Online Customer Reviews and Your Reputation

 By Cassie Dean of Funeral Zone, a Selected Preferred Partner

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to ruin it.”

Benjamin Franklin’s oft-quoted line is as true now as when he said it more than two centuries ago. But in an age when company websites can be so generic that the only point of difference customers can use to distinguish between them is their professional fees, price is what a growing proportion of the public consider when selecting a funeral home to care for their loved one.

Cassie Dean

Cassie Dean

Changing Communities. Traditionally, consumers have always relied on helpful advice from trusted friends and family before making significant purchasing decisions. But word-of-mouth recommendations, which always have been so important to building a funeral home’s reputation, have moved online like everything else. The majority of funeral directors understand the importance of being active in their local community. Yet, as neighborhoods grow and fragment, it is becoming less common for a funeral director to be known personally by everyone. People are increasingly relying on online reviews and recommendations, and this has transformed how people connect with service providers.

Trust and Assurance. The December 2016 Pew Research Center report, Online Shopping and E-Commerce, revealed some fascinating insights into just how important reviews are becoming to the way Americans make purchasing decisions. Significantly, 82% of adults said they “at least sometimes read” online reviews before purchasing items for the first time, including 40% who said they “always or almost always do.” The NFDA says the average person will find themselves planning a funeral “only once or twice in their entire lifetime,” so the majority of funerals are arranged by people doing so for the first time. This emphasizes the importance of publishing reviews of your service online.

Pew Research also found 46% of Americans consider that customer reviews help “a lot” to make them feel confident about their decisions. Assurance is key, with 45% of people feeling that consumer reviews hold companies more accountable to their customers. With confidence being such a critical factor in selecting a funeral home, reviews from other satisfied families who have used their service can be an important factor in an at-need family’s choice. Empathy, compassion, patience and an eye for detail all are essential qualities in a good funeral director and their team. Getting these qualities across to consumers, who may be comparing different funeral homes online by price alone, is challenging. Independent customer reviews provide the opportunity to communicate the strengths that matter to bereaved families because they are written by others with a shared experience.

Don’t Lose Control. It’s understandable to have concerns that someone may maliciously post poor reviews of your service online, which could do irrevocable damage to your reputation. It only takes one, so your reputation must be protected. In association with several experienced and highly-regarded funeral directors, Funeral Zone’s independent customer reviews system was designed to safeguard your reputation. Any reviews with negative feedback are placed in arbitration for 48 hours. This gives the funeral director an opportunity to talk with their client and resolve any concerns they may have. The satisfied customer can then amend their review before it is published. Should they be reluctant to do so, the funeral home is offered a right to reply, which is published at the same time as the review.

This simple process reassures consumers that the reviews are truly independent, whilst giving funeral directors confidence that they still retain a high degree of control over their reputation. Funeral homes that offer high standards of service can use these independent reviews to stand out from the crowd. Of the funeral homes reviewed by bereaved families through Funeral Zone, 90% are awarded five stars. This comes at a time when the funeral profession is under media scrutiny about costs and value.

Negative stories and news reports can be harmful to the reputational integrity of the whole profession. Positive online reviews enable funeral homes to safeguard and grow their reputation. Indeed, they are a five-star opportunity to enhance your prestige for the customer care and good service you’ve built your outstanding reputation on.