Magazine article Business Credit

Use Role Playing to Advance Collector Training

Magazine article Business Credit

Use Role Playing to Advance Collector Training

Article excerpt

After more than 20 years of training people to collect, there is no question that the most effective training method is role-playing. It benefits both raw trainees and seasoned professionals.

Many people who are new to collections are reluctant to participate in role-playing drills because they know they are going to "do it wrong" and it's embarrassing to make a public fool of yourself. Others say that role-playing isn't a real situation. This is far from the truth. Doing it "wrong" is an essential step along the way to getting it perfect.

Play By the Rules of the Game

The purpose of role-playing is to learn how to handle and confront debtor resistance to paying. The purpose is not to have a brilliant comeback for every excuse a debtor throws at you. There are four main rules to follow:

1. Discourage all outbursts so that the collector and debtor may be able to stay in character.

2. Don't allow phrases such as, "If I were in that situation..." or, "That happened to me once, and what I said was...." No war stories allowed; say what you want for this situation. Remember that each collection situation is unique.

3. The players don't have to see each other. The players experience less stress if they do not have to look at one other; real collection encounters occur over the phone.

4. Non-playing members of the group must actively listen. The group must determine whether the collector is really communicating with the debtor or simply mouthing scripts or comebacks. The group then offers its observations during the evaluation at the end of each session.

In a variation of one-on-one role playing, an entire group participates by forming a circle of chairs. Two people begin the exercise, but will eventually run out of things to say. At this point, someone else takes over. Almost always, someone will be able to pick up the conversational slack because the non-playing members are freer to listen to what's really happening.

The ultimate goal of role playing is active listening--to get to the point where you are so concerned with what's going on with the debtor that it's unnecessary to devote much energy to what you're thinking.

Using Debtor's Excuses to Your Advantage

The role-playing begins with either the debtor or the collector calling. The collector may know what the situation is all about or may know nothing at all. In preparing for the session, it's helpful to have each member write down problems they've encountered in recent days. Debtor excuses you can include:

* The manager is a friend. …

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