How To Create An Effective Collections Training Program: Part 1

| Mary Shores

This blog post is specifically for you if…

  • At times you feel stuck training collectors as the industry continues to change with new regulations and shifting paradigms.

  • You’re fully aware that your current training initiatives just can’t keep up.

  • You understand that when it comes to building an impactful training program, finding a system that truly educates and motivates your team is crucial and can pay off for you again and again

This is part one of a three-part blog post series all about how to create the best possible training program for your collections team.

Who am I and why am I talking about this?

I spent almost 15 years creating a comprehensive training program called The Collection Advantage, so now I have the inside scoop for how to create a stellar collector training program that will positively impact your agency's culture, bottom line, and client relations.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let's start with a quick thought exercise.

Imagine if you created the most amazing training that you knew could genuinely transform your collectors and even get consumers to pay in full.

You prepare the perfect training day that you’re sure is going to get your collectors’ buy-in and have them excited to get to work.

But when you finally deliver the content to your team, your team just doesn’t buy-in. They don't seem to care, and they don't apply what you've taught them. Instead, after the training day, everything is business as usual. The same complaints are rolling in. The same numbers are reported. And the same issues rise up on the collections floor.

When this happens, it feels devastating.

I’ve heard this story over and over from so many collection agency managers, owners, and trainers who tell me how frustrating and defeating it can feel when their collectors struggle to engage with new information, retain it, and put it into practice.

If you've been here, I want to let you in on a little secret: I may be a training expert now, but I wasn't always. In fact. I used to make my training sessions too long and complicated. I might have had 5 or 10 takeaways, but if I was lucky, my collectors maybe only retained one. This is because making a training session too long keeps it superficial, and most of the time, the mind hasn’t had time to grasp one concept before moving on to the next. Simply put, people just don’t learn this way.

Luckily, there's a better way.

When I decided to make training the main focus of my business, I started with some simple problems I was trying to solve.

Now, it’s time for you to brainstorm.

What problems are you trying to solve with this training?

Start with behaviors you either want to eliminate or create. You’re either trying to get them to stop doing something or start doing something.

Make a list of problems you’re trying to solve. Once you finish, you now have an outline for your training program.

Minimize your browser, pull up a Word document, and get to make your list. I'll wait...

Ok, the easy part is over. Now, you need to find a way to break down the content into stacks to deliver it effectively to your team. You want them to actually retain it. And this is where my first tip comes into play: microlearning will promote learning retention.

The Power Of Microlearning

The first step is all about breaking up your training content into stacks. Whenever I decided to create the Collection Advantage Online Training Program, I wanted to know exactly how the human brain learns and retains information.

I studied mental modeling, which taught me everything I needed to know to create training that would make the concepts sticky.

Now I know with certainty that microlearning, or learning in small stacks one concept at a time, will deliver the best results.

Think about when you or your children were first learning how to read and write. First, when they are very young, they learn how to say the alphabet. This is the beginning of the stack. Next, they learn how to write the ABCs and eventually move on to putting those letters together to form small words. And finally, they learn how to arrange the words into sentences… and on and on… You get the picture.

The issue with collection training that I see repeated over and over is cramming way too much information at a superficial level instead of taking a deep dive.

For example, in The Collection Advantage, I wanted a lesson on active listening. I noticed how often people don’t feel heard and understood and how difficult it can be to truly listen in a way that moves the call forward, so I broke it down, bit by bit. This way, instead of harping on people telling them they must listen, we show them how and why to listen in small, easy-to-understand steps.

Let me show you another example from The Collection Advantage called Debt Collection in a Crisis. In this example, we are focused on how to communicate with consumers during a crisis.

We took a deep dive into the topic and we covered:

  • How to show loads of empathy through triple stacking validations

  • How to open up the conversation with feeling questions

  • How to respond to consumers who were laid off or lost their income

  • Any alternative plans or policies implemented

So, as you can see, the training session was all about communicating in a crisis, and the beauty of this process is how we were able to deep dive into the topic. You see, it’s not enough to just tell collectors to be empathetic; I wanted to show them how and give them exactly the words that would work to get them through the calls.

The wonderful thing about developing training this way is that potentially you only have to create it once, especially if you can record the lessons as we did in The Collection Advantage program.

I’ll be honest with you: building a training program takes a long time. It can take months or even years to flesh out all of the content you want to deliver, and this blog post is only part one of three. So, if your agency doesn’t have time to develop an extensive training program, let’s chat. Book a call with me today so we can bring The Collection Advantage online training program to your team.

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