And… they have been for about 10 years now. Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave you should know this by now!
It’s so known, in fact, that 71% of families don’t want a traditional funeral, according to one of our sources.
However, many families have not even experienced a personalized funeral service before.
It seems to me that there needs to be an industry standard set.
So we thought we’d share some tools (and not the tools you’d imagine) to create personalized services that truly inspire, heal and give meaning to your client families’ lives.
Here are the 8 tools every funeral professional needs… and that your families are asking for!
To share them, we’ve collected reviews from funeral homes (who will remain anonymous) all over the country so you have the proof in the pudding: families are looking for personalization, period!
Check them out below:
Tool #1: Practice profound empathy as the foundation of every service
The review: “Every step of this terrible journey was made easier by the staff. When they came to pick our loved one up from our house after he passed, they were so respectful, yet I could hear their quiet sniffles. Something so small gave me such comfort as I could tell they understood just a little bit of what we were feeling.”
What they mean: Profound empathy is the #1 super power of funeral directors. And if you’re wanting to offer superb personalized services for them, it’s the first step to take. Empathy puts you in your families’ shoes. And, it lets them know you truly care. Then, they’ll be more likely to trust your choices and what you offer them. For example, the family in the review above, felt at ease just by witnessing the tears of the funeral directors for their tender situation.
Tool #2: Listen for the details… and create meaning out of them
The review: “When meeting the staff to plan the viewing, they were real, honest, and compassionate on a very personal level. They were truly helping US. We told them we wanted the viewing to be “fun” and wanted people to see our son one last time. We wanted it real and comfortable. We wanted our other kids to be able to run around and play as we honored our child, knowing he’d be running around playing too if he could physically be there.
The funeral home outdid themselves. We showed up the day of his viewing and all the staff were wearing superhero t-shirts. They set up balloons and all of his favorite snacks for our guests. As hard and sad it is to go back to that day, the funeral home really made it special FOR our loved one! 💙”
What they mean: Listening is what leads to life changing customer service. Listening is what breeds creativity and innovation. When we listen, we can find out what our client families TRULY want, instead of offering them what we think they want. In this case, listening led to a surprisingly successful funeral service for a sudden loss of a child. These types of experiences are the ones that start to create deep healing for the family now, and for the rest of their lives.
Tool #3: Capture the interests of the loved one
The review: “The funeral home did an excellent service for our family! They suggested several things for the viewing and it turned out wonderful. They were able to capture my Dad’s interests in a thoughtful tribute to him. The funeral director was also very flexible with the actual service. It was exactly as my Dad would have wanted it.”
What they mean: When you lead any arrangement meeting with questions about the loved one and what they liked to do, you’ll end up with prime material to work with for the service. Here are some questions you can ask the family, that will inspire great service and healing for all:
- What did your loved one do for fun?
- What are some of your favorite memories with the loved one?
- Their favorite snack(s) and drinks?
- Their favorite music?
- What would they love to see happen at their own funeral?
Hopefully these questions will get things in momentum. For more questions on how to create an exceptional and meaningful funeral service, check out this blog.
Tool #4: Offer space for customization & flexibility in all you do
The review: “We lost our loved one recently and had to put together a local service on a very short timeline, as her relatives wanted her there for a service 5 days after she passed. The staff were extremely helpful in helping us organize the service here, and expedited the paperwork necessary to transport her, as well as arranging the transport and working with the mortuary to effect a smooth transfer. They always respected our grief and helped us to conduct the service that we wanted, rather than trying to push a one-size-fits-all mentality into the process. I cannot think of anything that they could have done better.”
What they mean: Sure, a great set of personalization packages and list of services is awesome. These are helpful and encouraged. But could you leave room in your packages for customization and flexibility? Could your packages be a jumping off point for truly creating a unique celebration of life? When you offer something families can work with, but give them room to ask for what they need, this is the perfect combination of structure and personalization to create magic!
Tool #5: Do one small act of kindness or surprise for every family
The review: “At a time when it was needed the most, the funeral home helped my family & I tremendously! My loved one had passed away & we we’re all at a loss for words. The staff guided us patiently [and] were very professional and went beyond to make sure we were OK! I was so touched on the way to the cemetery [because] we stopped in front of my mother’s house and they placed a rose by her front door. Extremely touching. I highly recommend them. Thank you so much for your kindness in a time that was greatly appreciated.”
What they mean: What if for every family you serve, your funeral home committed to ONE simple act of kindness, or one element of surprise? Imagine how much impact just one small act can impact a family. It might seem silly, but look at how much a single rose left an impact on the person who left this review. What if this was one of your funeral home’s core values? You’d be leading the way for the rest of us, that’s for sure!
Tool #6: Don’t let the service stop at the service
The review: “A 5 star experience ….Because of the care and support from the funeral home, I was able to take care of my brother’s sudden death with confidence and comfort for my family. The staff was ….and is ,very knowledgeable . The staff supported my decisions and offered ideas for those decisions. The staff treated me like I was a part of their family… still reaching out to offer support ,months after my loss. They made a terrible life event much easier to cope with…the funeral home went above and beyond my expectations!!
What they mean: The difference between commerce and community is thoughtfulness. When we’re just selling things, once the sale is over, so is the relationship. When we are serving the community, the relationship never ends. What kind of relationship do you think keeps your funeral home’s name in the hearts of a family for multiple generations? Probably not the commerce based one.
Tool #7: Include grief counseling as a part of your personalized services
The review: “The funeral home came to my rescue when my husband passed away quite unexpectedly. The funeral director was such a tremendous help and did everything he could to make sure my husband was well taken care of. I think it’s wonderful that they also offer grief counseling and my husband will be honored in their yearly tribute/candlelight service in December; not only for those that the funeral director took care of but for anyone and everyone in the community! That level of care was so appreciated and I will never forget the kindness, professionalism that were given in such a painful time in my life!”
What they mean: In the spirit of serving your community… what if your personalization packages & services weren’t just for the loved one? What if they were for the family too? What if they included 3 months of FREE grief counseling for the family? This is a whole other realm to step into, yet so worth it. As grief wellness trends are on the rise, we predict them to explode in 2023. So tap into this new wave of energy in the death care industry and see how it rewards you!
Tool #8: A solid all-in-one funeral personalization platform
We’ve focused a lot on non-physical tools for funeral personalization so far. But we all know, a solid all-in-one funeral personalization platform is at the heart of all your efforts. It serves as a foundation for many ideas and services to come. Have you tried Life Tributes All-In-One Personalization platform yet? We’re offering a free 30-day trial, to grab it click here or give us a call at 800-798-2575, ext. 5.
What are your favorite tools for funeral personalization? Tell us in the comments below!