Funeral director Ryan Tessier

I’m Ryan, a funeral director working under the Chichester and Littlehampton care centres in Sussex.

After starting as a funeral arranger in 2014, four years later I’m one of our youngest funeral directors. I came through the Co-op Apprenticeship scheme and think it’s fantastic how Co-op has helped me progress.

When I first found out about Co-op Guardian – a digital service that will transform the way we do funerals, giving us time back to spend with families  – I knew it would be a game changer for the funeral industry.

I’m all for innovation. I think if you’re not moving forwards, you’re doing something wrong.

Saving money in our Support Centre has allowed Co-op to invest in making things better in funeral homes. The investment is money well spent by Co-op in my opinion.

Currently there’s no funeral provider that has anything on the scale of what we’re doing. It’s certainly a step towards Funeralcare leading the market – which is a part of our Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities ambition.

Working with Co-op Digital

Recently I was given the opportunity to work in the Support Centre for 12 weeks as part of the team who’ve worked on designing and building Guardian.

The brilliant thing about this service is Co-op Digital have built it with Funeralcare colleagues who’ve given their feedback every step of the way.

A lot of the team aren’t from funeral backgrounds so me and a few others are here as subject matter experts. I’m loving the experience of working in such a dynamic team – it’s a great example of working as one Co-op.

The system will never be finished – we’ll always be making improvements – which keeps it relevant and up to date. Colleagues are giving lots of feed back on improvements constantly and updates are made at least twice a week.

How it’s made our jobs easier

It’s connected more funeral homes in our region. If you go on Guardian you can see what’s happening across a much wider area than your own.

If you’re a mobile arranger moving from branch to branch it’s fantastic because you’ve got access to everywhere. Gone are the days when you’re covering one branch and have left the paperwork on a deceased person in another branch.

All that info is in the system, in one place, for all colleagues to see – it’s just seamless.

Also when we’re on call, rather than having this big wad of paper we have to trawl through, we can find stuff at the touch of a button.

It’s revolutionary. Using tablets has changed the way we arrange funerals. It helps us paint this picture of a deceased person – what we’re going to do for them, how we can best look after them, how we can personalise the experience and their journey through our care.

There was always going to be some resistance to it at first because it’s a different way of doing things, but it’s already starting to feel normal.

The roll-out of Guardian is happening right now and we’re hoping to have all regions live by the end of 2018 – that’s our target.

The longer people use Guardian, the more comfortable they’ll become, and we’ll achieve our ultimate aim of having more time with families.

Ryan Tessier
Funeral Director, Sussex

Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. @ryan. The comments below are well meant and from the heart. I know that you are an advocate of the system and as stated before, in my eyes colleagues like yourself are compete stars, however can you ensure that the comments from your valued colleagues are shared with the management team.

  2. very good comments ryan an fso in a rural region often problems with internet connections and guardian crashing ..I agree that the coop has to move forward but the system is good but could be easier to navigate but when having problems like we have had here it can make our job twice as long as soon as these glitches are sorted out I agree will you hopefully guardian will make our job easier at the moment in this region for me personally and a few other it is not making our job easier.

  3. Hey all,
    I haven’t had any issues when arranging using the tablet, you’re not expected to be absolutely glued to it no more than you ever sat face down in a piece of paper. The eye contact, care, patience and guidance is all still there, you’re just typing rather than writing!
    This new technology does not invalidate us as colleagues, it gives us more information at our fingertips which I think is invaluable.

  4. Carol and Katie, I am 100% with you. When I was engaging with my local funeral provider, this one was an independent family business What helped me and my family was the experience, compassion, sympathy, calmness and trust gained. This was gained by a person to me and my family face to face. I have no idea what these tablets are going to be used for but if a device of any type had have been used whilst we were discussing with the family our needs for the order of service and cremation we would all have been most upset. That compassion, eye contact, sympathy for me would be lost in the click of a button. Technology is so important to us as a business, This leaves me nervous.

