This post won’t help those of you who run a one-person funeral home, but the rest of you can benefit from finalizing your Christmas on-call list right now.

I’ve heard a lot of stories about Christmas responsibilities, but my favorite is how one corporate cluster of funeral homes (15 locations) puts one funeral director on call for all of Christmas day.  And they used to delegate it by whoever didn’t have kids!

As a childless person, I think it’s pretty rude to assume that I’d want to take on so much responsibility just so Fred and Martha can spend all day with their families.  And putting one person in charge of so many funeral homes can cause some serious issues.

Imagine, for a moment, that your loved one dies on Christmas morning.  Added to the regular stress and grief of a death is the knowledge that a presumably joyous day is now one of sorrow.  Then, imagine that you can’t get through to someone at the funeral home or are forced to wait for a return call because only one person is available to handle all the issues that are generated by so many locations.

I think it’s pretty clear that this plan is a recipe for bad customer service.

In fact, I think I’d make sure that every one of my directors is taking any urgent calls about their own firm.  This might mean more work for the answering service, but it also ensures that anyone who takes the time to make a phone call to the funeral home on Christmas Day is accommodated.

Let’s face it:  there are relatively few sickos or bored people who will call on Christmas Day.  Even folks who don’t celebrate the holiday will still realize that it’s a special day and that your staff won’t be around.  So it’s safe to say that most of the calls received on Christmas Day are going to be important.

If you do delegate some responsibility to other staff members to answer calls and dispatch removal crews, make sure that you stagger the hours of responsibility.  Your employees will do a better job of serving your clients if they know they only have to cover the phones until noon or that you’re going to take the calls all morning so they can spend uninterrupted time with their kids and family.