The human impact of technology is closer than you think

  • Posted on November 4, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

It’s the call in the middle of the night that we all dread: someone we love has passed away. 

The death of a loved one – whether expected or sudden—triggers an entire process that sees grieving families make more than 150 decisions in the first 24 hours. Everything from type of funeral service to casket and cremation options, from logistics to flowers and so much more.

Until recently, this decision-making process been a manually intensive and time-consuming experience adding stress to what is already a difficult time for both funeral home employees and the families they serve. 

Houston-based Service Corporation International (SCI)—the leading funeral services provider in North America—envisioned a better way to help their families navigate the funeral planning process. SCI—which owns and operates a network of more than 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries across North America under the Dignity Memorial® brand—believed that digital technologies would provide more personalized experience. SCI’s vision was to enable families to be able to focus on celebrating their loved ones while SCI employees took care of everything else.

Together, SCI and Avanade partnered to take a fresh look at how funeral planning could be more innovative and user-friendly while eliminating all the manual paperwork that has traditionally been part of the process. 

Bringing together a team from across the business including Advisory, Digital Studios and our Advanced Technology Centers, Avanade looked at every part of SCI’s funeral planning process from the employee and customer point-of-view. From that work, we created a comprehensive set of recommendations for how we could build a more modern workplace and a compelling customer experience

We helped transform SCI’s employee and customer experiences in three ways: helping people more easily make arrangements for their own funeral services ahead of time; ensuring better communication and collaboration among SCI counselors during the funeral arrangement process; and providing a better way to educate families on their options.

While technology served as the foundation for SCI’s better employee and customer experiences, it wasn’t technology for technology’s sake. At every step of the way, we’ve ensured that the people involved in the process of planning a funeral are in the center of every step in the journey. 

Gone are the days of three-ring binders full of brochures and paper contracts. SCI counselors have at their fingertips the technology needed to facilitate the entire funeral planning process consistently and compassionately—whether it be in a family’s home or at one of their funeral homes. More importantly, SCI counselors have more time to help families during the initial stages of the grieving process and SCI has an innovative path forward for how it will care for its employees and families. 

In addition to the framework we built for SCI, we also helped the company create a new web presence built on the Sitecore platform. This new platform enables SCI to share information much more efficiently with families looking to find Dignity Memorial® locations; learn about the arrangement process; and get answers to initial questions. (This new site, by the way, was recently given an honorable mention in the Sitecore Experience awards for 2018). 

This partnership with SCI over the years has been one of the most personally rewarding experiences of my career.  The human impact we’ve made, not just on SCI employees, but on the families they serve is real and visible every day. 

And best of all, this partnership demonstrates how technology isn’t really about the cool new app or the latest digital technology: it’s about the power to completely transform even the most difficult experience so that the people behind each one of those middle-of-the-night phone calls can focus on what matters most. 

Learn more about SCI’s long-term partnership with Avanade to develop innovative, digital solutions to improve the funeral planning process.

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