Customers Commend Dignity Memorial(TM) in Survey

Apr 19, 2001, 01:00 ET from Service Corporation International

    HOUSTON, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Exceptionally high approval scores
 marked the first year of a North American Customer Satisfaction Survey of
 Dignity Memorial funeral and cremation services, with 98 percent of survey
 respondents willing to recommend such services to others.  Ninety-five percent
 also ranked Dignity Memorial funeral and cremation providers as "excellent" or
 "very good" in terms of the "dignity and professionalism in which the ceremony
 was conducted" and "the attitude and respectfulness of the staff."  The costs
 of goods and services were "lower than expected" or "about as expected," said
 83.5 percent.  Surveys are mailed to families three weeks after funeral or
 cremation services have been conducted; nearly 50 percent respond.
 Principally owned by Service Corporation International (NYSE:   SRV), Dignity
 Memorial is a network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers.
     "We are pleased with the results of our survey, which reflect the
 excellent caliber of those professionals we are fortunate to have as Dignity
 Memorial representatives throughout North America," said Robert L. Waltrip,
 SCI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  "Although Dignity Memorial
 providers received high marks throughout the survey, the complete satisfaction
 of everyone we are privileged to serve is a primary Company focus.  We
 continually strive for 100-percent approval," he added.
     Implemented in February 2000, the Customer Satisfaction Survey is
 conducted by Init Conseil, an independent French company that also directs
 surveys for other global corporations.  Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corp.
 manages North American survey administration.  An estimated 150,000 families
 have responded to the survey since its inception.  The survey asks families to
 measure the service they received from Dignity Memorial providers as
 excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor, and invites written comments.
     Ninety-four percent of survey respondents gave Dignity Memorial staff
 "excellent" or "very good" marks in "courtesy and politeness," having a "kind
 and caring manner" and appropriate dress.  Dignity Memorial providers were
 also "excellent" or "very good" in terms of professionalism, helpfulness and
 execution of service plans, according to 93 percent of survey respondents.
 Physical surroundings were agreeably viewed, with 93 percent rating the
 appearance of viewing facilities as "excellent" or "very good" and 90 percent
 responding the same when asked about the comfort of facilities.
 
     Positive Industry Polls
     While Dignity Memorial providers have indeed earned distinguished marks
 among consumers, the general public appears to also favorably view the entire
 funeral, cremation and cemetery industry.  In a 2000 Wirthlin Worldwide
 survey, for example, 69 percent of the 1,000 adults polled gave the industry
 positive ratings.  The McLean, Va., polling organization noted in its related
 report that a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative comments is considered healthy
 for a typical industry; in contrast, ratings for the funeral and cemetery
 industry equaled a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments.  Funeral
 directors also received commendatory marks in a 2000 Gallup poll, where they
 ranked among the top 15 professions in terms of honesty and ethics.  According
 to 1,028 adults surveyed late last year, funeral directors possessed higher
 standards of honesty and ethics than business executives, building
 contractors, journalists, real estate agents and insurance salesmen.
 
     The BBB: A Dearth of Complaints
     The industry also shines in the area of consumer satisfaction, as
 evidenced by the 1999 ranking of Better Business Bureau complaint statistics,
 which encompasses all complaints lodged during the year with the 130 bureaus
 of the United States.  Franchised automobile dealers accumulated the highest
 number of complaints, with 17,686 grievances reported in 1999.  Computer
 dealers were the subject of the second-highest number of complaints, followed
 by home furnishing stores, auto repair businesses, shopping services, general
 contractors, used car dealers, telephone companies, business opportunities and
 banks.  "Funeral-related services" appeared way, way down the list ?- a total
 of 197 complaints placed them 298th in the ranking, reflecting fewer
 complaints than hunting clubs, retail pet suppliers, video production services
 and pet grooming services.  "Funeral directors" received a total of
 149 complaints, which placed them 345th in the ranking.  To put it in
 perspective, funeral directors across the United States were the subject of
 fewer BBB complaints in 1999 than drywall contractors and consignment shops.
 Finally, 65 cemetery-related complaints and two complaints regarding
 "cremation services" were lodged with the BBB that year.  Total industry-
 related complaints equaled 413 for 1999, a year when nearly 2.4 million deaths
 (2,396,000, to be exact) were reported in the United States.  Statistically
 speaking, that equals approximately one complaint per 5,800 deaths.
 
     What the U.S. Government Says
     Consumers may complain to organizations other than the BBB, however, a
 fact that was considered in a 1999 U.S. General Accounting Office report about
 funeral-related industries.  GAO, which functions as an investigational arm of
 the Congress, nevertheless reported, "... the number of complaints about the
 funeral industry was generally low compared to complaints about other types of
 consumer issues."  In reference to FTC Funeral Rule compliance, an area that
 holds potential for customer dissatisfaction, the GAO noted: "A GAO analysis
 of a limited sample of funeral homes found that compliance was indeed high for
 the rule's core requirement -- giving customers itemized price lists early in
 their meetings with funeral home staff ..."
 
      Contact:  Donna Pate / Corporate Communications   (713) 525-9023.
 
