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Can We Teach New Hires Collection Instincts?

Can We Teach New Hires Collection Instincts?

Not long ago, I was talking to a leader in the ARM industry, and they mentioned that training new hires is a challenge mainly because veteran collectors have instincts they’ve learned over the years that simply can’t be taught. Instead, new hires need to work in the field for years to learn everything they need to know to navigate from the beginning of a collection call to the end.

That really stuck with me because I had never really thought about how instinctual collecting can be. The truth is, many industry veterans do have strong instincts that guide them when challenging situations arise. They make fewer mistakes because they made enough mistakes early in their careers, and now they know what to say and when to say it to move a call forward.

So for me, the question became the following:

Can we teach new hires collection instincts to cut down on runway time?

Keep reading because the answer to this question might surprise you.

To dive into this question, let’s take a look at what research says about human behaviors.

Mark S. Blumberg, a neuroscientist who specializes in human behavior, published an article in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews about the behavioral science behind human instincts. He cited research that shows the origin of human instincts: the development of certain skills and behaviors over time. For example, many people may be able to swing a baseball bat and hit the ball almost every time, but their instincts for the sport were born after hours of practice.

What does this mean for collector development?

What does this mean for collector development?

The way I see it, we don’t have to throw our new hires to the wolves and let them make mistakes just so they can develop the instincts they need to navigate the challenging ARM world. At one point in time, that was a common way to develop collection instincts, and it worked. The problem is that it took way too long to get collectors up to speed, and in 2022, we have too many rules and regulations to consider to allow that much room for error and experimentation.

Instead, imagine if we could cut that runway time significantly by targeting specific areas where collectors would benefit from instincts.

I wholeheartedly believe we can teach these instincts to collectors ourselves by streamlining our training programs in four key areas, and the good news is, I have successfully done this.

1. Emotional Intelligence

1. Emotional Intelligence

The collection industry was built on a baby boomer mindset of pride and responsibility. Those days are over because we’re now in the millennial era where people are way more likely to make decisions based on how they feel.

With that in mind, how can we appeal to a consumer’s unique emotions attached to their debt to collect payment by the end of the call?

The answer is to train our teams on emotional intelligence as soon as they’re onboarded.

If you’re struggling to figure out how to teach emotional intelligence to your collectors, you’re in good hands because I’ve written about how to do so in a previous blog post. You can read it here.

2. Communication

2. Communication

Communication is key in debt collection. After all, a debt collector’s entire job is to talk to consumers, which means having an effective communication strategy will truly make or break your agency’s rate of complaints and the bottom line.

If you’re interested in a quick and easy communication training for your team, try out my online course The Communication Code for Collectors, which also briefly teaches the emotional intelligence piece.

3. Critical Thinking

3. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a skill that will directly translate into the instincts many veteran collectors have from years of experience. When we can train on critical thinking early on, our new hires will gain problem-solving skills quickly and easily.

One easy way to train on critical thinking is to have new hires try out script writing for common pain points that come up at your agency. This will expand their abilities to think in terms of solutions.

4. Negotiation

4. Negotiation

The final skill I want to touch on is negotiation. Many collectors actually never learn this skill, so when you teach it to new hires, you’re priming them to be the top earners.

The Collection Advantage online training program has multiple lessons on effective negotiation techniques for debt collection, as well as lessons on the other three skills I discussed previously.

Interested? Book a call with me today to learn how you can bring The Collection Advantage to your agency and get started on training your new hires and veterans on the top collection instincts.


Psst…have you registered for Collector.Live! yet? If you haven't, you can register quickly and easily here.

What the video below for a sneak peek of what you might learn this year.

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