Improve your business partnerships by giving your customers the tools they need to serve their customers. Aurora Casket Company, a $90-million, 750-employee coffin manufacturer, based in Aurora, Ind., developed a laptop computer presentation to make it easier for funeral directors and bereaved families to plan funeral arrangements -- right at home.

The self-paced computer program contains descriptions and pictures of caskets, urns, vaults, monuments, flower arrangements, clothing for the deceased, visitation options, and other funeral details. When all choices have been made, the total price for the funeral is displayed, so customers can review the itemized costs and alter selections if needed.

Aurora customizes the presentation for its larger customers -- funeral directors -- to show their customers the range of options available to them. "As a service to funeral directors, we include information on competitors' caskets," says Christina Kent, customer service manager. A side benefit for Aurora is insight into what customers like about competitors' products.

The laptop presentation provides a service for both families and funeral directors. "Consumers can find it traumatic to view caskets in a funeral home," says Kent, "so a computer selection process in the consumer's home is a more appealing option. The more consumers are informed about their choices, the better they feel about their decisions."

Aurora and its funeral directors are pleased with the results. Unit sales at funeral homes that make full use of the software have increased 10%. "Helping customers build their businesses is a good way to build our own," says Kent.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing