A funeral home’s reputation is more than online reviews
Funeral home reputation management done well can be a strong driver of new business. Done poorly though, it can turn potential client families away.
What comes to mind first when you think about funeral home reputation management? Is the “health” of your online reviews at the top of the list?
In today’s age of digital consumerism, a strong focus on maintaining a positive online presence is critical to the success of your business. As a result, skillfully managing online reviews is an essential part of building and preserving an excellent funeral home reputation.
To that end, we’ve got tips to share on how best to manage online reviews, but first-things-first.
Before positive online reviews are earned, the “pre-review” elements of your funeral home’s reputation need to be top-of-mind.
These pre-review elements are the building blocks for how a funeral home is viewed by past and potential clients, laying the foundation for an excellent reputation. They’re the things that actually inspire consumers to go online and leave the positive reviews you work so hard to get.
5 building blocks of an excellent reputation
Responsiveness — How are you “there” for families that need your services, no matter the time of day or night?
Do you employ an answering service that gives the kind of care you want representing your business? When working to fit a pre-need meeting into your schedule, do you still apply a sense of urgency and care?
Clear information — Providing information in a clear, helpful way is essential to positive first impressions and trust.
People don’t always absorb information the first time it’s presented, especially when grieving. Don’t just make yourself available to answer questions that come up after your first meeting. Initiate follow up conversations and offer guidance without being asked.
Options — Are you making all funeral planning options clear to your clients? Families may not realize how many choices they have when planning and paying for a funeral. For instance, clients who opt for cremation might not understand that they can still choose a very personalized service. Likewise, families may not know that funeral financing is available as a payment option.
Patience & empathy — Do you deliver the same degree of compassion to every client? As a funeral director, you need a seemingly limitless supply of patience and empathy.
Whether it’s for the first family you serve after a day off, or the last client you meet with at the end of a stressful week — you must always give your best. In order to so, adopt at least a few self-care habits that will help you prevent compassion fatigue.
A lot of hats — We’re not talking about owning a great selection of headwear. To give the kind of service that earns an excellent reputation, you need to comfortably wear many hats. An exceptional funeral director smoothly switches those hats as needed — from businessperson to kind educator to professional caregiver to expert insurance “navigator.”
Positive impressions and strong relationships
Building and maintaining an outstanding funeral home reputation is not about delivering perfect service or having the most up-to-date décor in your reception area. Nor is it about offering every personalized remembrance and memorial item trend. These things matter, but there’s more to it.
In the funeral business, an outstanding reputation goes beyond skillful handling of logistics and tactical items. The best reputation and positive reviews hinge on being kind and genuine. It has to do with the warmth in your handshake and compassion in your expression. These are the little things you always manage to muster up — because you know it matters, and it shows.
Creating a strong initial impression that develops into trust and ongoing relationships is what drives positive reviews. It’s also what generates word-of-mouth recommendations.
Once you’ve solidly built a foundation of service and trust, much of your focus can then shift to the digital aspect of reputation management.
Make the most of your online reviews
Given the importance of online reviews, it makes sense that you give them a high priority. Striving for a positive online presence is a necessary piece of the funeral business.
Either you or someone on your staff should own monitoring sources of online reviews and mentions for your business. Whoever it is must be adept and consistent at responding to those reviews and mentions.
3 no-nonsense tips for managing reviews
Thoroughly monitor for reviews and mentions of your funeral home by using a variety of tools. Make it a consistently scheduled task each work day. There are plenty of free monitoring or listening tools and paid services out there to explore. Research which ones make the most sense for your business.
Respond to every review, mention, retweet, etc. that comes to your attention. 89% of consumers read business’ responses to reviews. Positive and neutral reviewers warrant a warm thank you for their business and the time they took to review your funeral home.
Negative reviews represent an opportunity to turn things around and thus deserve special care. In these situations, the aim is not to be right. Instead, focus on graciously receiving the feedback and offering to further discuss concerns privately and offline.
Commit to promptly following up on questions, concerns, and suggestions that are addressed in reviews. Act upon the items that make sense for your business. When contact information is available, a handwritten note or email can go a long way toward making things right in the case of a service miss.
Personal correspondence can also serve to “surprise and delight” someone who already has a positive view of your business.
All reviews, whether good or bad, should be viewed as a potential gold mine. If you pay enough attention, you’re likely to find nuggets of wisdom that reinforce what you’re doing well, and highlight what can be done better.
It’s not if — it’s when mistakes happen
You don’t have to be perfect to build an excellent funeral home reputation.
No matter how you strive to provide exceptional service, mistakes and oversights will occasionally happen. A misspelled name, an omission on a service program, a late start to an appointment. It’s not about thinking you can completely prevent mistakes. (Remember that earlier point about being human?)
Even a company known for outstanding customer service like Nordstrom makes mistakes. But, because they train and empower employees to handle service missteps, the company continues to exemplify service.
Whether legitimate or perceived, it’s important to address and rectify service issues when they come to your attention. Even if you feel you or your staff didn’t drop the ball, you still must respond helpfully and sincerely.
A few last thoughts
The term “funeral home reputation management” is misleading. More than just management, it’s actually a dual process. You need to continuously work to create a positive reputation and carefully protect it. With the advent of Google reviews, social media and sites like Yelp, your funeral home’s reputation is more widely known and impactful to the health of your business than ever.
As author Jackson Brown Jr. said, “Take care of your reputation. It’s the most valuable asset you have.”