Hand holding notebooks and bag

 

Written by Lexie Graf

 

Couldn’t make it to all the sessions you wanted to at the 2019 ICCFA Convention? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our recaps!

 

Below are a few of the informative sessions and speakers we attended at the ICCFA Convention. Check out part one, part two, and part three of our recap!

 

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Women in Leadership: Defining Your Impact

In this panel, panelists Shawna De La Cruz, Gwen Mooney, Lori Salberg, Poul Lemasters, and moderator Jennifer Olvera discussed the experience of women in the funeral profession. Below are some of the key topics they highlighted during their discussion.

 

Biggest Obstacles for Women in the Funeral Profession

 

One of the biggest obstacles for women in the funeral profession is time. All social change takes time, and oftentimes not as quickly as we would like. Women in the profession have had to prove they are worthy of being leaders and at times can be doubted for their capabilities. One way to overcome this is to seek out forward-thinking funeral homes when applying for a position.

 

Advice to Grow in Your Career

 

The best way to grow as a funeral professional is to be a positive communicator. Show your staff that you can handle tricky situations with an upbeat mindset. Another way to grow is to really get to know your staff. By being open to others, you build trust which leads to respect.

 

How to Be a Good Leader

 

The panelists said being on time, learning from your mistakes, taking opportunities, and showing you want it are all traits of a good leader. It’s not about arguing your credentials; it’s about proving you can do a good job.

 

“Should I Bring the Ashes With Me?”: Better Support for Those Who Have Lost Pets

In this session presented by Jehanne Gheith, she discusses the important role animals play in people’s lives and how funeral professionals need to be conscientious of this.

 

The Stigma of Pet Deaths

 

When a pet dies, it can feel like a family member died because, for many, pets are a part of the family! However, many experiencing their pet’s death are also faced with disenfranchised grief. Others don’t feel like they should be as sad about a pet as they would be about a person. They expect the grieving person to quickly get over the death. This can make the grieving person feel isolated and misunderstood.

 

What We Can Do

 

To help people dealing with their pet’s death, there are many things we can do. Foremost, never reduce the pet’s importance. They cannot simply be replaced, so never ask “when will you get another?” Instead, ask the person about their pet and have them share memories. Make them feel like they have your full attention. Remember, a sympathy card also goes a long way!

 

Embracing the Customer Experience Revolution

In their presentation, Lori Salberg and Jake Johnson from Johnson Consulting Group discussed the importance of the customer experience.

 

Defining a Good Customer Experience

 

A good customer experience is the new number one competitive advantage a funeral home can have. The expectation is that planning a funeral will be a seamless process for the client family. This means there will be no hiccups along the way. It also means that the funeral home staff went out of their way to provide excellent service, not just the bare minimum. Don’t just fix things, make them great!

 

Benefits of Providing a Good Customer Experience

 

When you provide a good customer experience, families are likely to give you positive referrals online which will improve your reputation. Families will also be more likely to use your funeral home in the future.

 

Five Ways to Improve Customer Experience

 

  1. Appoint one employee in charge of it.
  2. Write a customer service vision statement.
  3. Develop an aptitude for excellence and train for it.
  4. Eliminate negative cues (ex. “no!” signs everywhere)
  5. Listen to what the customer has to say (i.e. social listening, feedback)

Communication is a Two-Way Street

In this upbeat presentation, Carolyn C. Shadle and John L. Meyer shared ways you can be a better listener. Here are a few of their main techniques:

 

Practice the Five Main Listening Skills

 

Silence, asking appropriate questions, parroting, paraphrasing, and reflecting are all important listening skills. Learn about each one of them in detail in this article. When you practice better listening, families will find it easier to open up to you, which allows you to provide better care.

 

Show More Empathy

 

Empathy is a way to better connect with your families in their time of need. To show empathy, avoid judgment and try to take their perspective. How would you feel if you lost a loved one? How would you want your loved one to be honored?

 

Did you attend any of these sessions at the ICCFA Convention? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!