This blog post discusses the foundational research that propelled the development of Cadence’s 2022 research report: “Supporting Families with Estate Settlement: Challenges & Opportunities for Funeral Service Professionals.” To download the full report, visit this page.
Estate planning and settlement have remained tedious and complicated processes for many years. Cadence recognizes that implementing a solution takes a thorough understanding of the issue at hand. With the guidance of Product Manager, Kathrina Mazurik, we have been able to provide meaningful value to professionals and the families they support. In this blog post, we explore how research shapes product development and ensures that clients have the help they need to manage practical matters related to death.
From a young age, Kathrina has been fascinated by the unpredictable and complex behavior of humans. Throughout her journey to attain a PhD in Psychology, Kathrina maintained a passion for continual education and qualitative research (a research approach focused on gathering rich, in-depth insights and understanding of people’s experiences, beliefs, behaviors, and perceptions). As a Product Manager, Kathrina approaches research through a lens of discovery— finding solutions that will have the greatest impact for families and the professionals who support them.
There are limited academic studies that discuss estate settlement in detail (you can see references to some of them in our previous blogs, such as this one on the administrative burden of death). Recognizing this, Kathrina conducted a foundational research study on executors and funeral directors across North America, seeking to to understand customer needs, preferences, and pain points to inform product & marketing strategies.Through this process, the Cadence team was able to fill a gap in the ever-growing market and develop solutions to minimize various estate settlement issues.
“You have to be really careful early on in a company to make sure that you’re not just jumping too quickly to the solution without really understanding the problem first— that’s where we’ve tried to make [research] a strong commitment.”
Through the research study and ongoing fieldwork, Kathrina has determined that deathcare professionals understand the complications of estate settlement and want to offer solutions, but are often unable to provide direct support due to time and knowledge constraints. Introducing Cadence as a complementary service allows for a solution to an inter-professional dilemma.
Insights related to the grieving process have greatly impacted Cadence’s messaging and product design. Although not everyone grieves the same way, many executors experience issues in cognitive processing (i.e., memory, focus, and learning), making post-death paperwork frustrating to comprehend. However, Kathrina explains that there is more to understand about our clients than grief— executors are often detail-oriented and highly motivated to perform their duty responsibly and correctly. In fact, our research found that relative to their peers, executors show significantly higher scores of conscientiousness within the Big Five Personality traits framework (conscientiousness meaning organized, reliable, responsible, and carrying a strong work ethic). Therefore, Cadence chooses to relate to users with empathy and compassion while recognizing their appreciation of straightforward tools that help them accomplish their goals.
“People doing research in death-care must be attuned to the challenges that users are experiencing”
To stay on top of trends in the industry and the changing needs of our clients, Kathrina advocates for client feedback & engagement. Given the sensitivity of grief and the uniqueness of each estate settlement experience, outside sources of research can be difficult to obtain. By taking note of behavior patterns on the platform and listening to direct input through the client support team, Cadence can continue to improve its services & products.
Cadence is committed to research and is backed by regular testing to ensure all interface aspects– language, icons, and instructions, are clear and accessible to end-users. In addition to research, the entire Cadence team values shared knowledge to better meet client needs.
To further thoughtful solutions, Cadence has become a conversation leader in the deathcare field. Kathrina has had the honor of speaking at the University of Bath’s Center for Death and Society Conference in 2022 and 2023 to highlight Cadence’s innovation in the end-of-life sector. She also co-authored a research report to increase the public’s awareness of issues involving estate settlement. Beyond our own initiatives, Cadence has improved our knowledge and understandings through trusted partnerships with numerous accredited institutions and funding partners, including the University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, Mitacs, and the National Research Council.
At Cadence, we see research as the foundation for building products with real value. Kathrina and other research contributors (like our Product Designer, interns, and partner research groups) bring insights integral to launching new products, refining existing ones, and maintaining innovation in the death-care industry. Though research is ever-changing, we guarantee that the Cadence team will continue to use our knowledge to help families and professionals throughout the entire estate process.
Interested in learning more about our research with funeral professionals? Download our newly published white paper.
Interview with Kathrina Mazurik, Product Manager