6 Direct Debit New Year’s Resolutions for 2017
2017 is well underway and we hope the Christmas period passed smoothly without any problems to deal with. In the spirit of the New Year and the optimism that brings, we’ve put together a list of New Year Resolutions that will help you manage your direct debit processes better.
- Keep on top of the latest changes to the Direct Debit rules
The direct debit rules are updated every year in January. The latest set of direct debit rules are now on the BACS website and go live on 31st January. You can read more about the changes to the direct debit rules here. They include lots of changes around Indemnity claims. There are also changes to paperless sign up methods and the introduction of e signatures. Make sure you’re on top of the rules and make any changes necessary to your procedures and documentation as a result.
- Make sure you have a back up plan
However vigilant you are, it’s almost inevitable that at one time or another, you will experience a Direct Debit emergency. Don’t sit around and wait for this to happen – create a back up plan and make sure everyone in your organisation knows what to do if there is a problem. As a minimum, we’d suggest that you make sure you have an offsite back up of your data with spare smart cards. If your organisation is a direct submitter consider engaging a direct debit bureau as a contingency plan.
- Implement AUDDIS and Paperless Direct Debit (PDD)
If you still run your direct debits on a manual system and post direct debit instructions to the bank then we’d recommend you look at AUDDIS, the Automated Direct Debit Instruction Service which allows the submission of direct debit instructions electronically. If you’re live on AUDDIS but haven’t yet switched to PDD this is another opportunity that is worth exploring this year. Organisations that use PDD have better sign up statistics than those that don’t, and it’s much easier than you might think, especially with the option of telephone sign up. PDD will become even more attractive with the opportunities to use electronic signatures, introduced with the new rules, alongside traditional paperless options
- Review your software options
Cloud based direct debit solutions offer considerable benefits over software installed on your premises. They are more resilient, intuitive and can offer better user interfaces. They do not require the constant updating of software either as this is done ‘in the cloud’. As an alternative, consider outsourcing your direct debit activities to a direct debit bureau. Not only does this solve the problem of software maintenance costs, there are other advantages from using a direct debit bureau. These include reduced risk to your business as the bureau takes responsibility for getting the paperwork to BACS and a flexible service that can easily and quickly adapt depending on how many transactions you process. Many bureaux charge fixed monthly fees which represent significant savings compared to running direct debits in-house.
- Review your collection dates
Many companies and organisations that collect once a year – membership subscriptions, for example – will have just collected on the first working day of January. This is traditionally the worst day to collect as no one has any money after Christmas! While this is an extreme example, it’s worth checking that your collection dates suit your target audience – many people are paid on the 28th of the month, so they may be happy for collection to happen on the first of the month but in some sectors payment may be on a different date, and customers might prefer collection on a different date.
- Make sure your staff are trained and up to date
The success of using direct debits for your business relies heavily on the effectiveness of your staff in administering the scheme. Keeping them current means that they will be able to deliver the best service to your customers and avoid some of the high profile criticisms that have been aimed at businesses that have not handled direct debits correctly. Find an experienced and reliable direct debit training provider and make sure your staff are signed up for appropriate courses to keep their knowledge up to date. We’ve already updated our training packages to cover the latest changes in the direct debit rules that we mentioned above.
If your intentions to do more exercise or to cut down on the unhealthy snacks are already faltering by the way side, feel good about yourself and your New Year’s Resolutions by adopting one – or all of these – and sticking with them! And if you need any support, get in touch with us on 0845 658 6488 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org