Improving the Cemetery Customer Experience
Digital transformation had swept the world long before we could imagine the current pandemic, which only accelerated ongoing trends in technology. While businesses are finding ways to improve their customer experience with digital innovation, the more traditional cemetery industry is getting left behind. Once the funeral webcast is over, they miss meaningful opportunities due to a lack of technological options. “Instead of promoting cemeteries as a place of closure, instead we should shift our thinking to view them as places to continue our bond with our loved ones,” writes Rochelle Rietow of FuneralOne.
Why don’t more people use “customer experience” as a factor when choosing a cemetery? Why don’t more cemeteries take advantage of opportunities for meaningful touchpoints with their customers? After all, a better experience is a way to expand their market and attract a more diverse audience. To answer this question, we need to consider today’s family experience and tomorrow’s technological solutions.
At AFTR, we have had eye-opening conversations with over 2,000 cemeteries in the last few months. I have heard first-hand how much cemeterians and funeral directors care about providing a sensitive and caring experience for families. This means everything from making sure the burial site is prepared in advance, equipment moved out of sight, seating set up, and in our day and age, that the camera is on and streaming to remote mourners. Of course, the personal attention provided by the funeral director is one of the keys to helping families feel supported in their grief. Some cemeteries offer additional services like tombstone cleaning or flower placement.
Perhaps, when choosing a final resting place for a loved one, or pre-planning for themselves, most people’s choice will default to the closest local cemetery, or the closest one with their religious affiliation. That’s because people do consider the ease of visiting their loved one when all is said and done. But when family members are scattered around the country, like mine are, it can also be challenging to find a location that is convenient for everyone. Even if they are willing, family members are rarely able to make frequent hours-long trips to pay their respects. So there has to be another way to narrow down the choice of cemetery, and I believe that the customer experience can be a competitive advantage.
Popular brands from Starbucks to Dove to Marriott are successful in part due to their superior customer experience. People come back for the experience they expect, even if they have to walk a little farther to get their cup of coffee. In recent years, customer experience has become something of a buzzword in marketing, and there is every reason that cemeteries can benefit from focusing on it, too.
I started AFTR to help families be there when they can’t, connecting with their loved ones from afar through our app and graveside camera system, and making sure the resting place is well-maintained. Cemeteries that offer digital solutions like AFTR camera placement are making a statement that they care about their customer experience, they understand the challenges faced by modern families, and they are willing to serve a broader geographical audience.