CDS Co-operatives is a housing association that provides services to around 3,500 homes on behalf of 46 independent primary housing co-operatives. When CDS was looking for a more efficient and cost-effective way to manage its cash payment operations, The Co-operative Bank provided the answer through its Payment Collection Service.
“We were attracted to The Co-operative Bank solution because it offered all the new methods of payment we were seeking to introduce in one contract,” says Stephen Brown, Administration Manager & Society Secretary at CDS. “And as a co-operative organisation we were keen to support another co-operative organisation that shares our values.”
Tailored to meet their needs
Part of an expansive portfolio of specialist provision for the public sector, The Co-operative Bank’s Payment Collection Service is a fully automated payment system that is helping CDS to achieve the ultimate goals of saving money, reducing administration and improving levels of customer service.
Before signing up to the bank’s Payment Collection Service, CDS’ customers could only pay their rent by cheque, by standing order or by using a payment card. But the card was only accepted at a limited range of outlets. Uniquely, The Co-operative Bank is the only provider that has a payment collection agreement with all three major payment networks; The Post Office®, PayPoint and Payzone. This provides access to a nationwide network of over 53,000 payment outlets, thereby offering CDS and its customers more choice and convenience.
“With The Co-operative Bank solution we’ve introduced a payment card that is accepted by all three payment networks, giving our customers much more flexibility in where they can pay their rent,” says Stephen. “And we’ve also been able to introduce Direct Debits and payment by debit card over the phone or on the internet. This has given much more
flexibility to our customers in how they pay their rent and service charge.”
A close working relationship
CDS also has access to an experienced and dedicated Relationship Manager and a Payment Collection Service Team who have worked with them every step of the way to implement the new payment system – resulting in mutual benefits for CDS, its customers and the bank.
“We have a Relationship Manager and the advantage of this approach is a single point of contact. As the project has progressed we had formal review points that enabled us to feed back as to how things were going and adjust the programme to suit,” says Stephen. “It’s also helped the whole thing run much more smoothly than it might otherwise have done. And, we’ve had the opportunity to contribute ideas for developments for the future.”
For Stephen, transparency was also essential to CDS. “Another advantage of The Co-operative Bank solution is that our branding appears on all of the paperwork; the customers’ bank statements and the website pages that customers see, which means they know exactly who they are paying. But the bank deals with all the associated security and technical issues, so we can be confident that potential data protection issues are dealt with.”
Enjoying the benefits
More than ever, housing organisations need a financial partner that can offer a comprehensive portfolio of products and services, supported by knowledge and expertise. For Stephen, the benefits of being a customer couldn’t be clearer. “The Co-operative Bank adds value because they listen to our ideas. They’ve given us a solution that’s economical and transparent. We now have multiple methods of payment through a single contract. It’s a real advantage to work with an organisation that shares our principles.”
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