 

SOURCE Service Corporation International
    HOUSTON, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Exceptionally high approval scores
 marked the first year of a North American Customer Satisfaction Survey of
 Dignity Memorial funeral and cremation services, with 98 percent of survey
 respondents willing to recommend such services to others.  Ninety-five percent
 also ranked Dignity Memorial funeral and cremation providers as "excellent" or
 "very good" in terms of the "dignity and professionalism in which the ceremony
 was conducted" and "the attitude and respectfulness of the staff."  The costs
 of goods and services were "lower than expected" or "about as expected," said
 83.5 percent.  Surveys are mailed to families three weeks after funeral or
 cremation services have been conducted; nearly 50 percent respond.
 Principally owned by Service Corporation International (NYSE:   SRV), Dignity
 Memorial is a network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers.
     "We are pleased with the results of our survey, which reflect the
 excellent caliber of those professionals we are fortunate to have as Dignity
 Memorial representatives throughout North America," said Robert L. Waltrip,
 SCI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  "Although Dignity Memorial
 providers received high marks throughout the survey, the complete satisfaction
 of everyone we are privileged to serve is a primary Company focus.  We
 continually strive for 100-percent approval," he added.
     Implemented in February 2000, the Customer Satisfaction Survey is
 conducted by Init Conseil, an independent French company that also directs
 surveys for other global corporations.  Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corp.
 manages North American survey administration.  An estimated 150,000 families
 have responded to the survey since its inception.  The survey asks families to
 measure the service they received from Dignity Memorial providers as
 excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor, and invites written comments.
     Ninety-four percent of survey respondents gave Dignity Memorial staff
 "excellent" or "very good" marks in "courtesy and politeness," having a "kind
 and caring manner" and appropriate dress.  Dignity Memorial providers were
 also "excellent" or "very good" in terms of professionalism, helpfulness and
 execution of service plans, according to 93 percent of survey respondents.
 Physical surroundings were agreeably viewed, with 93 percent rating the
 appearance of viewing facilities as "excellent" or "very good" and 90 percent
 responding the same when asked about the comfort of facilities.
 
     Positive Industry Polls
     While Dignity Memorial providers have indeed earned distinguished marks
 among consumers, the general public appears to also favorably view the entire
 funeral, cremation and cemetery industry.  In a 2000 Wirthlin Worldwide
 survey, for example, 69 percent of the 1,000 adults polled gave the industry
 positive ratings.  The McLean, Va., polling organization noted in its related
 report that a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative comments is considered healthy
 for a typical industry; in contrast, ratings for the funeral and cemetery
 industry equaled a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments.  Funeral
 directors also received commendatory marks in a 2000 Gallup poll, where they
 ranked among the top 15 professions in terms of honesty and ethics.  According
 to 1,028 adults surveyed late last year, funeral directors possessed higher
 standards of honesty and ethics than business executives, building
 contractors, journalists, real estate agents and insurance salesmen.
 
     The BBB: A Dearth of Complaints
     The industry also shines in the area of consumer satisfaction, as
 evidenced by the 1999 ranking of Better Business Bureau complaint statistics,
 which encompasses all complaints lodged during the year with the 130 bureaus
 of the United States.  Franchised automobile dealers accumulated the highest
 number of complaints, with 17,686 grievances reported in 1999.  Computer
 dealers were the subject of the second-highest number of complaints, followed
 by home furnishing stores, auto repair businesses, shopping services, general
 contractors, used car dealers, telephone companies, business opportunities and
 banks.  "Funeral-related services" appeared way, way down the list ?- a total
 of 197 complaints placed them 298th in the ranking, reflecting fewer
 complaints than hunting clubs, retail pet suppliers, video production services
 and pet grooming services.  "Funeral directors" received a total of
 149 complaints, which placed them 345th in the ranking.  To put it in
 perspective, funeral directors across the United States were the subject of
 fewer BBB complaints in 1999 than drywall contractors and consignment shops.
 Finally, 65 cemetery-related complaints and two complaints regarding
 "cremation services" were lodged with the BBB that year.  Total industry-
 related complaints equaled 413 for 1999, a year when nearly 2.4 million deaths
 (2,396,000, to be exact) were reported in the United States.  Statistically
 speaking, that equals approximately one complaint per 5,800 deaths.
 
     What the U.S. Government Says
     Consumers may complain to organizations other than the BBB, however, a
 fact that was considered in a 1999 U.S. General Accounting Office report about
 funeral-related industries.  GAO, which functions as an investigational arm of
 the Congress, nevertheless reported, "... the number of complaints about the
 funeral industry was generally low compared to complaints about other types of
 consumer issues."  In reference to FTC Funeral Rule compliance, an area that
 holds potential for customer dissatisfaction, the GAO noted: "A GAO analysis
 of a limited sample of funeral homes found that compliance was indeed high for
 the rule's core requirement -- giving customers itemized price lists early in
 their meetings with funeral home staff ..."
 
      Contact:  Donna Pate / Corporate Communications   (713) 525-9023.
 
 SOURCE  Service Corporation International

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