Case study University of Amsterdam: Better student payment results thanks to Mail to Pay
“The helpdesk is easily accessible and knowledgeable. I just call the number and am always helped very well, no matter who I get on the phone.”
Terence Verwer, Team Leader Student Debtors
The bank account of a student is something that would rarely be described as ‘flourishing’. This is known all too well in the Student Accounts Department at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Hogeschool of Amsterdam (HvA). In the monthly collection of tuition fees, there are always a number of payments which bounce or are simply not paid, and need active follow up.
Each month, reminders and payment follow ups that are sent by the accounts department are sent using the software application from Mail to Pay. “A user-friendly system that can handle very large quantities. We’re really happy with it”, says team leader Terence Verwer.
On any given day you’ll find approximately 95,000 students on the campuses of the UvA and the HvA. Some students make one full payment for their study fees, while the rest choose to spread the costs over ten monthly payments, collected by direct debit payments from their bank accounts. Approximately ten working days after the monthly payments are collected, the bank will confirm if the direct debit transaction is successful or not. "Seeing the number of bounced direct debit transactions, it’s still clear that this is not the best payment method for a good number of students” says Terence. “Within a week of the bank's notification, we send an e-mail including a payment link to these students so that they can still easily pay the outstanding amount, literally - a ‘mail to pay’ ”.
Terence is really happy with the software. “We have been working with Mail to Pay for two years now. A big advantage of their payment software is that nobody knows that the payments are collected via Mail to Pay. The e-mails with the reminders are simply our own logo. That inspires confidence. We also see that the percentage of successful payment from our students is much better since we started working with Mail to Pay.”
Terence notes that another advantage is of the user-friendliness of the application. “In the dashboard, we can see from a quick glance what the status is for a particular student. Has he/she already paid or not? And if not, is the email already read or unopened? Was the message successfully delivered?”
Sending large batches of emails
A big advantage of the Mail to Pay software is that the user can adjust the text in the messages themselves, according to Terence. “We have a lot of international students here, who want to communicate with us in English. So we have drawn up a Dutch and an English text for the messages we send. Then it is simple: for the reminders to english speaking students, we choose the template with the english text, upload the relevant student information that goes with it and send all messages at once. That’s also really great too: the system can handle large amounts of e-mails at the same time.”
The service around the software also deserves a good score, says Terence. “The helpdesk is easily accessible and knowledgeable. I just call the number and am always helped very well, no matter who I get on the phone. If someone cannot help me immediately, they will ensure that I am called back within a certain time - and that also happens.”
Mail to Pay thinks along with us
To ensure that the payment behavior of students improves, Terence’s department continuously looks at their processes. “Mail to Pay thinks along with us and presents ideas we may not have thought of. For example, we are now testing whether payment behavior improves if we send interim payment e-mails. Furthermore, we’re thinking about sending payment links via WhatsApp. But that is still something for the future, because then you also have to deal with different security and the new AVG laws. But also: how do students experience such a message? Does it have enough weight to encourage them to pay? Such things are also reflected in our semi-annual progress meeting with Mail to Pay and the large annual evaluation meeting we have with each other. I like that despite the fact that Mail to Pay is growing so fast, they know how to stick to the core of their services and always keep looking at the customer needs. I think that is important as a customer.”
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