3 Foolproof Ways to Turn Your Collectors into Idea Machines

| Mary Shores

I want to ask you a few questions:

How much time do your supervisors spend on escalated calls?

What could your team accomplish if your supervisors had more time off the phone?

Picture this: Your collector is on the phone with an aggravated consumer. The consumer is claiming that insurance should have covered their balance. The collector has already verified that insurance covered their portion, and the remaining balance is the consumer’s out-of-pocket responsibility. They’ve tried to explain the situation to the consumer. The consumer doesn’t want to hear it, and the collector isn’t sure what to do next, so they transfer the call to a supervisor. The supervisor is able to find a solution that works for the consumer, and the issue is luckily resolved.

Now, imagine that same scenario, and instead of transferring the call to the supervisor, the collector is able to problem-solve and come up with some great solutions on their own.

Luckily, with a few simple changes and some debt collection training classes, you can actually turn your collectors into idea machines, and this alternative scenario can become a reality!

Stick with me, and you’ll have the perfect tools to start the process.

Invest in Critical Thinking

The main way to turn your collectors into idea machines is to invest in critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking can truly make or break the most challenging collection calls.

When a collector is able to think critically, they can typically problem-solve in the moment and come up with the best possible solutions for the consumer.

Let’s talk about how to train your collectors to use critical thinking skills.

One great way is to teach them about the incredible power of questions.

When your collectors know what questions to ask and when to ask them, they’re able to gather the information they need to navigate difficult calls.

You can teach them the types of questions (open-ended, closed-ended, calibrated, and reflective) and show them when and how to use each type.

You can also teach your collectors critical thinking skills by reminding them to use the psychological pause and listen to the consumer to gather information when they start talking again. Listening and the art of asking questions will truly boost a collector’s ability to problem-solve.

I recommend investing in debt collection training classes that specifically target critical thinking. It's a learned skill that your collectors can truly benefit from. Check out my website to learn more about my online training program, The Collection Advantage. The program targets critical thinking and several other skills collectors need to navigate calls effectively.

Once your collectors have learned some critical thinking skills, it will be important to exercise them frequently, just like a muscle. That brings us to the next way to turn your collectors into idea machines: Complete exercises to keep the skills sharp.

Write Down 10 Ideas Every Day

A great exercise to keep critical thinking skills sharp is to have your collectors write down 10 ideas every day. These don’t even have to be collection-related; if they start writing down any ideas they can think of, it will spin the wheels of their critical thinking brain and work to strengthen it.

This is something I learned a few years ago from one of my favorite authors, James Altucher. James is the king of no-nonsense, so I knew this method had to work. It’s super easy, and it makes a huge difference. Check out James’ website here.

Let me walk you through the process. Write down a list of 10 ideas. You can write anything. 10 ideas for different foods you want to try. 10 places you want to travel to. 10 ways to make your job more enjoyable. The point is not what the ideas are; the point is just to write a list of ideas to get your problem-solving brain moving.

Your collectors can do this throughout the day or all at once in the morning. Either way, it will truly help to get their brain sweating, and over time, and it will exercise the critical thinking skills you’ve learned in debt collection training.

Pre-Script Top Pain Points

While critical thinking skills can help collectors problem-solve in the moment, it’s always beneficial to have your agency’s top pain points pre-scripted. Sometimes, when tensions are high, even the most skilled collector can benefit from some reminders of how to solve specific problems. Plus, when pain points are pre-scripted, your entire agency will be more consistent, which is a win-win for your collectors and the consumers.

Here’s a challenge for you: Think of 10 pain points that your collectors frequently face. Then, take some time to figure out...

  1. What problem the consumer is having in those scenarios

  2. What outcome the consumer may be searching for

  3. What options your team can provide

  4. What response your team can give to offer a solution

Scripted responses may not always work. That said, they’ll still offer your team a starting point for some of the most difficult calls. And if you’ve already been investing in critical thinking skills, your collectors will be able to navigate calls after a consumer rejects a scripted solution. After all, by this point, you’ll have a team full of idea machines.

From Theory to Practice

Now that you have 3 foolproof ways to turn your collection team into idea machines, you can begin your journey of investing in critical thinking, continued growth, and scripting.

Once your agency gets into a rhythm with these tips, you’ll truly start to notice a difference. I’ve had clients report that they’ve had far fewer supervisor calls overall, which has allowed their supervisors to focus more on their own professional development!

If you want some additional insight into how to start investing in your team’s skills book a call with me today so we can discuss my debt collection training options. I’d love to help take your agency to the next level.

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