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Myth vs. Reality…What Do Families Really Want?

July 25, 2017

I used to love going to the grocery store. I loved strolling up and down every single aisle to pick out everything I needed, and then some. It was a “get away” for me…until I had a child. Grocery shopping then became a painful chore. Now, my trips to the store involved trying to keep my daughter occupied while racing through the store as fast as possible before her next toddler tantrum, only to realize I had forgotten two of the most important items when I got home. I dreaded going to the grocery store every single weekend.

A few months ago, I heard about free online grocery shopping. This is something that has been in the “big cities” for a while, but it was brand new to Abilene, Texas. I was completely skeptical. You go online, choose a time slot you’d like to pick up your groceries, and just add everything to your online cart and check out.  You do an online mobile check-in to let them know when you’re leaving to come get your groceries, then they load your car for you, and off you go. For FREE. How could this be? I have obsessive tendencies, so the thought of someone else choosing the food my family was going to eat made me a bit anxious, to say the least. I’m clearly the only person that knows how to pick a perfect banana or knows which pack of chicken looks less “fatty”.  I’m also the person that won’t pick the box of cheese crackers if the corner is barely bent. I will dig to the back of the stack to find the perfect box.

How in the world was I going to trust someone to do a job that I’m clearly an expert at? What if they give me bad bananas? What if my box is bent? What if I get yogurt with an expiration date for tomorrow? These were a few of my fears going into online grocery shopping.

The reality is, any kind of change is a little bit scary. I work with funeral home owners and staff members every day in my line of work, and a majority of the time, these funeral professionals also have fears when transitioning to an online case management system. I’d like to share a few of the most common fears I come across in my work. These fears often come from myths or misconceptions that are ultimately holding us back and keeping us from having a great experience! Let’s take a look at a few of these myths:

“Software will replace me”

There’s a lot of buzz these days about having “robot-proof” jobs. Understandably, funeral directors are fearful that once a piece of new software is implemented, then “my job will be gone, and I will be replaced by a computer.” The reality is that funeral directors and staff will always be needed. Love, devotion, and compassionate care are elements of funeral service that can never be replaced by a computer. Families still enjoy and need the personal touch that funeral directors provide, and time-saving technology can actually free you up to have more time to focus on the family, meaning that you will spend less time on the administrative grunt work. Now, that’s a win-win! The right technology can actually make you a better, more responsive, more connected funeral director.

“My families will think I don’t care”

Funeral home owners, funeral directors, and administrators often think they are “pushing” work on the families if they ask them to enter information such as vital statistics into an online system. The fear is that families will think the funeral home staff is coming across as cold or not caring. The reality is that your families will have to provide this information in one way or another. The only difference is that now, they have options. They can gather everything they need and bring it into the funeral home, OR they can work on it at their own convenience from the comfort of home. You are simply providing that family with flexibility and options, which, in my humble opinion, is very caring and considerate.

“It’s not secure or reliable”

What is “the cloud” and is it safe? That’s a question I get asked a lot! The cloud is essentially off-site information storage and backup. People are sometimes skeptical about the cloud being secure. At our company, we use the same servers that NASA and the CIA use, so is it secure? Yeah, you bet. And let’s face it…the old filing cabinets you have are not really all that safe. Paper files can be lost, stolen or destroyed in a flood or a fire. All the documents that you have been storing for 20+ years could be gone in a heartbeat. Having your most important and valuable information stored on an off-site server is very critical if you are concerned about safety. That information is automatically backed up and can be accessed anywhere, anytime, from any Internet-connected device, which is amazingly convenient.

“My staff can’t make this kind of change”

This may be the case if you don’t have the support you need. If you invest in a software or technology service, and that company leaves you high and dry to fend for yourself, then it’s very possible that your staff won’t be able to successfully adapt to new technology. But, there are companies that will stick with you and support you all the way through the transition so that adoption rates are through the roof. I have to tell you, one of my favorite customers is a 75-year-old great-grandma, and she is an absolute Rockstar with our system. She is willing to learn and knows we are here to help her and provide as much training as she needs. I can honestly say I love talking to each and every one of my funeral homes and have built amazing relationships with all of them. We know each other on a first name basis and I care immensely about their success. Your staff can learn to love a software if it’s presented the right way and if they have the support they need. I’ve seen self-proclaimed “non-techy” people change into software superstars before my very eyes.

“My families won’t use this technology”

Do you use technology to communicate with your family? Think about it. Whether it’s social media, group texts, or emails, you are probably using some form of technology to communicate with your family on a regular basis. That’s because most families are now spread all across the globe. So, what’s the first thing that families do when they lose a loved one? They start communicating. Using technology. Now, we know that not all tools are created equal. If you want to dig a hole to install a pool, you can use a shovel or a bulldozer, but a bulldozer will get the job done a lot faster and do a much better job! Now, we finally have a tool that helps families come together and makes a difficult time a bit easier. Families are interested in solutions that are easy and convenient. So will families use it? If it saves them time, offers them a tool they need, or makes their lives easier, then the answer is YES! Across the country, we have found that families will use our online collaboration tool nearly 50% of the time when they are offered the opportunity!

 “It will take me longer”

Sure, there is a learning curve for any new software, especially if you are coming from the big yellow tablet and pencil. But the correct funeral home software will actually save you time. For example, I would look for software options that offer a single data entry point. You enter the data once and use it everywhere! If the software integrates with other service providers that you use, such as websites and memorial printing, then all the better. I’m sure you just love filling out multiple forms that all contain the same information, but if you are using the right kind of software, all that ends. Having the right software in your funeral home can almost be like having an extra staff member who gets things done accurately and in record time, never gets sick, never takes vacation, and works for pennies an hour. Now, that is a steal of a deal!

In case you are wondering how my foray into online grocery shopping turned out, once I placed my first online grocery order, I was hooked. They gave me boxes with perfectly square corners, great bananas, and even gave me a goodie bag. I never thought I would be okay with someone else doing “my” job, but it’s given me my time back and now I have more time on the weekend to spend time with my family. All this to say, technology is here to stay, so let’s use it to our advantage and get the most out of it, all while saving time and creating more opportunities for enhancing our service to families at their most difficult moments in life.

Originally published in the Funeral Business Advisor

Kelsey Swearingen is the Customer Success Manager for Passare, Inc., an innovative software as a service (SaaS) company founded by a group of forward-thinking funeral home owners who desired to enhance their service to today’s tech-savvy families. The result was Passare, the funeral industry’s only collaboration software with integrated case management. As Customer Success Manager, Kelsey has worked with hundreds of funeral professionals and tens of thousands of at-need cases from across the nation, giving her a bird’s eye view into industry trends across the nation. Connect with Kelsey on LinkedIn or email her at [email protected] for more information.