Where did customer service go?

jeffk's picture


Whenever a family member or good friend passes away, it always seems that I am leaned on heavily to make sure the service runs smooth from start to finish.  People just expect that there is a written "professional courtesy" among death care providers.  I have in the past  dropped subtle hints at various funeral homes and cemeteries that are performing services for close friends and family but never in bad taste.  If the family is confused, emotionally drained or simply ignorant I will try to get involved and discuss solutions/options with the FSC or Director.  I personally feel that the funeral home/cemetery operator will feel a little more comfortable dealing with somebody familiar with the process than having to try and explain why something does not look right, feel right or the fear of being taken advantage of (thanks to some rotten apples in our industry and the media) to a grieving family member.  I have never had an issue until yesterday.
I was actually attending a funeral for a co-worker on Thursday and the location of the service just happened to be operated by a good friend of mine  who has been involved with the ICCFA for many years.  I placed a call to him just as a heads up and he replied "don't worry about a thing...My staff will make sure that everything runs smooth".  The funny thing is, I was not calling because I had any worries, I was just calling to let him know I would be at his cemetery!  Well, everything went smooth and his staff was as professional as ever...and from what I have heard, this is an everyday experience for anyone having a service at his cemetery.  While I was at the service, my wife called and told me her 97 year old grandfather had just passed away that morning and that she was having difficulty getting the combo cemetery that he had preplanned with to come to the house and pick him up.  I told her that I would try and take care of it via cell phone.  This is where the unnecessary problems started to compound!
I called the main number and a not so pleasant person was asking me how I would like my call directed.  It was at this moment I decided not to mention what I do for a living.  My response back to her was that I would like to speak with someone about picking up my grandfather who has passed away at his home which is three miles from your facility and he has preplanned the whole shebang.  Instead of the reply I was expecting which would be something like just a moment sir, I will track someone down who will gladly assist you, I instead received no reply and was immediately transferred to someone’s voice mail. I left a message with ? I don’t know because I couldn’t make out the name on the message header. As the wonderful service ended that I was attending, I spent my 2 hour drive home trying to talk with a live person at the other cemetery. No luck! I asked my wife to have her father drive to the cemetery and make arrangements for his father’s removal in person. He called me from the cemetery (here is the leaning issue from above) and was completely outraged that they would not be able to meet with him until the next morning at precisely 10:30AM. I advised him to go back in and explain that your father is lying in bed deceased and would like someone to at least come and remove the body.


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