Student accommodation provider switches to online direct debit collections
A leading provider of student accommodation in the UK, Campus Living Villages is realising their vision of building safe, sociable student villages with a strong sense of community. They pride themselves on offering more than just a place to live. Their aim is to give students the best experience possible, with trained staff providing mental health support, financial advice and a high-quality residential life programme.
They have student villages in 12 cities and with over 13,000 tenants, the company has a high volume of payments to manage. As the Technical Business Analyst for Campus Living Villages, Ben’s role is to find technical solutions for issues like this; they knew an online system would streamline the process for setting up direct debits.
The Challenge - Moving to online direct debit set up
When the Campus Living Villages team first approached Eazy Collect, they were using paper forms returned by post to set up direct debits for their tenants. Managing accounts for each location was complex: tenants had to print out the form and fill it in, then post it back to them.
Once the property team had entered their details into the system, the finance team had to set up rental charges and handle the files, sending them via BACS submission software. This process required resource from different teams.
“We needed to bring our system up to date and go paperless,” said Ben Hindle, the company’s Technical Business Analyst. “Not only to reduce the admin work for our team, but also to streamline the student experience from that first point of contact.”
The Solution - Using Eazy Collect to streamline the process
As well as seeking ways to reduce the administration and resulting costs, the Campus Living Villages team was keen to work with a company that would provide a high level of development support. Crucially, they planned to host their own web pages to facilitate the direct debit payment set up but wanted to integrate these, to share data back to their system via an API.
“We approached three direct debit collections companies. One of the key considerations was how easily our own systems would integrate with theirs, along with the flexibility to update and improve this if required. Throughout the initial calls, we wanted to gauge how well we’d be supported going forward. With the number of bank accounts to link to, we knew our requirements weren’t straightforward. Eazy Collect’s team have been really good from the start. They’re always open to our ideas and they’ve been very responsive about what we’ve wanted to do, and how best to do it.”
The Impact - for direct debit payments and lower debts
Since using Eazy Collect to set up their direct debit collections online, Campus Living Villages has experienced significantly higher sign-up rates for direct debit payments. Automating the collections process has also improved their cash flow with fewer debts.
“We’re finding everything is working really well. Set ups for new students are much quicker, and Eazy Collect’s reliable, automated collections process means we have less debt to chase,” reported Ben. “When we’ve had internal technical issues, they’ve assisted us in dealing with those too.”
The burden of administering payments has been eliminated. “We’ve been able to reduce the resource required and made cost savings. The people who were doing that work can now focus on other things, improving other areas of the business.”
The online set up system gives student tenants a better customer experience too. “From the customer perspective, it’s the expected way to do things now,” said Ben. “And from a business perspective, it fits our system. It gives us flexibility for the future.”