Modern problems require modern solutions. Embracing the digital age is how St. Peter, the leading deathcare provider in the country, is able to remain on top of its industry and soldier on even when the pandemic has been affecting businesses on a global scale.
St. Peter CEO York Vitangcol sat down with Esquire to talk about how the company’s business model was once hated by the population from the 1970s to the 1990s and how people slowly gained the wisdom of preparing for their death.
“It was difficult to sell these life plans during the ‘70s to the ‘90s because the prospect of selling a product associated with preparation for death was not acceptable,” Vitangcol says. “In the early days, it was basically an unpopular, unwanted and even offensive product. Our sales people would hear violent reactions such as, “Walanghiya kayo, buhay pa ako, binebentahan mo na ako ng kabaong!,” or “Ha? Kabaong? Ikaw kaya ang ilagay ko diyan?”
The CEO also said that there was a disconnect between accredited funeral parlors and planholders as the services provided was still unpolished.
“Another challenge were the poor quality standards of the services which were actually provided by the accredited funeral parlors to the planholders when the life plans were used,” he adds.
Fast forward to the 2010s, St. Peter did the unimaginable by bringing in innovations in a highly traditional space.
It introduced services like eBurol, which was the first online 24-hour real-time viewing facility in the Philippines, making it easier for family and friends to mourn for the bereaved even if they can’t physically attend the wake.
This paved the way for other online services such as ZoomBurol or ZBurol, eLibing, the St. Peter mobile app, and St. Peter’s Gate, which is an online community where clients can create personalized pages to remember and honor their dearly departed.
“Now that we’re in the Fourth Industrial Revolution or the Digital Revolution, we plan to tap on technology to further enhance the customer experience,” Vitangcol says. “We have already been using zBurol (or Zoom Burol, an enhancement of our eBurol) in some of our chapels. We will soon be introducing our ecommerce store, where customers may buy our life plans online. We plan to automate our casket factories, as we search for ways to bring down costs while enhancing the appearance and quality of our caskets.”
“Our entire team is focused on and committed to our vision,” Vitangcol says, “(That is) to be the choice of the Filipino in deathcare services, and mission, which is to help in nation-building and to do our best to be excellent in serving customers for the good of our respective families and of humanity, and of course, for God’s glory.”
Moral of the story: embrace innovation. Something that may sound ridiculous at first look may actually be your ticket to bigger success