Stephensons sees uptake in travel passes after implementing Direct Debit Service
Stephensons of Essex provides friendly, efficient and reliable local bus and school services across Essex and West Suffolk. In 2017, Stephensons was awarded the Top Independent Operator at the UK Bus Awards. To make travel easier for students, Stephensons offers an annual SchoolSmart travel pass which covers school journeys in the Essex and Suffolk area.
The SchoolSmart travel pass replaces the need for cash when travelling on a Stephensons bus giving students and parents a more straightforward means of school travel. The instant tap pass is secure, as it is only accepted on pre-approved routes, to get students safely to and from their place of study.
The Challenge - Upfront term tickets aren't budget-friendly for most parents
PayPoint wanted to offer a MultiPay product for their clients who manage a large number of transactions every day. To deliver it, they needed a flexible platform where their client's customers could make payments choosing from multiple payment options.
Given its popularity with UK consumers, direct debit was an important payment choice that was missing, but they faced several initial challenges: Where would they start? How would they build out this system and guarantee it was secure? How long would the development for this platform take?
The Stephensons SchoolSmart travel pass has been available online since 2015. However, parents had to go online and enter their credit card details to purchase it. There were no "budget-friendly" options available for parents to spread out the payment and ease the cost, they had to pay in full, and re-enter their details year after year. Customer Service Manager, Michael Greenway, deals with all types of general enquiries from parents - including payments for the annual passes.
The Solution - Direct Debit allows parents to spread out payments and renew passes easier
Stephensons’ third party web development team, TravelNet recommended implementing the direct debit services, because they knew Eazy Collect could offer an integrated collections service for the annual passes. Stephensons had never offered direct debit services before, so this was a key step forward for Stephensons business model.
Paying by direct debit would allow annual travel pass customers to continue purchasing online, yet spread out payments with monthly instalments. It also enables automatic renewal of the passes each year, eliminating some of the administrative burden. Additionally, Eazy Collect's direct debit services would provide the Stephensons team with transparent reporting.
The Outcome - Uptake on annual tickets, effective reporting and excellent client services
Michael, who is responsible for overseeing all front-facing customer service and ticketing related issues, shares that since implementing Eazy Collect, direct debit services have not only helped with administrative work but has overall been better suited for the Stephenson business.
"We've seen an uptake on annual tickets. It has been far better now that our customers have the option to spread payments over eight months."
Eazy Collect direct debit helps over 400 families with their SchoolSmart travel pass purchases. Michael is able to monitor payment defaults and exceptions from Eazy Collect’s automated reporting.
"With Eazy Collect in place, administrative work is more convenient because when customers do direct debit, we issue an annual ticket. The only thing we look out for is a default in payment, which shows up on the report."
Working in customer services himself, Michael also appreciates impeccable client services when he sees it.
"Based on my personal experience with their team, I would absolutely recommend Eazy Collect’s services to others. Eazy Collect’s level of service is fantastic. I can pick the phone up, and someone will answer… and will know straight away who I am. It’s actually a very personal service."