Collector - November 2020 - 19

In other instances, strict scripting may
increase risks.
"While we might train collectors to
follow scripts, consumers don't have
to," Bender said. "If your policy says all
collectors must follow the same script and
you require them to memorize scripts
they can't realistically follow because the
conversation takes another path, you could
be putting your agency at risk."
Another risk of scripting is the
potential for collectors to deliver the
message in a monotone, robotic manner.
Avoiding this scenario requires training
and reinforcement. Using call recordings
helps not only identify which collectors
are slipping into "robot mode," but also
demonstrates why their delivery isn't
effective.
When collectors hear their own voices,
they can identify problems not only with
their delivery but also with their overall
approach. They may realize they missed
important details that could have helped
them react more effectively if they had
been listening more closely or hadn't
been distracted.
Another essential training tool is role
playing.
"At the beginning of training, new hires
spend days practicing scripts and role
playing," Staggs said. "They get the initial
scripts to practice in front of a mirror at
home to get them in the habit of smiling
while speaking. That helps them sound more
pleasant on the phone. If you have a frown or
grumpy face, your script will sound that way,
and it will turn off the consumer to paying."
Even if a collector delivers the script
perfectly, it's only as good as its content.
Scripts may need to be revised from time
to time. A change to local, state or federal
regulations or new call trends identified by
staff may necessitate a script change.
"One of the standard steps to a collection
call at many agencies used to say, 'educate
the consumer,'" Bender said. "But this
led to collectors literally saying, 'Let me
educate you,' which sounds condescending
and demeaning. What you really want
the collector to do is understand what is

COLLECTOR 11.20

needed to resolve an account and help
the consumer get to a solution sized to fit.
Dedicated call listeners who listen for the
consumers' challenges can then use those
as a feedback loop to continually improve
their talking points."
In addition to changes stemming from
compliance requirements and call trends,
collectors themselves are often good
sources for recommending meaningful
script revisions. They may notice that
consumers are frequently misinterpreting
information they heard on the news
related to student loan forgiveness, for
example. It's important for collectors to
notify their supervisors of the need for
additional talking points or scripting
related to that issue.
When a scripting change is made, test the
new messaging with a group of collectors
familiar with the issue, refine the content
based on the test group's effectiveness and
then train everyone who is affected through
role playing and practice techniques.
Document and archive changes in case
issues arise later.
"You want to chronicle changes and
maintain version control," Bender said. "If
you receive a lawsuit, you may be able to
demonstrate that you used the language
in question only in a short-term test mode
during specific dates. That could limit
exposure in a class claim."
Used strategically, scripting is a powerful
collection tool. Knowing when to adopt a
cookie-cutter approach and when to allow
for greater flexibility can help agencies
tackle compliance requirements, build
collector confidence, improve their overall
performance and reduce risk.
"In today's litigious times, scripts protect
collectors who are talking to the consumer
and scripts protect the agency overall,"
Staggs said. "When you have an agency
that has no scripting, they open themselves
up to greater risk of someone claiming the
collector said something they didn't and
getting sued over it."
Tim Dressen is a communications consultant
and former editor of Collector magazine.

1

Establish which scripts
are mandatory and which
allow for customization.

2

Encourage naturalsounding conversations
through training and
reinforcement. Using call
recordings can identify which
collectors are slipping into
"robot mode."

3

Train, retrain and refine
messaging when
circumstances change.
19



Collector - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - November 2020

Collector - November 2020 - Cover1
Collector - November 2020 - Cover2
Collector - November 2020 - 1
Collector - November 2020 - 2
Collector - November 2020 - 3
Collector - November 2020 - 4
Collector - November 2020 - 5
Collector - November 2020 - 6
Collector - November 2020 - 7
Collector - November 2020 - 8
Collector - November 2020 - 9
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