Achieving quality agent outcomes through quality training

Written by Ian Barker Small headshot image of Ian Barker, Managing Partner at BFY Group.
13 Jul 2023
Debt Customer Service People and Culture

To kick off our Driving Agent Outcomes series, we’re focussing on Debt Collection. Understandably, this topic has been top of the agenda since the cost of living crisis began, and this position remains justified with the heightened challenges posed by rising inflation, alongside our projections for continued bill increases in 2023/24.

At this stage in the crisis, agents need to be highly skilled, highly resilient, and highly empathetic. Collections processes will be pushed to their limits as we head into winter, with contact centre agents requiring sufficient expertise to navigate the intricacies of debt collection, while maintaining high levels of customer service.

Turning agents into experts

As we see customer indebtedness continue to rise, you may be feeling that your contact teams aren’t delivering the outcomes you want, possibly lacking the expertise required to weather the storm. Although it’s natural to have these concerns given the extreme nature of the current debt landscape, it’s important that you avoid knee-jerk reactions, and focus your efforts towards building expertise within your teams.

Developing this expertise will come as a function of natural talent/skill, agent tenure, and crucially – the training needed to resolve customer issues effectively, and compliantly.

Take it from the top

Mobilising the delivery of training is best achieved from a top-down perspective, starting with Team Leaders and Managers.

Adopting this approach will help you to make a wider impact at a faster rate, getting ‘scores on the doors’, while encouraging the sharing of learnings and best practice in weekly coaching sessions with agents. Rolling training out across all agents will be a significant investment, but the pay-off will be equally as substantial.

So where should the focus of this training lie? Agents will need to be skilled in the following areas:

  • Knowledge of the industry and the CRM/billing system
  • Communication skills
  • Negotiation
  • Empathy

By developing competence in these areas, the tricky balance between effective debt management and customer support becomes more achievable for agents, allowing you to reach fair and favourable outcomes quicker.

During the cost of living crisis, we’ve seen clients deploy highly skilled agents to handle customers facing significant financial challenges, through what was labelled as an ‘Empathy Hub’. In return, they saw a substantial uplift in customer engagement and rehabilitation, showing that the proof is in the pudding when it comes to agent expertise.

Look out for the next article in our Driving Agent Outcomes series, where we focus on 'Leveraging data driven insight to empower agent performance'.

Ian Barker

Ian shapes the BFY vision and inspires our team to bring it to life, while remaining central to complex client engagements in Strategy, Commercial, and Operations.

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Small headshot image of Ian Barker, Managing Partner at BFY Group.