Change for Good

Making a change to improve existing systems can be difficult and may seem risky. Will current functionality be maintained? What costs will be incurred? Will improvements actually be made? When it comes to Name, Address and Bank data validation, hundreds of organisations are switching to AFD Software. StepChange Debt Charity, the UK’s leading debt charity who have been helping people deal with problem debt for 20 years, is one. Here is their story, could it be yours?


 Free from Debt, Free from Inaccuracy

Operating from ten locations across the UK, StepChange Debt Charity helps thousands of people every week overcome serious debt problems. As a charity it is not driven by the need for profit or by shareholder pressure. This means its advisors are able to offer expert tailored advice and practical solutions, genuinely in the best interests of clients. During his 18 years at StepChange Debt Charity, implementing and developing IT systems, John Patterson has seen significant growth. When he started with the charity, then named Consumer Credit Counselling Service it had 60 employees. Now, as StepChange Debt Charity, there are 1200 employees and John is Infrastructure Manager. Growth inevitably involves change. We met with John high above Leeds, in the charity’s city centre Head Office. We asked him about the data challenges he has experienced during rapid growth – and how AFD Software and Services are helping


 The Importance of certainty

“The effectiveness of our processes and systems rely on the entry of accurate data. This can be quite a challenge but it is vital, especially in connection with address data. 60% of potential clients call us and typically we receive 1,500 – 2,000 calls per day. Of these, 40% become clients and are supported in dealing with their debts through a personal Debt Management Plan. There are many reasons address data must be right for the Debt Management Plan to work effectively:

  • Each client agrees to maintain contact with StepChange Debt Charity. We send lots of correspondence, the majority by post. StepChange Debt Charity contact the client’s creditors – it is surprising how many clients get creditor details wrong.
  • Clients often don’t remember or know the full extent of their debts. A valid address enables us to carry out a voluntary credit check to build a complete picture of money owed.
  • Repayment plans often rely on Direct Debits, which require accurate contact data.
  • In the UK some addresses are very difficult to capture accurately. For example tenements in Scotland, obscure street and locality names, or simply addresses that are very long.”

Precise contact data

For each of these reasons StepChange Debt Charity decided to incorporate the unique fast find functions within AFD Postcode Plus – across its multiple systems. Even the most difficult or incomplete address information offered by clients is now quickly resolved to a single accurate address. This results in high levels of service to clients and creditors.

Simple maintenance, lower costs
John continued: “AFD assigned a Data Quality Consultant who worked with us throughout the process of changing from our existing address validation system to AFD Postcode Plus. He helped us fully explore and clarify our needs across all three internal systems. The proof of concept was complete in just two days. We now enjoy:

  • Automatic data and program updates – cutting our internal IT costs
  • A resilient, consistent single service – straightforward with minimal maintenance
  • Security, by having AFD installed on our own servers
  • Transparent licensing – our compliance is assured, and we take this seriously
  • Price stability for the duration of the agreement
  • Flexibility in accommodating our changing requirements.”

Refreshing Change
John concluded: “We hadn’t realised just how easy AFD Software had made it for us to change to Postcode Plus. The savings and new levels of simplicity are refreshing.”

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We are here to help

We serve thousands of organisations and a network of hundreds of partners across multiple industry sectors, enabling them to have full confidence in their contact data.