Tips for Success

Personal Follow Up is Key to Higher Response Rates

Selected asked a group of members who had high success rates in getting completed Family Follow-Up Survey Program forms back from their families to share the techniques they use. We wanted to know what methods they use to distribute their survey forms to client families, when in the process they distribute them and what they do to encourage families to complete them. Here’s what they told us.

Kurt Edenbach, Memorial Funeral Home

“Getting the surveys back is a very important aspect, and it can be a challenge to know how to best do that. We’ve tried many different things over the years. But what seems to work best is that we give a survey to every family we serve. It is mailed one week after the service. We also explain it to them during the at-need conference. I feel we get a good percentage back. I’m skeptical by nature, and although I appreciate the great scores we receive, I also value any constructive criticism that we can glean. Otherwise, it’s a missed opportunity for education and improvement.”

Tom Morris, Downing & Lahey Mortuary

“Approximately two weeks after the service, we send a handwritten thank-you note. A week after that, a phone call is made to touch base and see if the family has any questions or if there is anything else we can do for them. After the phone call, the survey is sent to the family by mail. I always have felt that our actions in how we take care of a family mean more than words to encourage a response.”

Kathleen Morton, Holloway Funeral Home Professional Association

“Our survey forms, along with a personal letter from myself, are mailed to families two to three weeks following the funeral or completion of our services. First, the family is expecting it. When I make our post-at-need follow up phone calls, I let the next of kin know they will be receiving a survey in the mail from me. I just ask them to fill it out and return it. Second, in the letter that is sent with the survey, I explain its importance in helping us better serve their family and others in the future.”

Stanley Savicki, Robertaccio Funeral Home, Inc.

“Our survey forms are mailed to families within approximately one month of their funeral or cremation services. Our funeral homes management software makes this easy and convenient by addressing each survey to the family representative. We credit our response rate to the relationships our funeral directors establish with client families. Because of this strong relationship, we feel our families have an increased desire to complete and return our surveys. We recently improved the way we introduce the survey during funeral arrangements to hopefully increase our response rate even further and obtain even more helpful information to maintain and improve our firm.”

Larry Schildmeyer Jr., Tufts Schildmeyer Family Funeral Home

“I feel our rate of return for the follow-up surveys is extremely high because our directors present the survey to the family after the funeral, during a follow-up meeting to ensure every detail was met. Survey distribution to our families is about confidence. We have a really good team of people who are confident in the services we have provided and confident for a good survey every time.

“Every survey returned is displayed at the funeral home in an area called What People are Saying. Our team can look at the surveys each month to get feedback. This makes our employees feel important and provides a vote of confidence.

“Recently, we implemented an automated email system that coincides with the Selected survey. If a family member does not want to fill out a hardcopy form, then we trigger an email to that client family two weeks after the funeral.

“Our results are posted to a testimonials page on our website, so visitors can read honest reviews. This helps differentiate us from our competition.”

Pam Sullivan, Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors

“During the arrangement conference, the directors mention that we will be mailing the survey. We wait to mail about 15 days after the service. A cover letter is attached. Possibly waiting the two weeks could be the key. It’s soon enough for them to remember the quality of service and be able to answer honestly but allows enough time for things to have started to settle down for them.”