Throughout my career I’ve either read or heard that companies are only as good as their employees. I’ve found this to be a true statement and that’s why we feel it’s extremely important to train and develop our most valuable resource. Those who value employee development will continue to grow while those who don’t tend to remain stagnant. Our new hire training program consists of five phases including:
1. Introduction to our company including management team, employee handbook and code of conduct.
2. Compliance with state and federal laws including internal policies and procedures. Our collectors must pass with a minimum score of 90% on our debt collection rules and regulations tests before they can even make a call.
3. System training including telephony, collection software and file mechanics.
4. Talk off training including required disclosures, call progression and collection techniques. During this session we like to perform role-playing scenarios to help the collector overcome common objections.
5. Client specific training and special account handling.
A Valuable Ongoing Training Practice
Training isn’t a one and done program for our collectors. We feel like ongoing training for collectors with all ranges of experience is important to their development. Our industry is ever changing so there is always new material to cover. Often times those with experience have some bad habits or try to take shortcuts that end up costing them or us additional revenue. Employees need development not only to make them better at what they do but also to feel valued by their employer. Knowing there are multiple learning styles we try to accommodate each individual by using a different approach. One of our most valuable training practices is group round table call calibrations. We choose a few veteran collectors and a few rookie collectors and listen to a call from each. Once the call has ended each collector gets to speak on what they liked and what they may have done differently. The last collector to speak is the one whose call we just heard. Then the training manager adds their comments and suggestions. When we first started this practice I’d hear collectors moan and groan on their way to the training room. By the time the session was over each and every one of them came out of the training with a positive upbeat attitude. Some even asking when we were going to do it again.
The One-On-One Session
Other forms of training include side-by-side sessions where a manager sits with the collector and evaluates their file maintenance and talk off. We also have one-on-one call listening sessions where we listen to a right-party contact and allow the collector to evaluate how they performed. Having the collector evaluate the call allows the manager to have a better understanding of the collector’s job knowledge. Sometimes it takes listening to yourself on the phone to realize when you’re leaving money on the table or whether you could’ve handled the call more efficiently. A few of the things we evaluate during the call include tone of voice, call progression, fact-finding questions, psychological pause and urgency. Every so often we add pop quizzes to our intranet and offer a prize for those who score 100%. Once we identify each collector’s strengths and weaknesses we cater our strategy to their strengths. All collectors are not created equally so it’s our job to place them in the best position for their success. Some agents are better suited for a dialer while others are more effective skip tracing and manual dialing. We have a nice blend of post date collectors versus our liquidators and need a mixture of both in order to continue our success.
Sam Eidson is the Director of Operations at Delta Outsource Group. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Missouri Collectors Association.