In 2016, you would be hard-pressed to find an industry, business, or profession that hasn’t undergone a complete technological revolution. Technology suggests convenience, quality, and modernity — three features today’s consumers have come to expect, and three things businesses continue to offer in ever-glitzier and flashier ways.
The funeral profession hasn’t necessarily followed the same explosive path. The reasoning for that is clear: most funeral homes are local, family-owned establishments. Their funeral directors are busy serving the families (and communities) that need them.
Funeral homes generally do not have CTOs or IT specialists. They don’t typically subscribe to TechCrunch or Gizmodo, or run strategy meetings in chilly conference rooms. Funeral directors work closely with people, and serving those people with care and compassion has always been (and will always be) a funeral director’s foremost priority.
Still, maintaining an attitude of relative indifference toward evolving technologically could prove to be a serious mistake. If convenience, quality, and modernity are important to today’s consumers, the same surely will be true for the families that walk through your door. As a business leader, it’s critical that you rise to meet these changing expectations and standards as best you can.
To stay relevant in this dynamic, ever-changing economy, all businesses must stay conscious of the expectations of their audience. For example, if a family cares deeply about webcasting capabilities, digital register books, and the ability to remit funds online, it won’t matter how much they love your funeral home. In the end, they will opt for the funeral home that matches their desires.
It is also critical to gain parity. You don’t want your biggest competitor to have a more attractive, modern, and easily navigated website than your funeral home. At the very least, you’ll want your website to be just as good — but ideally, you’ll want your website to be much better.
Finally, never forget the value in repositioning. You might feel very attached to the brand and reputation you’ve built, but sometimes a transformation — even a slight transformation — is a powerful and formidable move. If a funeral home’s brand has been built on a heritage of tradition and austerity, it would make sense to reposition itself as a broader organization relevant to families who wish to honor their loved ones with modern celebrations of life.
In the end, relevance dominates. The world is no longer the simple place it once was — when a funeral home only needed to offer quality service to be successful. Consumers have more options than they ever have before. The same is true for the families you serve. If you want them to keep walking through your doors, maintaining relevance should be prioritized.