One of the largest funeral providers in the UK have announced they’ll be putting prices on their website for the first time. Dignity, who represent 12% of the funeral industry and describe themselves as “the UK’s premium funeral provider” have pledged that by January 2019, all their 810 branches will have a local website displaying local services and prices.
This is great news for bereaved people trying to find a funeral within their means.
When the Fair Funerals campaign began in 2014, only around 10% of funeral directors had prices on their website. This presented a big problem for bereaved people, especially those on low incomes. Funerals are expensive – the cost has more than doubled since 2004. But having to speak to different companies and explain your situation can be daunting when you’ve lost someone you love.
Being able to check prices online before contacting a company allows people to consider their options before committing themselves emotionally and financially.
That’s why in 2016, as part of our Fair Funerals pledge we began calling for funeral directors to put their prices online.
This month the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), who represent 80% of the funeral industry, announced that a third of their members had prices online, and another third are planning to introduce them in the near future.
It’s great news that the funeral industry are beginning to embrace digital advancements and respond to the demand for online transparency. When they asked the public in 2016, the NAFD found that 85% of the people they asked would like funeral prices to be available online.
Simon Cox, Head of External Affairs at Dignity, said:
“We recognise that our customers are increasingly turning to the internet for help and information on funeral arrangements when a loved one dies. To satisfy our customers’ evolving needs we are committed to making an increasing number of services available online, which is part of our ambition to improve quality and standards across the industry.
“In line with this, we have recently launched an online funeral notice service to allow customers to make and share their funeral arrangements across social media. Our web experts are currently working hard to deliver bespoke sites for our funeral directors, including clearly listing our prices online up and down the country. This is a big change for us, but work is well underway with an ambition to be complete by January 2019.”
It’s not clear yet how Dignity will display prices on their websites. One challenge facing funeral directors is how to display third party costs, such as cremation fees or the cost of a minister, which funeral directors don’t control and which vary substantially according to provider.
Currently Co-op Funeralcare display third party fees as an average figure. But there are clearly huge opportunities for digital innovation in how funeral companies communicate prices to the public via their websites. Some smaller companies such as Evelyn’s Funerals have already created price calculators. You can select, for instance, the crematorium and type of coffin you want to use and a price will be generated.
Let’s hope that over the next few years we’ll see some creative, interactive solutions from the funeral industry to how they communicate prices digitally.