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Founded in 1999, Callstream Limited provides cloud-based call management technology to the UK insurance, travel and retail markets.
Customers include Unity Insurance Services, Virgin Holidays and Maplin. Based in Birmingham, the company employs 18 people and has a turnover of £9 million.
Callstream Limited appreciates the benefits of cloud-based IT solutions. As one of the earliest adopters of the PTX Payments and Business Solutions Suite, it’s been using new technology for over two years. Having switched from a conventional on-premises payment system, it enjoys a simpler user interface for more efficient Direct Debit collections.
“Before implementing PTX, we relied on an on-premises payment solution from Bottomline. Licensed on two computers, the software had begun to feel limited”.
It would not have been easy to move it and any hardware failures posed an operational risk. Some users also found the process of submitting monthly Direct Debits had too many manual steps.
Callstream then noticed how other businesses had switched their payment processes to new cloud-based solutions. The technology offered a simple way to deploy payment software for anywhere, anytime access. A more modern solution also promised much better ease of use.
The company had enjoyed a strong historical relationship with Bottomline and had experienced no system problems. However, there was an increasing need to streamline the whole payment process and improve working efficiency. A thorough evaluation of potential products saw PTX as the most cost-effective solution. It offered superior usability and would save time when taking Direct Debits.
The implementation went very smoothly and included project management, testing and training. The latter was provided out of office hours by request, a service that was much appreciated by busy Callstream personnel. The company makes direct submissions to the Bacs service and so authorisation is still via Smart Cards and readers.
For management accountant Nikhil Patel who joined Callstream six months after its implementation, PTX is an essential working tool. He also appreciates the reasons why PTX was chosen as a solution over the alternatives. It’s all about getting the job right in the shortest possible time.
“New staff find PTX very easy to pick up thanks to a user-friendly interface,” says Nikhil Patel, Management Accountant.
Around 70% of the company’s customers are on Direct Debit with collections currently totalling around £400,000 per month. The company uses Sage Line 50 for its accounts and Union Street’s ability as the billing platform.
The transaction volumes are currently 640 Direct Debits each month. New customer account details are taken using mandates from a handful of new customers in the same period. Four people are authorised to use PTX of which two are the main users. PTX allows for roles to be structured including the administration and approval steps.
Patel comments “We’ve been able to manage our Direct Debits very easily and make amendments quickly. We can make any additional collections within the month easily too.”
The routine work of maintaining customer details and submitting Direct Debit collection files is efficiently handled by PTX. This saves time and money over the previous system. What’s more, the work can be done from any PC rather than a dedicated payment platform. There are no more worries about potential hardware failures either.
“Once our bills have been generated each month from our billing platform, the Direct Debit process now takes us a few hours, whereas before the process could take up to a day or more.” Nikhil Patel, Management Accountant
Callstream has a rigorous method of checking that all the payments due are properly collected. This relies on the Bacs reports available through PTX.
“We now have a routine of checking Bacs messages. This gives us enough time to manage any amendments customers have made to Direct Debit details or to see if any have cancelled,” says Patel.
A detailed amendments spreadsheet is also kept of any accounts that have been overcharged or have been paid on account. This provides a detailed history of any changes and, if required, allows Callstream to know what references to use for any future collections.
In comparison to the old payments system, PTX provides a much simpler and faster submissions process overall. It is refreshingly straightforward with much greater visibility and control. Callstream has found reporting to be instant, allowing for any account problems be quickly spotted and corrected. All these improvements allow finance staff to spend more time on other tasks.
Any functional queries about PTX are swiftly and efficiently handled by Bottomline. As a cloud service, PTX is also updated by Bottomline which removes any software maintenance worries. This includes Bacs updates such as the major security changes which happened in 2016. Callstream has therefore been happy to recommend PTX to other potential users including City Numbers, a sister company.
“Callstream is part of a global group called j2 Global Inc. We have already set City Numbers a plan to have PTX implemented. This is currently work in progress,” says Patel.
"Once our bills have been generated each month from our billing platform, the Direct Debit process now takes us a few hours, whereas before the process could take up to a day or more." Nikhil Patel | Management Accountant | Callstream Limited
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