Make Your Next Training Initiative “Sticky” With These Retention Techniques
November 30, 2021, will be a landmark date in the collection industry. Agencies across the United States are rapidly putting together training agendas to prepare their teams for the new Reg F requirements. While these next few weeks may feel overwhelming as you roll out new training to your staff, I have great news for you: you can make your training digestible and “sticky” with a few key tactics, even with this time crunch.
Stick with me to find out how.
My training has focused primarily on communications, and I’ve retrained over a dozen collections departments over the past year to communicate with consumers with empathy. These techniques I'm going to share with you have worked extraordinarily well, and I wholeheartedly believe they can be applied to Reg F training or any other training initiatives your agency may take on now or in the future.
So, get out your favorite note-taking tools, copy and paste this blog post’s URL to find it again later, and get ready to design a fantastic training initiative to get your staff up to speed and prepared for the upcoming changes in our industry.
All of it starts with my personal favorite technique: gamifying the process.
When I speak with other industry professionals about implementing new training at their agencies, they often ask me how to gamify the process. After all, gamification keeps employees engaged and excited to learn new information.
According to an article by the business consulting company Nae, because gamification keeps employees engaged, it can actually increase overall retention. Many education experts predict this methodology is growing at exponential rates, meaning many training developers are implementing gamification into their products.
With that in mind, you can stay ahead by adding gamification to your internal training. The question is, how can you make this happen?
ELearningIndustry.com has a list of various gamification techniques, and I want to touch on one in particular: challenges.
Challenges have become a staple in my training programs, and I’ve seen firsthand how effective they can be. Let me explain what a challenge can look like in debt collection training.
In my online training programs, I always include weekly challenges. These are virtual roleplaying activities that collectors and other professionals can use while interacting with consumers. They are simply given directions to complete the challenge and worksheets to track their progress, and their supervisors are able to incentivize them however they’d like. For example, at my office, we might use a raffle to upgrade a challenge and boost morale on the collection floor.
The best part about challenges is that your team gets to practice new skills right away. Gone are the days of job shadowing and picking up bad habits; now collectors—whether veteran or new hires—get to jump right into their calls with new skill sets, and they get to have fun while doing it.
Now, let’s move on to the next piece of the training initiative puzzle, which is all about organizing information in an efficient and digestible fashion to make sure your team can learn quickly and easily.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the benefits of online learning in professional settings, and in that post, I talked at length about the importance of microlearning. In case you missed that blog post, we’re going to revisit microlearning here because, in many ways, microlearning will be an important key to implementing a training initiative successfully at your agency.
In 2018, the International Journal of Educational Research Review published research about the effectiveness of microlearning and how it increases retention. The research suggests that learning works the best when it’s done in a short period of time, which makes long-form content harder for people to consume. In other words, sitting in an hours-long seminar may not be the best option for most learners because they’ll lose interest quickly.
An easy solution for this is splitting up the content into bite-sized chunks of information that learners can consume in short periods of time each day until the training is complete. If you haven’t guessed it yet, this method is called microlearning.
Let’s unpack how you can implement microlearning into your next training initiative at your agency.
One of the best ways to implement microlearning is to create a training agenda or syllabus. This means you’ll outline all of the content you want to teach your collectors, and then you’ll decide the timeline for delivering each individual piece of information.
For example, in The Collection Advantage online training program, I have a 9-week syllabus, and each week, trainers are instructed to roll out 3-4 videos to their team. Some weeks, they don’t even watch videos; they just complete their virtual role-playing activities. On the days they watch videos, the videos are never longer than 20 minutes, and each video focuses on just one topic. In other words, teams are spending only 5-20 minutes off the phones, and they’re staying engaged because the information is quick and digestible.
You can create a similar format for your team’s next training initiative. Simply give your team a few minutes of digestible content for each topic, and roll it out over the course of a few weeks. By the end of the training, retention will be much higher, which means trainers won’t have to spend as much time later retraining on certain concepts.
Let’s move on to the last element you can implement to create a successful training initiative, which is all about catering to your team’s specific learning needs.
Many researchers have studied the diversity of learning styles. In fact, most people have probably heard of the VARK Learning Styles. The VARK studies suggest that everyone has their own learning style that falls into four categories: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. New research also argues that people may have multiple learning styles under the VARK umbrella.
So, how can you implement learning styles that will work for everyone if each individual at your agency has a unique learning style?
The way I see it, what works best is to implement a little bit of every learning style to make sure every collector is feeling invested in and engaged.
Here are a few examples of how you can implement each style in your next training initiative:
Visual: Use videos, posters, and diagrams to explain the information you’re presenting. For example, if you’re teaching about effective call flow, the visual learner may resonate the most with a flow chart that explains how to get through a call from start to finish depending on what roadblocks arise.
Auditory: For parts of the training, incorporate a verbal component. For example, the trainer can explain the most important concepts out loud so the auditory learners can understand the content better. Videos or podcasts also work well for auditory learners.
Reading/Writing: Make sure you have transcripts, manuals, or notes pages for reading/writing learners to digest the content effectively.
Kinesthetic: Create challenges or activities for your collectors to complete that directly apply the concepts you’re teaching.
Ultimately, sprinkling in each of these learning styles into your training initiative will up-level the process and increase content retention across the board, so make this technique a priority when planning your next training.
Start Planning Your Next Training Initiative
Now that you know the three techniques to create “sticky” training materials for your team, start planning out your dream initiative and get your collectors caught up on industry knowledge quickly and effectively.
I’ll have more content like this coming up in the future, so make sure you’re subscribed to my weekly newsletter to stay tuned!