the business of death: how companies should talk to the grieving

When your person dies, it’s not just the funeral that needs to be worked out – there’s the whole administrative task of closing their accounts, or transferring service to another person. Calling customer service to shut off your person’s cell phone is a horrible task, and it’s one non-grieving people often aren’t aware of.

People die every day, but companies don’t usually have policies in place for dealing with death. In corporate responses to death, poor service is the norm, not the exception. Ineffective and insensitive responses from customer service reps don’t just affect those making the calls. They have real-world effects on businesses: grieving family members are likely to share their negative experience in online reviews, and in their own social networks. Bad news travels fast, and cruel or indifferent treatment from a service department is definitely not good for business.

Is there a way businesses might get better at this?

I get into this and more in my latest article at the Harvard Business Review. Click this link to read the entire piece, How to Talk to a Grieving Customer.

Share your stories of customer service after your person died - the good, the bad, & the neutral. Your stories help companies learn to do better & they help other grieving folks feel less alone. Lets start a story thread. Click To Tweet

These kinds of real-life stories are exactly what we share inside the Writing Your Grief course. No advice, no platitudes, just the truth of your own experience. Being allowed to tell the truth changes things. Somehow, sharing the truth about these administrative details of death helps – it can make things better, even when they can’t be made right.

Losing a loved one is so painful and isolating. To the newly bereaved, even the smallest, most mundane actions take on added weight. A few kind words, a compassionate response, may be all it takes to make an impossible situation that much easier. You might forget lot as your life moves forward from those brutal early days, but you’ll always remember how certain companies treated you. All it takes is one kind response to change everything.

Be sure to read (and share!) (and comment on!) the original article at the Harvard Business Review, here.

How about you? What’s your experience with the customer service aspects of death and grief? Your stories help me know what to tell the businesses and corporations I work with, AND they help other grieving people know they aren’t alone. After you’ve read the Harvard Business essay, share your experience in the comments and when you share this post in your social networks. You can post your comment here AND on the HBR article itself. That will help spread the word, and get the conversation started.

We’ve got a long way to go to get the entire culture up to speed on the realities of grief. Our Patreon community is helping to shift the cultural conversation, and we’d love to have you. Patrons get all the videos, audio interviews, meditations – and the inside scoop – before anyone else. Pop over to the home of the Grief Revolution to join us.