    • I fully agree. I have also worked for funeralcare for 15 years and there has been many changes over this time. These have been brought to the fore during the update of the data protection act and us having to dispose of anything over 7 years old. How the collection of information has mushroomed in recent years and the completion and signing of forms is incredible and I do understand that a lot of this is necessary. I have arranged funerals with elderly people who refer to the lack of communication with their grandchildren as they always seem to have a mobile in their hand and now we are being asked to sit and arrange the funeral of their loved one in the same way. Is that really progress in how we arrange funerals? Is this really what is going to give us more time with families? I don’t think so. After recently loosing my own Mum I know that I would have been most disturbed by someone tapping away on a tablet/laptop. Are they really bothered about my Mum and my experience?
      I don’t have a problem with moving forward but at what pace and with what effect on our families really does matter. In my opinion, which I think is becoming more irrelevant every day, eye to eye contact, chat, discussion, showing I care and even a cup of tea is what brings people back to us for future business whether its funerals or plans,not taping away on an impersonal tablet/laptop. The information can be inputted later because our personal contact is what matters most to the client and their family. I love or should it be loved my job, I’m not sure at the moment. I am very uneasy and unsettled and no longer look forward to coming to work because of what might change or happen next.

    • Katie, Carol and ‘Transparent’ I completely agree with everything you’ve all said.

      Taking up where ‘Transparent’ left off I did a little experiment of my own around the table at Sunday lunch with my family ranging from 25 years old to 79 years old. I asked them how they would feel if a funeral director arranged the funeral of their loved one on a tablet.
      The words they used were ‘impersonal’, ‘cold’ and ‘very business-like’ !

      I can see the advantages of the guardian system for CLM’s and their teams and for ‘back of house’ for example identification, booking in & out, on call, transfers etc… but I have concerns that we will come across as cold and business-like when doing funeral arrangements with a family who have just lost a loved one and are upset and need sympathy, eye contact and the personal touch which can only be given face to face.

  5. Katie
    You could have taken the words out of my mouth, I’ve worked here 15 years but not sure how I’ll get on with the new guardian. I feel this has been thrust upon us. I could say before hand on heart I loved my job and felt like part of the Coop family. Now I’m just a number.

  6. It was interesting to read the review of Guardian and the following comments. Firstly I would just like to say that I am not resisting change or innovation, I am merely expressing my opinion and feelings regarding all the up coming changes to the way we work. I must disagree that the tablets and the Guardian system will improve the quality of an arrangement by helping families see what we will do for them and their loved one, I strongly believe that the only way to gain the trust and confidence of a family during a an arrangement is from using your interpersonal skills that come from within. These are qualities that cannot be taught or bought, so maybe more investment in the staff themselves alongside new technology would benefit families more.
    I fail to be able to see how a new internal system and technological advances will put funeralcare as market leader, when families are looking at various funeral providers they are searching for value for money, caring staff, and a high standard through out the entire process. They do not ask what type of system are we running and what level of technology do we use! If we cannot provide a high quality service at a reasonable price then all the new innovations will be surplus to requirements as we will have no funerals to use them on.
    Winston Churchill said “A Nation who forgets its past has no future” I believe this is true for business especially funeralcare as we should be looking at the things that worked well in our past and use the valuable experiences of long serving colleagues to learn from mistakes to help make funeralcare stronger in the future. In case anyone is making any assumptions I have only been working in funeralcare for 4 years.

  7. Congratulations Ryan, a credit to the Society in a business area that lives and breathes the Co-operative values day in day out. As an employee, member and customer of FLS I have always been proud of this society business. I am however very concerned of the business case behind the devices. Development commenced on this according to the post above in 2016 by seniors who held very short tenure in office. Technology as an enabler is so important in growing our business but again I fear we are hiding the costs.

  8. Thanks Ryan.

    This is great and a great example of the legacy created by Richard Pennycook, Tom Loosemore, Mike Bracken and others when they set up Co-op Digital back in 2016.

    In fact the product now known as Guardian was one of the first initiatives

    It’s been going on since then because it’s an evolving product and service Co-op digital is offering – it’s won awards and is widely used and the development journey continues… Great work by Co-op Digital and Funeralcare since 2016.

  9. Guardian is certainly worth the money that has been invested by the Co-op in recent years, a fantastic piece of kit and really helps us Care Logistic Managers and our teams work better for our families and their loved ones in our care

  10. Well done you Ryan !!
    As a close colleague I salute you but have a comment to make which I hope can be looked at in terms of improving the user experience.
    I’m very happy using Guardian on my desktop it is not rocket science and gets easier the more one uses it and the updates are put into place. Have the teams thought of the branches having a bigger portable tablet to use in arrangements. Using our computers robbed me of 20/20 vision and I cannot cause more strain to my eyes by using the tiny screen provided.It is far too small for comfortable use.The system is fine the screen is not.
    That would indeed be of great assistance to those whose eyesight is less than perfect..
    Keep moving forward and tweeking the system but we can’t wait to have you back here in this area when you are done !!

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