Webinar recap: How to stop the riskiest agent mistakes

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You’ve never been able to listen to every call from every agent. 

But in the era of remote work, when consumer finance teams aren’t even necessarily in the same room, how do you know if your agents are causing problems before they snowball into angry customers, fines, or a lawsuit?

Never fear, Prodigal is here to help! We brought together two consumer finance leaders with nearly 50 years of experience between them to talk about how to stop the riskiest agent mistakes.

Check out the recording or peek at the recap below.

What agent mistakes are the biggest risks?

The riskiest mistakes, explained Zenon Butts, President of General Revenue Corporation, are the ones that end in litigation, and those generally come from two sources.

“One is the behavior of the collector on the phone. And the second piece is the do not call request, where the agent either chose not to hear it, or they heard it, but they didn't make the necessary documentation or take the number out of the system.”

The majority of agent mistakes - fortunately! - don’t end in lawsuits. But those mistakes can still be a big deal.

 “Our client’s reputation is at stake because we are an extension of the client. The last thing that we want is that particular consumer going back to a client and feeling that they were wronged or feeling that they weren't heard. And you're not going to end up with a resolution at that point,” Zenon added.

Four keys to stopping risky agent mistakes in their tracks

1. Culture

Our panelists agreed that the foundation of stopping agent mistakes comes with culture.

Tomekia Mitchell, QA/Compliance Manager and Extended Business Office Manager at Rash Curtis & Associates, talked about how companies choose to incentivize collectors makes a difference in how they work.

Focusing on bonuses, she explained, “creates a culture of, ‘How much can I get? How soon can I get it?’”

But a large part of Tomekia’s team deals with medical debt, so she wants a culture of empathy more than a culture of greed. 

“You’re going to have somebody get on the line and tell you why that debt was generated. It could be from cancer, it could be from a child passing away, and you have to have some sort of compassion coming into the door, and that's what I look for in the onboarding process.”

Zenon agreed, which is why he encourages a focus on QA scores at the start. “When we have end-of-month celebrations, we're recognizing top performers and training for QA scores. Because if you make it too much about money early on, you'll have collectors push the envelope to get their name in lights from a fee perspective, where if you push the QA score, in recognizing that in the first 60 days or so, we know that they can handle it.”

2. Training

After setting the bar with culture, Zenon and Tomekia both stressed the importance of training in stopping mistakes - both for new hires and continuing professional development.

“I set myself up for training to let my new hires know that we cannot get by the laws. I really stress that all throughout the first 30 days, and when you're done with my class, it is still stressed in your audits.” Tomekia said.

And the training to keep agents on track happens in multiple ways and at multiple times.

“We spend an extensive amount of time listening to calls - not only their own calls, but they listen to our top performer calls. So what they can see is, ‘Hey, here's our top performers, they're inside the lines, they're inside the policy or procedure with what we expect.’ So we give them the ability to hear what it looks like to be a top performer, but do it the correct way,” Zenon said of GRC’s practices.

3. Evaluation

There’s a difference between agents who make innocent mistakes and agents who intentionally skirt or defy policies and laws.

“I'm human first - people are people, and you want to give somebody a chance,” Tomekia said

But that doesn’t mean agents have carte blanche.

“I have an open door policy. I always preach in my class that anytime that you have a suggestion, or a mistake, or anything like that, we want to address it. And being proactive about that shows your character.”

The remote work environment has made evaluations tricky, Zenon said, which is one of the reasons GRC has learned to rely on technology to help them.

“When we were back on site, agents wouldn’t cross the line as much because their neighbors can hear it, their team leader can hear it, they're on the floor, it's really hard to get loud or to be abusive. Now we're 100% collector remote, so we have no choice but to make sure that everybody's compliant through tools. And we have to have facts, and we have to have data and you have to have recordings.”

4. Technology

Which brings us to using technology to get in front of those agent mistakes.

With multiple offshore teams, Tomekia had already realized the value of using technology to keep connected with her agents from a distance.

For training, she prefers to keep it in person. “I like to see my class, I like to see their faces, their mannerisms, I can look and see who I'm losing, when we need to get a break, things like that. So from the technology point of view we do a little of both.”

And while we didn’t ask Zenon and Tomekia to talk about Prodigal, we’re honored that they both credited our solutions with transforming their teams as well as helping to stop agent mistakes.

“What Prodigal does is gives us the ability to score and monitor 100% of our phone calls. Without that you have a few QA agents doing their best to monitor as many calls as they can, but it's random, and you're just simply not casting a wide enough net. Now, every call is scored. 

“The team leaders now do not have the ability to put their head in the sand and say, ‘Well, I didn't know that they were doing that.’ They now have all the scores up front, they have all the reporting, they have the red flag reporting, they have everything that they need to run the most dynamic team but also the most compliant team,” Zenon said.

Tomekia also said Prodigal’s solutions have made a huge difference for her.

“I know what I was doing before Prodigal: I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, because there were thousands of calls that I literally could not listen to. And as a QA manager, that bothers you. Because you know there's something in those calls, and some teachable moments in there that I could use. Or someone was on the cusp of losing it and I missed it. Prodigal has put that all where I can just pick and choose and put in keywords and find those types of calls immediately.”

Shout out to Kevin MacKenzie, the hardest working man in product marketing, who puts together these amazing webinars.