Success Speaks: How Roanoke College Simplified Higher Education Billing and Commerce
Campus commerce has quickly become the ultimate test for payment software providers, IT professionals and administrators. Technology stacks and service offerings are continuously challenged by rapid innovation, just as budgets have begun to shrink. And to top it off, cybersecurity threats lurk around every corner, and even a single breach can destroy student confidence in their institution of higher learning.
It is against this backdrop that Virginia’s Roanoke College, working with ACI and Ellucian, transformed its payments to meet student demands, secure precious data and simplify campus commerce. Roanoke has shared insights into how they were able to accomplish this in our latest Success Speaks webinar.
Bridging the gap between student expectations and campus commerce technology
The first challenge in delivering payments transformation in higher education is to better understand the needs and wants of students and their families. “Parents are the payers and the ones driving our business,” Mitzi Steele, database director at Roanoke College, told us. “We need to be aware of the changes that make their payments experience more beneficial, and less scary.”
Demands are generally centered around the payment experiences students and their families are most familiar with – typically online shopping. This is the gauge against which all payments are measured, requiring institutions like Roanoke to reconsider their payment and billing offerings.
“The biggest changes we’ve seen are how people want to use technology — the use of more devices, (like smartphones and tablets), and being able to deliver security for these devices. It used to be that consumers could go to a website and log in, but now they want to have that experience on other devices and want to make sure those devices are secure,” said Steele.
Modernizing the platform
Sandra Jackson, business office manager at Roanoke College, acknowledged that parents and students today have higher expectations for their payment experiences. To not only meet, but exceed these expectations, she says, Roanoke has had to work hard to keep its systems updated, noting that the work of IT departments is never done.
To help alleviate the stress felt by overworked IT departments, Jackson recommends making periodic reviews a priority. “Reviewing vendor relationships and contracts periodically to see what has changed and what new features exist helps to keep us current. For our staff, it’s much better to take a step back and examine new features that can add to the benefits.”
Steele added, “We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve; we have a good relationship with ACI, and we use Ellucian, so we’re always listening and being made aware of what’s coming.”
While adding new features is important, security is always top of mind for Roanoke. Every implementation revolves around the idea of making students feel confident that their information is secure.
Though retail experiences may drive expectations, they certainly do not account for the range of challenges faced by colleges and universities. Jackson relayed a unique challenge facing campuses; “Student accounts are in the students’ names, but a large percentage of payers are parents. We must have pathways to allow the parents to pay without students being logged in.”
Other areas of concern included:
- High-volume periods for payments, such as during pre-registration or housing selection
- Balance holds can cause stress for students and families, especially for the 49 percent of students and parents who sometimes pay higher education tuition late
- Implementation of scholarship funds in a timely, accurate fashion
- Financial aid being added to an account from an outside source
All these instances must be addressed by campus commerce to ensure a satisfying, stress-free payments experience.
Delivering a better campus commerce experience
Working with ACI and Ellucian technology, Roanoke transformed its payments platform to address not only student demands, but also market demands.
One major advancement is the enablement of 24/7 eBilling. “When you go to eBilling, 24/7 availability is one of the biggest steps you make,” notes Jackson. “That’s what really enables students and parents to pay at their convenience, not just during our office hours.”
The team likened its new campus commerce billing and payments experience to online banking, where it’s possible to have a real-time view. Gen Z’s demand for immediate, accurate information makes this essential, so giving students the ability to see their accounts updated immediately offers them a greater feeling of connectivity – and relief when it comes to their payments.
Sandra and Mitzi were adamant that institutions should make the exploration of payment technologies part of their ongoing agenda. They recommend that teams set up periodic reviews to re-evaluate processes and speak with vendors about what’s new and what’s coming in the near future.
They also recommend that institutions commit to the idea of vendors as partners. They were quick to credit the close relationship with ACI as an innovation driver; one that has helped Roanoke College both add revenue and cut expenses.
