comfort to the bereaved also becomes a bit more difficult. What should a friend or funeral director say? Is there anything to avoid mentioning? If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide, how should you respond?

Here are some tips for coping with the loss of a loved one to suicide and comforting the family of a suicide victim. Read the rest of this entry »

Suicide – A Funeral Director Speaks Out

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As a funeral director for over 30 years, I have been fortunate to help thousands of families through one of the darkest times in their lives. With September being National Suicide Prevention Month, I wanted to share a personal story with you on how suicide has touched the lives of my family.

It was a beautiful evening and I was sitting at the top of the Marriott Marquis in New York City at a cocktail party when my phone started to ring. It was my mother informing me my stepbrother had taken his life. In that moment, I knew I would have to put on a brave face since I was in a very public place. I equated it to the way President Bush must have felt when he was sitting in a classroom full of children when he was informed about 9/11. It was truly one of those heart-stopping moments. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Things I’ve Learned from Working with Funeral Directors

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Here’s a typical conversation that I have when I’m out with friends, meeting new people.

“What do you do?” asks someone who doesn’t really care but feels obligated to engage me in conversation.

“I work for a trade association that works with independently owned funeral homes. I’m a meeting planner.” I respond to cut to the chase.

“Oh! So you plan funerals? Do you embalm bodies?” returns the individual who now has a stronger interest in hearing what I have to say and obviously wasn’t listening.

“No. But I know quite a few people who do. Why? Do you need a discount on an urn?”

The asker typically turns pale and isn’t sure where to go from there.

So goes many a conversation at cocktail parties and other events when I have the opportunity to interact with anyone who doesn’t work in funeral service. It’s made me stop and think about what funeral directors face when they share their story with others.

Since I joined OGR’s staff four years ago, I’ve learned quite a bit about funeral service professionals and have found that they have a pretty challenging job. They work long, irregular hours around strange smells, extreme emotions, and lots of paperwork. They respond to phone calls in the middle of the night, often miss holidays with their families, and care for dead bodies. They maintain composure and professionalism in the midst of family conflict, inclement weather, and national tragedies. A lot of what they do is behind the scenes, unseen and unheard.  Read the rest of this entry »

Advice for Funeral Directors Working with Donor Families

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Photo Credit: Laura Demby      Jeni Stepien with Arthur Thomas after he walked her down the aisle at her wedding last Friday.

Jeni Stepien’s father was murdered ten years ago, but his heart lives on in the body of donor recipient Arthur Thomas. When Ms. Stepien  got engaged in October, 2015, she struggled with deciding who would walk her down the aisle. The thought that a piece of her father could be present during her wedding ceremony led her to ask Arthur if he’d be willing to escort her.  Mr. Thomas agreed, and after he walked her down the aisle on Friday, Jeni shared “My dad is here with us, and this man is here because of us.”

Such a beautiful story has us wondering what role the funeral director played in the Stepien and Thomas story. How can funeral service professionals serve families like the Stepiens? Funeral directors are well-positioned to provide donor families with the support and information they need and make a powerful impact in each family’s life, but is there anything they can do specifically?  Read the rest of this entry »

Dangers of Avoiding Feedback from Families

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Receiving criticism from a family after you’ve spent the whole weekend serving them to the best of your ability can be jarring. Maybe they write a letter telling you they didn’t like the style of the furniture or there wasn’t enough attention to detail. Whatever the feedback, sometimes it’s easier to ignore the comments and move forward with your business.

BUT, avoiding customer feedback won’t do you any favors.  Just because you avoid or ignore customer feedback doesn’t mean that your business is doing well, just like avoiding the doctor’s office, doesn’t make you healthy. In fact, many times it means that you’re sick and you don’t know it. Ignorance is not your friend when it comes to feedback and here are a few reasons why: Read the rest of this entry »