The sound of a ringing phone against the quiet hush of a funeral home can be jarring, but it’s also a necessary means of communication for both potential and existing clients.

What can be even more jarring, though, is when the phone is answered in a way that conveys even a whiff of incompetence or unprofessionalism. In fact, this can be taken as being disrespectful, considering that your industry often deals with mourning families and others in great need of compassion, understanding and patience.

If you’re not yet ready to put an answering service into play, you’re going to need to brush your staff’s phone skills up a bit.

Time to Establish Some Rules for Your Funeral Home Phones

It never hurts to have some set rules for procedures like telephone answering that should be consistent across your entire funeral home staff. When you put rules into writing, it ensures that everyone is following the same protocol and that every caller gets the same level of service. Everybody wins.

These are four you should consider in your first run of funeral home phone answering rules:

  • Answer the phone quickly every time. Letting the phone ring and ring is not just annoying for the people visiting your establishment, it’s painful for the person trying to call. You should make your entire staff understand that they should grab calls as soon as they hear them come in.If you have a formal receptionist, designate a backup for them in case they happen to be on the other line or taking a short break.
  • Always ask before placing someone on hold. When a caller is put on hold without warning, they really start to feel like you can’t spare the time to help them. This is a great way to shed clients, but if you want to retain them make sure to ask their permission to place them on a short hold.If you have on-hold music, set a timer for 90 seconds, then check in on them. Without hold music, don’t let them go more than about 30 seconds.
  • Listen to what the caller is saying, and what they aren’t saying. This is the most fundamental sales tactic and also the best way to do customer service. Just listen. Listen carefully, listen quietly, listen to understand what the problem is and how to help.Make sure your staff isn’t just waiting quietly for their turn to speak by randomly monitoring calls and practicing active listening as a team exercise.
  • Make sure to say “Goodbye.” There are lots of famous business people who were considered “quirky” or “efficient” because they simply hung up the phone when they were done talking. No “see ya laters,” just a dial tone to remember them by.This is generally not a good way to warm up clients and potentials. They’re at a time when they need closure, so make sure you give them a little. Say “goodbye,” ask if they need anything else, repeat an appointment time, remember that any nice closing is better than nothing.

Your funeral home phones are still the best way for most clients to connect with your business. How you handle those calls will make all the difference between having a glut of customers and failing to connect. Treat your telephone like the pros at your answering service do and have rules that establish consistency. It’ll make all the difference.