Listen to the entire Success Speaks with Roanoke webinar to gain insights into just-released data on consumer payment preferences that can help you build an unbeatable strategy for 2019. For more information on how you can enhance your campus commerce experience, please visit www.aciworldwide.com/highered.
Related Blog Posts
The Race to Real-Time Payments in Europe
Instant payments have quickly morphed into the new norm, and as individual European nations forge a real-time, digital-first payments environment, they raise the bar for all financial institutions conducting business in the Eurozone. It’s no longer a question of “what’s the business case?” but a matter of how instant payments players can take advantage of the opportunities now being created.
Keeping Up With Fraudsters: A Month Isn’t Enough
As the Government of Canada campaigns for improved fraud prevention and awareness this month, I’d like to do my part as a fellow Canadian, and shed some light on why payments need to stay a step (or more) ahead of fraudsters, today more than ever.
Local Perspectives: Real-Time Realities Across Asia-Pacific in 2019
Money20/20 Asia returns to Singapore this week, attracting payments professionals from around the vast APAC region – and beyond. The real-time and open imperative is one of the reasons why all eyes are on Asia-Pacific when it comes to payments, so I caught up with ACI payments experts representing three of the key countries within the region, to take the pulse of real-time schemes that are in varying stages of maturity.
What it Takes to be an ‘Influential Woman in Payments’ [Q&A]
Coming off the back of International Women’s Day this past weekend, PaymentsSource has recognized the Most Influential Women in Payments, spanning multiple industries including financial services, retail, investment and technology. Among the honorees is ACI’s very own Carolyn Homberger, group president, global sales. Part of the executive leadership team at ACI, Carolyn leads a team of payments professionals operating across all global regions, and plays a critical role in setting business strategy. As an advocate for the leadership and growth of women in the payments industry, Carolyn is also responsible for launching ACI’s own Women’s Initiative.
Instant and Open Payments for Consumer Purchases – Lessons Learned From India and Beyond
Did you know that 65% of merchants want to accept instant payments? That’s because they know the customer experience (CX) benefits will drive growth for their business, and they recognize that this payment type will save their business money.
What it Means for a Bank to be Real-Time Ready – It’s More Than Just Payments
Banks are quickly learning that real-time enablement of the business is more than just a technological upgrade – there is a wider challenge of transforming services and customer experience. Although the banking world faces this challenge with some trepidation, there are success stories from other industries that have overcome legacy technologies and transformed frustrating and opaque customer experiences.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Digital Transformation
The recent headline grabbing announcement that Banco Santander has signed a USD $700M contract with IBM got me thinking… what’s up with ‘Digital Transformation’ these days? Santander’s announcement was all about digital transformation… and they are a forward-thinking bank. The new global technology agreement is designed to increase efficiencies in the bank’s operations, enable it to be more innovative and deliver new products, faster. But not every bank can pony up $700M and not every bank has suitable technology in place. It got me thinking, what is actually needed for digital transformation?
Putting Malaysia on the Path to Payments Innovation
The public launch of the DuitNow instant credit transfer service, in December 2018, provides just a taste of what lies ahead as Malaysia’s Real-time Retail Payments Platform (RPP) is progressively rolled out. Fueled by Bank Negara’s (BNM) increasing support for e-payment platform development, there has been a steady increase in mobile wallet and digital payment usage, setting the stage for 2019 to be a year of transformation for the payments industry in Malaysia.
The Potential of 'Request to Pay' to Revolutionize Payments
How often have you been in a situation where you realize in the middle of the month that you’re late paying an important bill? And then hit with a wave of dread as you check your bank account with trepidation to see if you can pay? Many of us are lucky to not be in that situation regularly, but most of us have been there at some point, and likely know others who are regularly confronted by this situation.
What Can the Re-Regulation of Other Industries Tell Us About Open Banking One Year On?
UK Open Banking just reached its first birthday milestone (on January 13 to be precise) and given my own commentary – including in the ACI blog – on this topic, the first anniversary of Open Banking in the UK certainly won’t pass without a debrief on the progress that’s been made and what challenges lie ahead.