Where did customer service go part 2

jeffk's picture


Part 2
When he went back inside, they told him that it would be a while before someone could speak with him about the removal and wanted to know if he had all of the signed paperwork regarding the preneed contract for his father because the FSC who will be assigned will not be able to do anything without it. Now, let me get this straight – the front counter receptionist is now telling my grieving father-in-law to sit down and wait and also telling him that nobody will do anything until he produces documents regarding the preneed contract? Am I missing something here? He needs to produce documents that the cemetery has in their possession? How about this for an answer – Sir -  first of all, I would like to express my sympathy for the loss of your father. At this moment, all of our FSC’s are meeting with families at this moment however I will let them know you are out here waiting and we will make sure that someone comes out to meet with you so we can take care of your father. Sir, would it be too much trouble to get your father’s name so I can look up his file? This will help expedite the process so we can attend to your father and finalize what we need to do so we can remove him and bring him here.
You would think that the receptionist would be trained as a first call specialist with maybe a one hour grief class and some training on first impression. Not at this location. Later that night, he was finally picked up without having to produce original docs and brought back to the cemetery/funeral home. Unfortunately, he was lying in his bed for approx 12 hours before being removed. There only statement regarding the extended delay was that they were short handed. Come on, at least say it differently. 
We attended the Rosary last night for him and all seemed to run smoother. I did however get to physically see the 2 receptionists at their finest. I stood just outside the chapel near the front entrance and just listened to the conversations with other families either on the phone or as they walked in the facility. I can tell you now that my father-in-law was not exaggerating with the attitude. I could not believe what I was hearing from these two ladies. After hanging up with a family, they would comment on how rude the family member was to THEM on the phone. They complained to each other loud enough so that people in the waiting room (btw, a popular place due to allegedly being short staffed) could hear. First impression of our business is who ever the family encounters first people! I just stood there in my suit and listened in amazement knowing that here was the problem that started the problems. Funny thing, as I was standing there, another chapel was being used and a family member walked up to me and asked where the restroom was. I looked at the receptionists who were clearly looking at me to see if I knew where they were. I waited to see if they were going to answer that question for the nice lady and when they did not answer, I told the lady I was not sure, but would walk with her to find it. I guess it is not their job to advise where the restrooms are located.
The rosary went smooth and the attendant assigned to our chapel was outstanding. I was so happy with the attendant that I felt as if I should have given him a tip! The only thing wrong with that feeling is that I should have come to just expect good caring customer service from everyone in that facility. Too bad the receptionists actions caused me to feel really good inside when someone just did their job professionally.   More to follow when we have the interment on Friday. For those of you who are doing the math, yes the interment is taking place 8 days after the first call. Another issue.


judyfaaberg's picture

Jeff, your passionate description of this unfolding situation is like reading a cliff-hanger, honestly! (Do you write mystery fiction?)

However, I'm sad to say I've encountered similar things myself, though, thank goodness, not very often at funeral homes or cemeteries. Too many companies in general think of the receptionist as the minimum-wage nobody who just answers the phone. au contraire! He or she is vital to the whole operation. While you're in a rather delicate position as a funeral director and competitor (I assume), perhaps someone in the family or a friend could contact the manager and relay the situation to him or her. Owners tend to be pretty far-removed from their front-line lower-wage-earners in a lot of cases. When I've encountered this kind of thing I've done this, and the owner or manager was grateful to be told about it.

I hope the interment goes well!

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP

Sorry to hear about your family's loss and about this horrible customer service, Jeff. Hope things improve for you by Friday.

On a lighter note, tonight I was searching for some felt in a local fabric store and finally asked a woman leaning against the customer service counter where I might find it. "It's in that corner," she said, waving toward the back of the store. I stewed over her lack of helpfulness as I scoured the corner of the store for a solid five minutes before locating the five bolts of felt tucked away amongst dozens of other types of fabrics.

After selecting the color I wanted, I went back to the front of the store and approached the same woman. "I've found the felt," I said. "Can you help me cut it?"

She rolled her eyes and said, "I don't work here."


Linda Budzinski

...about that company. Customer service can be a hard thing to pull off if the relevant employees are not naturally inclined to it, either because of the way they were raised or because they lack common sense re: where their paycheck really comes from.

The type of behavior you are describing strikes me as symptomatic of many businesses. Like those places I've seen a few of that have the "You want it WHEN?" sign with drawings of people convulsed with laughter on the wall in the backroom. The basic attitude is "our procedures and convenience are sacrosanct and the customer better fall in line".

From the gas company or the electric being treated like dirt seems normal enough because, hey, they have monopolies, they can do whatever they want. For the vast majority of businesses, though, the customer has a choice not to come back. It sounds like the future of that combo is not bright unless they happen to be the only property in town. (And it sounds like whatever competition they have has a huge opportunity).

Whoever is managing that place, needless to say, has some issues.

Condolences to you and Linda and the whole family, and sorry you had to go through that extra layer of difficulties. I think your writing about it here will remind everyone how important it is to be aware of the customer service mindset of the front-line employees.