The role of the cemetery was once limited to helping coordinate funeral services and burials. Providing ample parking, air-conditioned facilities and a convenient location was the extent cemeteries typically had to go to maintain and gain a loyal customer base.
But a lot has changed since then.
Today, if the funeral home or cemetery can be avoided altogether, the consumer will often choose to do so. Here’s the thing: the NFDA projects the cremation rate in all U.S. states will exceed 50% by 2035. The fact that direct-disposer legacy brands have existed for decades speaks to the lengths that today’s consumer will go to avoid traditional funeral channels. It’s not just an unnecessary spend, it’s a cumbersome process that provides added stress during an already difficult time in their lives.
To add to that, the last few years have provided an added challenge for cemeteries. With lockdown enforcements and strict distancing guidelines, the consumers who did wish to commemorate a life have been left with few alternatives other than to wait. But after so much time has passed, re-engaging them has proven to be difficult; their lives have resumed to normalcy and the need (and memories) have waned in the passage of time.
But whether the customer chose not to burden themselves with funeral services and burials or simply didn’t have a choice, an effective approach to engage them does exist. The truth is, with the advancements in technology, cemeteries are perfectly positioned to foster relationships by providing a supportive and personalized experience for families during their time of need—and well beyond.
Before you jump to conclusions, let us clarify that not all CRMs are created equal. Many are centered around sales functionalities, adding to the stigma that “selling” is every cemetery’s primary goal. But in reality, CRMs should be used to help cemeteries build ongoing relationships and discover relevant and useful products and services that give families a reason to remain engaged. By integrating the CRM, cemeteries open doors to limitless customer benefits.
For example, integrated CRM engines can enable ongoing communication between the cemetery management team and the families of the deceased—whether it’s to notify them about upcoming memorial services or other special events. Employees can also get creative by sending families a thoughtful memory card at the deceased’s anniversary or during another relevant date. And when it comes to celebrating loved ones, there are plenty of ways to do so. For one, CRMs make it easier for families to purchase ongoing or ad hoc decorations, flowers, or thematic memorialization: flags for Memorial Day, unique decorations for holidays, special embellishments for birthdays, annual floral plantings, and extra maintenance items such as memorial cleanings.
A Tour of Axiom Cemetery Management Solution
Digitizing records, files and historical data are a must in this day and age. The benefits both internal and customer-facing are multifold: ease-of-use, convenience and robust information access. The embedded CRM provides important contact information, purchase details, status updates, deal-flow tracking, micro and macro sales analysis, forecasting and historical comparative metrics, to name a few.
Add-on self-service tools reduce much of the friction encountered by visitors. Features like digital cemetery mapping make it easy for families to find their way around the cemetery without having to waste unnecessary time or rely on help from the cemetery staff.
Today’s bereaved are weighing in convenience, cost and simplicity in their decision on whether—and where—to bury their loved ones. As expectations rise, cemeteries are faced with a new challenge: will they adapt to modern processes or resist change and risk becoming irrelevant in the consumer’s mind? For those who choose the former, CRMs are a great choice to engage and re-engage customers like never before. Among various advantages, they open doors to personalized customer benefits and simplify the bereavement journey—from the moment they step inside the cemetery and long after the crowds have dispersed.