Funeral providers receive phone calls each day that vary wildly in tone and topic. You are fielding calls from business partners and vendors, community members seeking information about prearranging or an upcoming service and highly emotional calls from families who have just lost a loved one. Understanding what impacts your phone interactions is the best way to make sure you start each conversation on the right foot. Here are nine tips for improving your phone interactions.
1. Check your body language.
Believe it or not, your body language impacts the tone of your voice when you answer the phone. Even though the family member on the other end of the line can’t see you, sitting up with good posture can make your voice sound open, helpful and invested.
2. “Two ears, one mouth.”
We use this saying often with Homesteaders’ customer service team. It means that you should listen twice as much as you speak on the phone. Even if you receive a question from a community member that you are frequently asked, it’s important to wait for the caller to finish explaining their situation. Often, most individuals just want someone to listen to their concerns.
3. Don’t take it personally.
This can be challenging when a client family calls into the funeral home very concerned about a funeral service or plan. However, it’s important to keep in mind that they are more than likely upset about the situation, not you.
4. Make sure everyone understands.
People communicate in different ways using different words. Make sure to take the time to double check that the client family fully understands the information you have provided. Individuals are sometime too embarrassed to ask additional questions if they don’t understand an answer.
5. Use empathy when facing impossible requests.
When a family calls into a funeral provider with a request, they often already know what they are asking for is impossible. They simply want to be acknowledged and heard. After letting them know that their request is not possible, and why, work hard to help them find a solution. They will more than likely accept your offer.
6. Provide action steps.
Once you’re on the same page with the caller, provide concrete action steps at the end of the call so that everyone is on the same page. This will help the caller feel like their concern or question is being handled appropriately.
7. Invite families to call back.
Always try to end your calls with an invitation for the family to call you again with any questions. This builds confidence in you and your funeral business.
8. Follow through with your action steps.
If you agreed to complete a task or find additional information for the client family, make sure you do so in a timely manner. The fastest way to lose trust is to forget to follow through for someone.
9. Get assistance managing calls.
If your staff is overwhelmed with calls during the day, consider utilizing appointment setting calls with Homesteaders Solutions. This program features a call center that will work closely with your preneed staff to help them set appointments without the administrative work. This way, they’ll be more available to speak with families on the phone.
As technology progresses, families may be searching for new ways to connect with funeral homes when they have questions, such as email or chat. However, phone calls remain the number-one way people communicate with a funeral provider. It’s important to start your initial interactions with your community and families on the right foot.