Agent turnover in call centers has steadily grown to 38% in 2022, and with increased regulatory scrutiny and economic instability, it’s a challenging landscape for handling financially distressed customers. Of course, this high turnover can be attributed to the emotionally taxing nature of debt collections. But one of the main reasons for high agent turnover is the preference for the work-from-home model. To address this issue, collections departments have begun to adapt by offering remote work options and ensuring robust remote training programs. A key challenge bubbled up from this change: creating engaging and effective collections training for remote agents.
In recent years, corporate training shifted dramatically to remote-based training. Research underscores the importance of crafting engaging content and honing communication skills, especially empathy, to make remote training effective. Shockingly, about 50% of corporate training programs (remote and in-person) fail due to factors like irrelevant content, disengaged learners, outdated practices, poor communication of training needs, lack of managerial clarity and uninterested employees.
Collections leaders will continue to face the task of adapting phone channel training to a remote environment while preparing agents comprehensively and mitigating unwanted outcomes. The key to success lies in training that minimizes lectures and maximizes hands-on activities. Engaging employees during training with activities and role plays pushes them outside their comfort zone (required for retaining knowledge) and helps them practice successful communication techniques.
Ask yourself: Are you teaching the right communication techniques, practicing it, and then inspecting what you expect after the training ends?
1. Design role-based training material that’s relevant to the learner’s job.
2. Create a balanced training curriculum that engages virtual participants.
Your activities should follow a pattern of tell me, show me and then, observe me. This can be achieved by first explaining what is required on the call, then playing best-in-class calls to be able to hear what good sounds like. Then conduct role plays to practice and observe.
Tip: Create a call library to clarify the standards for an exemplary call. The library should contain the highest-rated calls categorized by call type. This allows learners to understand what constitutes a “best in class” call.
3. Establish a Post-Training Feedback Program for Continuous Learning. Implement a Call Listening Program where managers monitor calls and give feedback.
Adapting your classroom curriculum to the adult learning 70/20/10 rule will have a dramatic effect on your learner’s experience and success. Adults learn from three types of experience, following a ratio of: 70% on-the-job training experience, 20% from exposure to the right behavior and 10% from educational courses. You can modify your curriculum by ensuring your learners are participating in activities and exposed to the right behavior 90% of the time you are in class. You can decrease lecture time and increase activities such as customer listening sessions, group/individual activities and role plays. It takes someone 21 times to develop a habit and the practice you provide your learners will make perfect.
While building the classroom curriculum is foundational to your training, true success in collections starts with the capacity to engage in empathetic customer conversations. Teaching this remotely can be challenging, but the key to success lies in the use of real-world activities.
Empathy is Critical for Keeping Customers Around
In a study conducted by Lexop a striking 32% of respondents blamed their negative past-due experiences on unsympathetic and rude agents. Shockingly, 71% of them considered switching to the competition as a result. Clearly, being empathetic in your communication is absolutely critical.
Dedicating time to practice will help you develop effective and empathetic communication skills among your team. But why are these skills so important? Lexop surveyed past-due customers, revealing that factors like inflation, interest rate hikes and rising costs have made it increasingly difficult for consumers to manage their bills. In fact, 60% of U.S. consumers are living paycheck to paycheck.
Showing empathy and building a connection with customers who are facing financial struggles significantly enhances your ability to negotiate successful payment arrangements.
By revisiting the basics and teaching agents through practice, how to ask the right questions and respond adeptly to challenging customer situations, you increase their capacity for authentic conversations. This, in turn, boosts your chances of being first in line for payment.
Incorporating the right training programs can make all the difference in the world, and Bridgeforce can help. Our proven collections training for remote agents have empowered clients to boost dollars collected and improve customer satisfaction scores while enhancing agent performance. Reach out today to explore how we can transform your collections agent training, enhance empathy and ultimately increase your success when dealing with financially distressed customers.