There is a lot of muscle memory in being a debt collector. From the time you begin training to the many similar phone conversations that are had day in and day out, there is a lot of repetition. It can be tough to unlearn certain behaviors and it can be easy to fall back into old habits. This has made training collectors for the changes brought on by Regulation F more difficult for companies in the accounts receivable management industry. Companies have had to get creative with their training to teach and reinforce the changes that collectors need to make during conversations with consumers. A panel of experts recently shared their experiences and perspectives during a webinar sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning.
Companies have had to adapt their training materials not just for existing employees, but any new employees who start working after November 30, when Regulation F went into effect.
“My manual is this thick and now I get to go through the whole thing again,” said Gwen Gullicksen, the training manager at Sentry Credit, during the webinar. “I thought I got the the key points on it while we updated all this stuff, but I know as I go through and teach this class, I’m going to come across things like, ‘That used to be true, but now it’s not.’ “
A key to help collectors retain the knowledge they need to learn as part of Regulation F has been to make the training fun, said Michael Jeselnik, the General Manager of Carter-Young in Conyers, Ga. When being lectured, people tend to retain only about 10% of what they hear, Jeselnik said. By making the content more interactive and entertaining, not only are you making it more enjoyable, but also increasing the amount of information that is being retained. Carter-Young celebrated the enactment of Regulation F with a party and all the employees were given t-shirts to commemorate the occasion. Another key component to helping collectors learn the ins and outs of Regulation F was offering incentives, Jeselnik said.
Being vulnerable and transparent can also help in an agency’s training, said Mindy Chumbley of Solverity. When asking employees to take a test to ensure they have learned key information, Chumbley said she takes the test, too, and isn’t afraid to show her employees where she made mistakes.
“That kind of willingness to jump through the ropes yourself shows it’s not this cheesy thing but that it’s important and then you value it enough to run through it yourself and it can really encourage your team,” she said.
There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of — there’s no such thing as a unique question. If you have a question about something, chances are you’re not the only one. And that’s true about Regulation F. To help its collectors, Sentry Credit created a wiki on its intranet that employees can use to ask question about the provisions of the rule and see what other questions their co-workers are asking.
“If you can get it to me, and I can get that information to everybody, we can all be on the same page,” Gullicksen said. “We try to make sure that anybody who needs this information has access to it and can use it and if you don’t, we’re going to make it as available as possible as quick as possible so that everybody can get their questions answered.”