Join the digital revolution

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulation of the funeral plan market has encouraged many funeral directors to transition from a paper funeral plan application to a digital one. Mark Moran, Director of Sales at Golden Charter, discusses the benefits of digital and the support on offer to help its partners make the switch.

Supporting customers to make a funeral plan purchase in a regulated environment has become the norm for many funeral directors now. Our research with customers made it clear that they valued the expertise of their local funeral director hugely. As a result, most of our partners have chosen to act as an appointed representative, which means they take the customer through the entire sales process.

Being an appointed representative gives our partners access to our new digital applications system, which meets the FCA’s requirements and results in the best customer journey when compared to paper, as evidenced by feedback from many of you.

The vast majority of funeral plan applications that we now receive are submitted using our digital applications service and we fully expect that number to continue to grow as funeral directors become ever more familiar with the new system.

Getting it right first time

We’ve made every effort to streamline our paper application process, but regulatory requirements mean that there is some duplication involved. Using a digital application offers a much more efficient process, providing prompts throughout to ensure you cover all of the key discussion points to conduct a compliant sale, and surfacing only the information relevant to the choices the customer makes. The system even prompts the user to print required paperwork or email it straight to the customer, depending on their preference.

The process is regulation-ready and reminds the user to complete any mandatory fields before progressing to the next section. This means it’s less likely that the team member taking the customer through the sales process will need to spend time clarifying any missing details later and eradicating the risk of submitting an obsolete pre-regulation application form. What’s more is that we’ll receive the digital application as soon as you submit it, so it’s ready for processing immediately without potential mailing delays.

“Here at M K Ginder & Sons, we’ve adopted Golden Charter’s digital applications service when setting up funeral plans for customers. Since regulations were introduced at the end of July, the benefits and value are significantly greater than using a paper-based process, with simple steps to follow for both the customer and us as a business, whether face-to-face or via the telephone.

“Fully prepared and automated FCA documentation issued in any preferred format with immediate submission of applications, payment collection, processing and confirmations. All completed in less than half the time if we were using paper, freeing up more time to support families and complete arrangements for other customers. Make the switch, it’s highly recommended!”

David Oliver of M K Ginder & Sons

Doing what’s right for the customer

Using technology to support a funeral plan application allows you to bring the customer along on the purchase journey at every step. Customers are more familiar with using technology every day, with almost all of those considering a funeral plan now using a smartphone or tablet (1). Independent research shows that customers now expect to see businesses using digital systems (2).

Additionally, investing in a tablet computer is a great way to help your team flexibly access our digital application system at your premises, out and about and even in customers’ homes. Most modern iPads or tablets that use Google Chrome and have a screen size around the same length as a ruler will work well. The small initial outlay allows customers to be part of their full funeral plan purchase journey in real time and gives colleagues more time to spend with families.

“I recently visited a family and completed FCA compliant digital applications for two funeral plans using my tablet. I received the plan documentation within a few days. All very easy, professional and efficient. I was so impressed.”

James Tovey of Tovey Bros

Of course, you may be concerned about how easy it is to connect to the internet when you are visiting a customer at home. Well, there are a range of options which can get you online quickly and easily.

You can connect to the internet using the Wi-Fi in a customer’s home, use your mobile phone as a ‘hotspot’, or many tablets have the option to include a SIM card meaning you can connect using the local 4G or 5G network. If you’re looking at purchasing a tablet, or need help setting up a hotspot, your Golden Charter business manager can provide additional guidance.

Helping customers from their homes

Following the completion of a successful pilot programme, we’re starting to make digital plan sales available to our appointed representative partners, making adding digital functionality to your business even easier.

With digital plan sales, your families have the option to complete a funeral plan purchase online from your website at a time that suits them. Get in touch with your business manager to register your interest and join the waiting list.

We’ll support you

If you’ve never used our digital application system before, you’d like a refresher or you have any questions, we hold digital drop-in sessions each week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The sessions vary depending on which plan type you offer.

Anyone who will use the digital application system can join these informal webinars, which will take the form of an interactive walkthrough of the digital sales process. There is plenty of opportunity to ask questions both during and after the walkthrough. Email here to request to join a session.

“Although I had initial hesitations, I have really enjoyed using the new system. My customers also felt it was a very smooth process. The support I have received from my business manager has been second to none and they have really assisted me through this process.

“The digital applications system is very easy to use. FCA guidance is given at every step and helps the customer gain confidence that they are dealing with a trusted and reputable provider. Much clearer and more precise than handwritten application forms.

“It is visible to the customer as the application progresses, and I have found that it is helpful to allow the customer to view the details given as we go through the various stages. It’s also extremely useful to have a running total of ‘live’ plans visible on the portal, and a good search facility.”

Andy Beckwith of Medway Funeral Directors

You can also familiarise yourself with the system prior to submitting your first digital application. Simply activate the training mode on your ‘My Quotes’ page. Just ensure you enter your own email address when filling out a demo application, as the emails will go out as part of the test.

Our appointed representative partners can access our digital application system through Speak to your Golden Charter business manager today or email here to find out more and request support. We’re here to help.

(1) 93% of 500 ‘Attitudes and Intentions’ Tracking Research Wave 6 – May 2022, by James Law Research Associates.

(2) Digital adoption insight – James Law Research Associates, 109 samples, January 2022.

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