British Airline Pilots Association moves from paper to digital
Client Profile - Representing interests of UK pilots
The British Airline Pilots Association, or BALPA, is the professional association and registered trade union for pilots. BALPA, which is already recognised by more than 20 different airlines, represents 85% of all commercial pilots flying in the United Kingdom. BALPA is a top resource for pilots; the association has a team of experts in pilot qualifications, sharing their experience and providing support for members across the UK. Individual members give testimony to BALPA’s excellent service, crediting them with helping with returns to work, protecting pay and benefits and providing advice. Their headquarters consists of around forty staff, including the membership and finance teams, responsible for setting up and collecting member fees. The cost of joining is directly linked to the pilots’ salaries, making them variable amounts each year.
The Challenge - Goal to replace slow, manual paper signup process
Prior to them finding Eazy Collect, pilots who wanted to become members had to fill out paper forms for the BALPA membership team to process manually. The process was long winded as they had to send the DD to member, wait for it to come back, add the detail to TUMIS (their bespoke customer relationship management system) and post it to the bank. Then finance operations had to submit direct debit (DD) instructions over to BACS. By the turn of the millenium, BALPA knew they couldn’t continue with such a cumbersome paper-based signup and payment collection process. It was too time-consuming, often taking weeks to get a DD setup and involved manual data entry into TUMIS. Any changes of bank details, cancelling of memberships or rejoining were handled by the BALPA membership admin team, adding to the already-slow process.
With pilots’ high level of tech training, they expected a pain-free and convenient user experience - with the process available online. BALPA began to research how to create a seamless member sign up, direct debit setup and payment collections via their website. However, the proposed payments solution had to integrate seamlessly with BALPA’s CRM, requiring extensive work with third-party developers.
The Solution - Hands-on approach with third-party developers
Eazy Collect began working with BALPA in 2014, helping them define a new process and solution that would take their signup and direct debit setup from paper to digital.
To integrate their cloud-based direct debit software to the existing CRM system, TUMIS, Eazy Collect worked directly with the BALPA’s developers and remained on call for any issues BALPA faced throughout the development, testing and transition phases.
"Dave from Eazy Collect was very instrumental in taking us all through this..." shares Julie Rutley, BALPA Finance Manager and Treasurer, "With a new process, things inevitably do go wrong. Eazy Collect is always easy to get hold of and it’s never been too much trouble. Even though we were creating an electronic way of doing things, it was good to talk to real people."
The Impact - Seamless solution = collection success 99.85% on time
The complete Direct Debit and payment process is now done in 3 or 4 days rather than several weeks. New members can now quickly sign up for membership and direct debit directly on the BALPA website. Signup links are highly visible and easy to access, enabling the BALPA membership team to save time on admin tasks and focus on what matters.
Eazy Collect has enabled a streamlined direct debit process and solution for BALPA. It saves time and money because all advance notices are sent electronically, so there’s no printing, stuffing envelopes or postage required. It's even easier for changes to be made; where their membership dues increase annually, these can now be amended in bulk. Plus the new process provides greater flexibility for pilots who want to change any billing information. New members and any cancellations are now notified to us instantly, so BALPA can take action promptly.
BALPA’s membership team can confidently answer members’ direct debit and payment queries instantly; with Eazy Collect’s custom fields facility, it makes it easy to cross reference membership numbers with direct debit references quickly.
The comprehensive system reports allow them to quickly check who hasn’t paid and then follow-up as appropriate. Membership collection success rates are 99.85% on time. This type of information is available instantly, where previously it was troublesome to access it.