Online Funeral Arranging: What I think and a Harvard Study that Supports It.

While I was involved in preneed marketing I observed an odd and, yet, consistent human behavior.

Research suggests that many people would prefer to plan their funeral with someone other than a funeral director. YET, when a death occurred they don’t want to talk with anyone BUT a funeral director.

So as the internet has taken hold and predictions of capturing large blocks of business by using it to help people avoid interacting with a human being proliferate, I was and am skeptical. Yes, I am certain a block of people will be attracted to the “convenience.” unfortunately, if online arrangements become the norm, we will end up underserving the public. As a result, we will drive even more away from what we do with the eventual consequence of unresolved grief.

Today, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review and, while it is mostly about the financial services industry, it has application to the belief that we should go electronic.

It seems that when a transaction is anxiety-producing (and I believe funeral arrangements are often anxiety-producing) working with a human reduces anxiety.

Read the full article here:

Why Anxious Customers Prefer Human Customer Service

What would I do?

I think I would target some of my marketing to stress the importance of interacting with real people in an already anxiety-producing situation. I am sure some advertising genius can come up with something that compares making funeral arrangements with Alexa and a real person.

By |2019-04-23T08:30:15-05:00April 22nd, 2019|Blog, CUSTOMERS: Getting and Keeping Them|5 Comments


  1. Craig Kempf April 23, 2019 at 7:30 am - Reply

    I absolutely agree with you Alan. I won’t even hand out a form for family to fill out in advance with biographical information. We lose an opportunity to engage and get to learn there needs. Great article, thanks for sharing!

  2. Scott Anthony Mueller April 23, 2019 at 11:18 am - Reply

    I feel the same way when “customer service” is replaced by a machine algorithm; however, there is a marriage that can be made between all machine and all human. I haven’t found it yet, but I’m still looking.

    Articles like this and comments like yours keep me searching for the right path.

    As always, sincere thanks.

    • Alan Creedy
      Alan Creedy April 23, 2019 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      Scott, I think of it this way. the machine should augment and facilitate the ability of the human to be more productive and do what only humans do. Certainly there is a strong need to use technology for that purpose in funeral service. The belief that a uniquely human need like funerals (or sex for that matter) will be replaced by machines is most likely true for a small part of society.

  3. SHEILA SUDLOW June 24, 2019 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    yes you do need a face to face approach when dealing with funerals especially little babies that sadly passed away

  4. Raymond Aikens July 10, 2019 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    The founder of our firm insisted that a live person answer any call. He was so firm about it that we continue the practice to this day. From two locations, we’ve operated 24/7/365 with a trained person on duty. When you think about it, we could save a lot of money going automated. But as you point out, there is a big difference.

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