Develop an Adaptive Call Model for High Performance Call Centers

Selecting an existing call framework or building one requires a detailed look at what you want accomplished on calls and identifying the skills your agents must have. Here’s an overview of how to do it.

The anatomy of a successful call starts with a simple call model that agents can modify based on call type.  First, break down the “must haves” for each section in the model and define expectations as part of your adaptive call model framework.

Identify Call Outcomes and the Agent Skills to Achieve Them

Once you understand what you want the call to sound like, you can identify what competencies your agents will need to possess to execute the call successfully.

Let’s break this down into three activities:

  1. Select a call model framework
  2. Define call expectations
  3. Identify competencies and build success profiles

1. Select a Call Model Framework

Defining a successful call starts with an adaptive call model framework comprised of four parts:

4 steps to a call model for an empathetic approach


Opening:  During the opening you verify the customer; talk to the right party; read required disclosures and build rapport by acknowledging the caller’s situation.

Assessing:  When assessing, you ask open-ended questions to determine the reason for the call or to understand the customer’s ability, stability, and willingness to pay. It’s critical to avoid duplicative questions and select the best payment option.

Resolving: To resolve the situation, you align a solution to help the customer and review the solution in detail to ensure the customer fully understands and can accept the plan of action.

Closing: As part of closing, you confirm the customer’s understanding of next steps and set expectations for what the customer is to do and what your company will do. Lastly, always thank the customer for their time.


2. Define Call Expectations

When you define call expectations for each section of the call model, you end up with a chronological plan to follow.


opening attributes within the adaptive call model

Expectations:  Use the OPENING to ensure that you contacted the right party and take the opportunity to establish a professional rapport-building relationship.

How to do it:

  • Open the call professionally and follow call verification procedures
  • Use a positive tone / language and take ownership of the call
  • Show empathy and match the customer’s tone
RELATED CONTENTYes, you can teach empathy and here are the steps to build an empathetic approach to collections


Assessing and Resolving

Assessing and resolving attributes
Expectations:  During ASSESSING AND RESOLVING, gather all the necessary information to understand the situation. Do this in an authentic manner demonstrating a genuine desire to help the customer.

Customers may be overly optimistic and will promise to send payments that don’t match what they can afford.  This takes a delicate balance of questioning.

How to do it:

  • Get to the root cause through open-ended questions or by reviewing account memos. You will be able to determine if what you are hearing matches what you are seeing as demonstrated behavior on the account. Then, follow up with clarifying questions to identify the best solution.
  • Build trust using acknowledgment statements with an empathetic tone. A change in a customer’s financial situation usually occurs when something significant happens to either their income or their expenses. Tensions may be high.
  • Use “I” and not “You” when speaking with customers. Suggested phrases include: “I have helped others in your situation” or “Thank you for sharing that information, I know it can be difficult to talk about.”



Closing attributes including recap, notate and partner
Expectations: The CLOSING ensures that the customer understands what you have discussed and knows their obligations.  When you close the call, you make the customer feel valued and appreciated by using phrases that create value-added emotion.

How to do it:

  • Recap what you have agreed to (payment arrangement or next steps).
  • Reinforce that this is a partnership and impart your continued willingness to help the customer.
  • Stress open lines of communication, (e.g., the customer proactively calls if something changes to risk the agreed arrangement).
  • Thank the customer for their time, “Thank you for being a valued customer. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
  • If you have not reached an agreement of how to move forward, give options to research so you have a reason to follow-up. Or let them know when you will follow up.


3. Identify Competencies and Build Success Profiles

Identify Competencies — Assess roles to identify competencies (skills, abilities and personal attributes) that will drive performance and customer satisfaction.

How to do it:

  • Review the responsibilities and outputs you desire. For example: if you want agents to select the best payment option, critical thinking is a skill that they would need.
  • Observe high performing agents for the skill sets they possess. Keeping with the critical thinking example: what behaviors do top agents possess in critical thinking?  What data do they look at, what questions do they ask?
  • Collect data and organize behavioral data.

Chart showing the stages of the call with the adaptive call model


Build Success Profiles — Each competency requires a success profile, so agents and management have a map for how to achieve expected results.

How to do it:

  1. Choose a competency (see 1 below for example)
  2. Define the competency (see 2 below for example)
  3. Compile the behaviors expected for each competency and align behaviors to a theme (see 3 below for example)

Chart showing competencies as part of an adaptive call model


Optimal Performance Starts with Your Call Model

We’ve developed call model expectations and built listening and coaching programs for clients to increase call quality and provide a lift in collections rates.

The complete program makes sure that agents understand what is expected of them and get the training and tools for ongoing success. Contact us today to talk about how to improve your call performance.


Quick Access to the Blogs in this Series:

Build Balanced Training for High Performance & Customer Satisfaction

When you align training of the collections call model framework with competencies that drive performance, you achieve success. The key is to balance lecture and activities within the training to…more

Manage Performance With a Proven Feedback Cycle

You can still improve performance after the call model is built and training is complete. You must use a consistent cycle of listening and coaching.  Here are the steps to take to incorporate that cycle into your operations…more

How to Reward Success to Sustain Call Center Performance

Formal reward and recognition programs acknowledge when employees achieve the expectations set for them. Organizations with these programs are 12x more likely to have strong business outcomes.  Take specific actions…more


[Editor’s note: this article was written by Kristin Stolp, former Bridgeforce Senior Program Manager]

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