“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” so goes the ad slogan turned a universal chunk of wisdom.

It’s true, too, especially when it comes to your funeral home clients. When someone calls you, it’s because something awful has happened or that they know they need to pre-plan their own funeral. Neither of these situations leaves room for calls being answered half-heartedly, or worse, not answered at all.

Funeral Homes are Essential Services

Your funeral home is the kind of business that everyone will encounter at some point in their life, as well as a place where they’ll be marking the end of it. Because of the significantly high level of emotion that’s invested in funerals, a lot is expected of you and your staff. When the first impression a caller gets from your facility is that you can’t be bothered to answer the phone, you need to rethink your process.

After all, in your situation, the client’s needs are much more than just the purchase of a service. If you find that your first impressions are lacking, there’s a lot you can do to improve the situation….starting with a funeral answering service.

Start with these tips and watch your reputation improve almost overnight:

  • Always have a human available to answer the phone during operating hours. It’s a small thing, but it’s so important. A human can empathize and reassure a caller that isn’t having the best day, and they’ll take the time it takes to help the caller through their purpose. If your staff is stretched too thin for this, consider hiring a funeral home answering service to answer all of your calls or just to take the wheel when things get busy.
  • Check voicemail multiple times a day, or better yet, ditch it. Even the most expressive voicemail is a cold reception for someone who is in mourning. It leaves them wondering if anyone really cares about their situation and if they should even bother to leave a message. When they do, they have no way to know when you’ll call them back. If you must use voicemail, check it frequently. Also include a message that explains when you intend to return calls, for example, within two hours.
  • Have someone on call for overnight and after-hours callers. You probably don’t take a lot of emergency calls, but the callers who do try to contact you after hours certainly feel like they’re in the middle of a serious situation. It’s vital to have someone on-call, whether that’s someone in-house or your answering service. When new clients find themselves speaking to a human on their first touch, even after hours, it leaves a lasting impression.

The first call for any business is a pretty important step in the customer journey, but this is a significantly more vital touchstone for funeral homes. After all, your funeral home is going to create the last memories of a beloved person or of the caller themselves. Choosing a funeral home is not a task that’s taken lightly, so if those first few minutes don’t go well, you’ve lost that opportunity forever.