Funeral directors deal with some of the most emotionally vulnerable people every single day that they come to work. As such, their job does not only consist of organising a funeral as efficiently as possible. They are the trusted custodians of loved ones that have passed on, and that holds an incredible amount of responsibility.
Customer service when it comes to funeral care is not simply about going through the motions. It’s a form of support and care that funeral directors take extremely seriously. Of course, most funeral directors will offer personalised care and a warm attitude that befits the sort of profession that they are in. But there are certain things that even the best funeral homes can do to elevate the experience for their clients even more and make the process of saying goodbye that little bit easier.
Before the funeral
Funeral care starts long before the funeral even takes place. In the first few days following the loss of a loved one, clients will be at their most emotional and their grief can be all consuming. For them, meeting with a funeral director is already a task that they are likely dreading. That’s why a funeral director determined to go the extra mile for their clients treats a first interaction with incredible care.
For example, showing up to collect a body should not be business as usual, especially if this has happened in someone’s home. An exceptional funeral director will take the time, as much as is necessary, to sit down with their customers and talk to them, try to get to know them on a personal level to alleviate the burden of what is about to happen. At Harold Wood, our goal is to provide the same sort of care as a friend, to reach out a helping hand and treat everyone we work with with dignity and respect.
We sit with our customers over a cup of tea, let them talk to us about whatever they might wish, including their departed loved one. It’s this initial step that builds the bond of trust that is invaluable with this sort of work. It is also vital to create an inviting and comforting environment within the funeral home itself, not just in the customer’s home. The minute a customer walks through the front door, they should feel at ease and the surroundings should reflect that. You do not get a second chance to make a good first impression and that is never more important than during the introduction of a funeral director and the family they will be helping.
During the funeral
Constant communication and reassurance is vital not just before the funeral but during the planning process as well. A funeral director wears many hats, planning both an event as well as being a way for families to say goodbye to their loved ones. The most important way in which an exceptional funeral director can help their customers and go the extra mile is simply by helping to ease tensions.
Funerals are one of the most emotional experiences a human being will go through and it is not uncommon for families to become overwhelmed and for tensions to rise as a result. While getting involved in a family feud is not a funeral director’s job, they can help by listening with an open mind, offering practical solutions that make the most people happy, and thinking outside the box. And of course, families will often be extra touched by suggestions from their funeral director that will help make the experience more memorable and personalised for them. It can be as simple as offering to place photos of the loved one on display during the funeral or even suggesting something like a tribute video.
On a practical level, a funeral director can make sure that the stress of the day is completely taken off the family’s shoulders by taking over any organisational responsibilities, should the family be okay with this. This could include welcoming people, handing out order of service booklets, liaising with any potential musicians, and just generally freeing up family members to be able to comfort each other and grieve without worrying about things going wrong.
After the Funeral
A funeral director’s input is not always over from the moment the funeral is finished. Funeral homes are still able to offer support and care to those who have used their service, or at the very least remind them that they are always welcome to come back should they need any additional funeral care.
For example, something as simple as a thank you card can go a long way to show gratitude for families who chose to use your funeral home. It also reminds them that you are still thinking about them and their wellbeing. Sending flowers as a sign of condolence is also something that is likely to be very well received. Offering free services after the funeral is another way in which funeral homes can show they care. For example, delivering ashes at no extra cost takes the burden off grieving families, especially if they can be delivered during a period of time when they are emotionally able to deal with it.
These days many funeral homes also offer ongoing bereavement care for their customers. The period of time following a funeral can be extremely unpredictable and this is usually when people are able to start the grieving process properly. The initial despair that occured in the initial stages of the funeral planning process can rebound and it’s very normal to feel lost and alone in these moments.
Funeral homes can provide workshops or support groups for grieving families to get the support they need. Even recommending or referring them to a grief counselor could be helpful if they need a place to start in terms of where to go. Some people may have never sought help for their mental health before experiencing grief, so being led in the right direction can be invaluable.
When funeral directors go the extra mile for their customers, it can make a huge difference to their mental health and the way they are able to cope with and process their grief. Of course, funeral directors are not mental health specialists and are not usually qualified to be grief counsellors, but it’s sometimes the small gestures that count. Communicating, listening and thinking of more than just the bare minimum is already enough to create a better experience for everyone involved and will make it more likely for you to maintain great relationships with your customers for years to come.
We are a family-led business offering funeral services in Essex since 1958.