Funeral directors are tasked with the arduous responsibility of planning funerals alongside vulnerable family members who are enduring a time of significant stress and grief.\r\n\r\nThey face the tough balancing act of supporting bereaved family members and loved ones throughout the process, as well as juggling the preferences for the deceased with often demanding time pressures and insufficient information.\r\n\r\nFunerals are a celebration of life and offer the bereaved a start along the journey towards closure and peace. This adds to the tremendous pressure on funeral directors to meet grand expectations for the bereaved to bid the deceased a final farewell.\r\n\r\nEverest, the UK\u2019s first funeral concierge service, providing help and advice in conjunction with MetLife, entered the UK market in October this year to ease the funeral planning process for both bereaved individuals and funeral directors.\r\n\r\nAs part of the new arrangement, MetLife\u2019s Group Life customers will be able to access end-of-life planning services and support to help their families in the event of their death. This includes finding the right funeral director to plan a bespoke funeral for those making difficult financial and emotional decisions.\r\n\r\nEverest\u2019s \u201cDealing with Death\u201d Report, published last month, found that many people felt poorly supported throughout the process of funeral planning.\r\n\r\nWhy is there lack of support around funeral planning?\r\n\r\nOnly half (53%) of those who used a funeral service provider felt that they offered sufficient guidance throughout the planning process.\r\n\r\nThe vast majority were offered insufficient support beyond basic logistics. It is striking to see how little clarity there is over the total cost of funerals. In theory, this should be the first port of call. Yet next of kin generally enter the funeral planning process blind as to what they are paying for.\r\n\r\nThis problem is not rare and is depleting coffers. Almost two in five people had to dig into their own savings because the deceased had failed to make provisions ahead of time.\r\n\r\nHowever, the scenario manifested very differently for those who pre-arranged their funeral. Next of kin were less affected by the burden of high funeral fees along with an understanding of the wishes of their loved one.\r\n\r\nSo how can funeral directors provide greater support around funeral planning? Saving time for funeral directors and their clients should make funeral planning easier.\r\n\r\nHere are a few ways funeral directors can make the process easier.\r\n\r\nOptimise your website\r\n\r\nThe process of finding the right funeral director is the first crucial challenge. On average, roughly 600,000 funerals take place in a year in the UK. But shockingly one in four people are still having to rely on family and friends to find a funeral service provider. Only one in ten people conducted comparisons between providers when choosing a funeral director. Optimising social media channels and keeping a robust website, should increase funeral homes\u2019 reach.\r\n\r\nRegularly updating pricing information\r\n\r\nA lack of clarity around the cost of using a funeral director can make it harder for next of kin to make this difficult financial decision during a time of stress and grief. People are often faced with a blank canvas at the beginning of the planning process, with some funeral directors offering little guidance on the price of individual elements, or an estimate as to what the entire service might cost. There is some evidence that the final invoice was the only source of clarity. Regularly updating pricing information should in theory make the use of price comparison websites more commonplace for those choosing a funeral service provider.\r\n\r\nCollaborate with families\r\n\r\nCollaborating with families is paramount. In an increasingly globalised world, immediate family members can reside across the globe. Yet, they all may want to participate in the funeral planning process. Connecting with immediate family members over some digitised platform \u2013 such as Zoom or WhatsApp \u2013 at the start of the process can prevent miscommunication and having to undo any decisions once processes are already underway.\r\n\r\nUse a platform or an intermediary to streamline data\r\n\r\nFuneral directors are well aware of the heavy pile of paperwork they require clients to fill out in order for a funeral to take place. Keeping on top of that admin is tiresome for both the funeral director and for next of kin organising the funeral. Using a platform to streamline data entry can save precious time for funeral directors. Equally, next of kin often struggle to keep up with funeral admin.\r\n\r\nEncouraging your clients to use an intermediary such as a funeral concierge can ensure next of kin are better equipped to handle important affairs right after a death of a loved one. The more clients keeping abreast of funeral admin, makes it more likely that next of kin can share any information specific to funeral wishes more quickly with funeral directors.\r\n\r\nDeath is a natural progression of life. Loathe it, or accept it, but one cannot escape mortality. Funeral directors can only take measures to make the process less taxing on next of kin planning the funeral. The proposed measures are therefore of mutual benefit to both funeral directors and their clients to have a smoother experience.