Collector - February 2016 - 34


TRAINING

A New Twist on Training
ACA Spring Forum speaker Brian Chamberlain explains how agencies
can reinvent their approach to customer service training.

W

e're all looking for an edge that
will separate our agencies from
the pack. We compete daily for
clients, new markets and, most importantly,
talented staff. Our staff fuels our success but
also presents managers with their biggest
daily challenge: training.
Agencies need to present timely,
interesting training sessions across several
subjects to several levels of adult learners, all
without breaking the "time bank."
In a relentless attempt to keep training
up-to-date on rulings, trends and client
process requirements, it's easy to overlook
your biggest asset in all of these arenas:
customer service. To help remind outwardfacing staff of the most important part of
their day-the call-ask them a simple
question: If the person you just spoke to had
to respond to a survey about your call, how
would you do? And here's a question for
managers: How do you train your staff to be
prepared for that?
Brian Chamberlain, vice president of
operations at Action Collection Agencies
in Middleboro, Mass., recently spoke with
Collector about how agencies can put a new
twist on customer service training.

WHAT WAS THE CATALYST
FOR YOUR NEW APPROACH TO
TRAINING?
It actually grew out of comments I heard
during Dr. Joseph Michelli's presentation at
ACA International's 2015 Convention and
Expo in Boston. He talked about the need
to pay constant attention to how customers
perceive your organization as well as how to
keep employees engaged in the conversation
on how they can affect those perceptions. I
mentioned the presentation to my wife, who
also writes training for her company, and
we both had a bit of an "aha!" moment: Let's
prepare and deliver training that is effective
in increasing awareness of customer service

34

both to clients and consumers, but also
actually has the learner develop content
with other learners.

HOW DOES THIS APPROACH
DIFFER FROM OTHER PERIODIC
TRAINING?
In our industry, we are always receiving
and regurgitating new case law, adapting
to changing client demands, market
trends and the ever-present alphabet
soup of training: FDCPA, FCRA, HIPAA,
CFPB, etc.

There are countless ways to deliver this
information through automated daily
training systems as well as intake and
follow-up training in classroom situations.
But how often do we let our staff develop
and deliver content?
The approach we'll talk about at ACA
International's 2016 Spring Forum in
March starts with the online surveying
of staff, which can help set a baseline as
to where they feel they stand in regard to
current workload and practices, as well as
where there may be challenges in their own
personal arsenals of knowledge.
After we reviewed the results of our
survey, we produced an interactive
training format that quickly energized

the conversation on service levels across
all departments. Each learner has an
opportunity to deliver keywords and phrases
that will provide the backbone for the
content to follow. It is during the real-time
development and delivery of this content
where the learning really takes place.

HOW CAN THIS TRAINING
IMPROVE PERFORMANCE?
That is the $64,000 question! This training
session is focused on the premise that a
survey will follow each client/consumer
call, so the improvement comes into focus
right away, just by having the small groups
talking about good call qualities.
In a recent session we held, learners
were placed into small teams, mixed by
departments. They were challenged to
commit to one word that described how
their customer felt about them after the
call. Then it got more in-depth as each team
was charged with creating a path to that
end result. Once you feel you know what's
important to the client or consumer, you can
drive the conversation to supply the call that
would satisfy both caller and customer.
Following the session, the participants
returned to their departments, driven by
the most-repeated keywords in the training:
professionalism and confidence. Collection
representatives from both first- and thirdparty staffs attacked their work queues,
as did client service personnel. Having
had solid input into their own training
and hearing talk about others the same
relatable challenges and resolutions lead
to a measurable uptick in call volumes and
collection results.
Brian Chamberlain will present a detailed
discussion of this new approach to training at
ACA International's Spring Forum & Expo,
March 9-11, 2016, in Las Vegas. To register,
visit www.acainternational.org/springforum.

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.acainternational.org/springforum http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - February 2016

Collector - February 2016 - Cover1
Collector - February 2016 - Cover2
Collector - February 2016 - 1
Collector - February 2016 - 2
Collector - February 2016 - 3
Collector - February 2016 - 4
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Collector - February 2016 - 6
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