Tuesday, June 14, 2016

This is a digital world. Are you embracing it?

This article originally appeared in the April issue of Catholic Cemetery magazine. 

What was the last visit to your doctor’s office like? If you remember your medical records being kept in a big, manila folder and your physician carrying a clipboard, then it’s safe to say it’s been a while. Thanks to the advancements in technology, things have changed dramatically in the past few years. Your doctor can easily review your entire electronic medical record from their computer instead of sifting through papers in a folder. You can schedule appointments and review lab results online. In some parts of the country, you can even have a virtual doctor’s visit from home.

Technology continues to make our lives easier, in the doctor’s office and in the cemetery office. Today, families have come to expect companies to be current with the digital trends and don’t make exceptions for certain industries to have old fashioned practices. Even the post office has caught up by offering enhanced online tracking for your shipments. If you aren’t embracing technology in your cemetery, it’s time.

What do you use to explain memorial options in your cemetery? Are you still flipping through binders with line drawings? Are the sales sheets crisp and colorful or are they fraying at the edges? This binder may have worked well for you in the past, but is it really still the best tool we have?

We should be using graphic wall displays, video slideshows and digital images instead of old fashioned binders that offer families an unrealistic view of the different options of memorials we offer. The families that design memorials today are not the same as the people who designed them twenty, ten or even five years ago. They are living in a digital world where they are surrounded by strong graphics and images daily. They have become accustomed to simplified choices with more options, and it is time our memorial presentations reflect their preferences.

Technology can help you beyond the memorial selection. Cemeteries around the country are using online project management software to communicate with staff about upcoming burials and services and keep track of work orders. New apps help families locate their loved ones’ graves after-hours or on the weekends instead of having to rely on cemetery office hours. Lot cards have gone digital thanks to software that does an even better job of tracking information.

Technology has also revolutionized the manufacturing process for upright and bronze memorials. Instead of hand lettering, we can incorporate full-color photographs with an incredible amount of detail. You can even design a memorial online and approve a digital proof with the family instantly.

Technology has enhanced the way we reach the families we serve as well. Do you remember all of those direct mail campaigns and newspaper ads you did trying to communicate with your communities? We use to rely on the hope that people would buy the newspaper or save our postcards. Now, thanks to smartphones, we can be right in our customers’ pockets. Through social media and email, we can send invitations to events happening at our cemetery, share promotions and even celebrate a holiday. Technology can help us build better relationships with the families we serve.

Are you ready to take the leap and embrace more technology? I know change can be hard. We are creatures of habit. We take comfort in doing things the same way over and over again. We have seen our way work in the past, which makes it harder to believe there’s any reason to change it. But just like your doctor’s office has found new tools and systems to serve you better, there are new ideas and resources that can help you serve families even better.

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