Collection Success: The Art and Science of Mental Rehearsal

Collection Success: The Art and Science of Mental Rehearsal
Another year of Collector.Live! content is in the books, and the speakers did not disappoint. Negotiation expert Joshua Weiss spoke about negotiation tactics front line collectors can use to improve call outcomes and Joann Needleman of Clark Hill discussed digital communication with consumers. Another inspiring speaker, Mike Hiller of American Profit Recovery, discussed the benefits of mental rehearsal for improving your behaviors when negotiating debt collection payments.

What Mental Rehearsal is NOT

Before discussing what mental rehearsal is and how it can improve your collection practices, Hiller was careful to explain what the concept is NOT. 

Some may confuse the practice with something called neuro linguistic programming. Hiller notes that NLP – a pseudoscience that has not been proven effective – has nothing to do with the practice of mental rehearsal.

What is Mental Rehearsal

When learning about mental rehearsal, it’s important to understand that it is a proven tactic that can help anyone who wants to improve the way they perform. It has been put through the process of the scientific method and can be reproduced.
Collection Success: The Art and Science of Mental Rehearsal

Mental Rehearsal Definition
Mental rehearsal is the act of practicing a task inside your head instead of physically enacting it. Hiller quotes Dr. Srini Pillay, who has found that imaginary practice stimulates the same regions in our brains when visualizing an action that are stimulated when actually performing that action. Some people report naturally practicing mental rehearsal without being taught how, but it is something anyone can learn.

Why Use Mental Rehearsal in Debt Collection?

Why should front line collectors use mental rehearsal to improve job performance? Hiller explains that doing so can help agents to make sure they’re not overlooking important parts of their work. 

By practicing mentally, people have been found to still gain the same benefits they would have from physically practicing the same activity. The added benefit, however, is the chance to catch mistakes and avoid real-world consequences of those mistakes. This way, those practicing this technique can work to improve while eliminating errors.

Collection Success: The Art and Science of Mental Rehearsal Learning Techniques

Learning Techniques

During his presentation, Hiller discussed three different types of learning that help humans absorb and retain information. These types of learning can be applied for work and in daily life to improve efficacy. 

Implicit Learning
Implicit learning is unconscious absorption and imitation of information – learning without learning. This can be explained by learning new information or picking up new habits without intending to. For example, if you hear a coworker use specific phrasing on a call, you may then find yourself using this same phrasing on your own calls without intending to.

Associative Learning
Hiller explains associative learning as “the ability to perceive and adapt to relationships in our environment.” In other words, associative learning takes place based on the input you receive from your surroundings. In collections, many agents participate in this learning style when noticing the consumer’s tone of voice or the types of questions they ask and make adjustments accordingly.

Visualization (Perspective Taking)

Visualization, also known as perspective taking, can be done any time or place. It is done by envisioning conversations one may have or scenarios they might encounter and practicing the appropriate ways to respond.  

This type of learning can help agents better understand those they interact with by considering the other person’s point of view. Hiller suggests when visualizing an audience, think about: 

  • What consumers want
  • Who they are 
  • How they feel 
  • What type of circumstances they may be in

This type of learning can help agents practice conversations and even reverse how it might feel if they were the audience and someone was speaking to them this way. For debt collection, perspective taking is especially helpful in practicing empathy with consumers. 

Empathy is an essential collection tool to build consumer connections and succeed in closing accounts. Hiller says that call scripts can help agents create these visualizations and practice having mock calls any time. 

If your agency doesn’t provide scripts to work with, but agents still wish to use this tactic, Hiller suggests using knowledge and past experience to create your own.

5 Collection Call Script Questions Answered by Industry Leaders

Putting it All Together: Art and Science

Hiller says that there are two sides of collections that work together to create effective execution. The science of collections, based on proven facts, is the foundation on which the practices and techniques are based. The art of collections is the other half of the equation. It involves executing these techniques in an effective manner.

Science of Collections: Proven Facts
The science of collections involves using techniques such as mental rehearsal, that have been scientifically proven to be effective. This science gives you the tools you will need to maximize collection success.

Art of Collections: Putting it Into Practice

The art of collections is the practice of taking the scientific tools you’ve been presented, and implementing them in an elegant, natural flow during each consumer interaction. The better your collection science is, the more confidence agents will have to execute high quality consumer interactions and a consistent basis.

Using call scripts to guide mental rehearsal can help agents to prepare for consumer interactions while adhering to your agency's compliance guidelines. For more information on the benefits of call scripts, the elements they should contain, and more, download the Call Scripting for Debt Collection guide.

Download the Call Scripting for Debt Collection guide
Share this post!
Hannah Huerta - PDCflow Marketing Specialist
Hannah Huerta, Marketing Specialist

Hannah Huerta is a Marketing Specialist at PDCflow. She creates content for the accounts receivable and payment industry.

LinkedIn - Hannah Huerta

Related Articles
CollectorLive Recap: Improving the Debt Collection Process
Education and Motivation for your Debt Collection Team