The way in which we ‘consume’ services has changed considerably in the last decade or so. Many retail experts confidently argue that our expectations of service providers are now at an all-time high, with customers demanding access to a wide range of professionally delivered services every time they make a purchase. Does this theory apply to helping bereaved families as well?
Dealing with the death of a loved one is something that most people may only need to do once or twice in a lifetime, so do they have the same expectations of a funeral director or Will writer as they might of another service provider? Given the number of businesses who are branching out and providing access to a wider range of ‘bereavement services’, the answer appears to be a resounding ‘yes’.
Research suggests that it is now becoming increasingly commonplace for families to turn to their funeral director or Will writer when looking for trusted advice relating to the death of a loved one. While organising the funeral is naturally high on the list of things to be done, this is just the first step of the potentially long and complicated process of dealing with all aspects of someone’s legacy. For example, how does a family deal with the estate of a loved one? What happens to their property, assets or liabilities? Who pays for the funeral costs?
For many families, the thought of dealing with the belongings of their loved one at a time of emotional turmoil is just too much to bear. However, it is a task that has to be done and they will often look to appoint a professional to manage the estate administration process on their behalf. So how should you advise a family that is asking questions about estate administration? It was a position that Geoff Topham, of Staffordshire funeral directors Middleton and Wood, found himself in with increasing regularity.
“Over the last few years, more and more of the families that we organise funerals for have asked us about the next steps that they need to take”, Geoff explains. “In many cases the family are dealing with a death for the first time and are therefore completely unprepared for what they need to do. It became apparent to me that we were the first port of call for many people and that we needed to be able to provide useful advice and refer them to an estate administration specialist that we, and more importantly they, could trust.”
Middleton and Wood saw an opportunity to add value to their service proposition and started working with Kings Court Trust, one of the UK’s leading estate administration specialists. The step of referring their customers to an external business was a big decision and one that Geoff didn’t take lightly.
“Of course there were concerns when we first decided to start referring our families to another company. The relationship with our customers is built upon the quality of our service, so if we recommended them to someone that doesn’t meet those expectations it could be very damaging to our reputation. This is why we did a lot of research and only started working with a partner that we were confident would treat our customers as well as we would”, Geoff says.
“One of the main attractions of Kings Court Trust’s service was that we could direct our families to their free advice line. Many of them don’t know where to start with estate administration, who to speak to or what questions to ask, so being able to refer them to a specialist who can talk them through what they need to consider, without a hard sell, is particularly valuable.”
So how has offering access to an estate administration specialist benefited Middleton and Wood? Mr Topham suggests that it’s a service that families now expect funeral directors to be able to help them understand.
“We have responded directly to the needs of our customers. We’re now able to refer them straightaway to a partner that we trust to deliver a professional service and the feedback we’ve received has been very positive. More importantly from our perspective, it allows us to support our families through the funeral planning process and beyond. Going that extra mile helps to make the process that little bit easier for them and allows us to build a reputation for being more than ‘just’ a funeral director.”
For more information on Kings Court Trust and becoming a business partner, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call our team of estate administration specialists on 0300 303 9000.