Target provides DVLA an award winning Direct Debit solution for vehicle tax payments. In just eighteen weeks, Target Group designed and implemented a solution that enables motorists to pay their vehicle tax by Direct Debit. Five years on, the service has been used by more than 23 million motorists.

The challenge

Launch a new facility for customers to pay their car tax by Direct Debit – in just 18 weeks to meet a commitment made by the Chancellor.

The solution

A secure online system interfacing with BACS, plus a counter solution for the Post Office and a support service for the contact centre.

The results

  • 24x7x365 service availability
  • Very high levels of customer satisfaction

Reliable as well as popular, it has been an important element of DVLA’s ongoing digital strategy and helped DVLA increase its digital take-up. In 2018, Target won a new contract to continue to manage the system.

Simple, quick and efficient: since the DVLA launched its online vehicle tax renewal service in 2006, it has become recognised as an exemplar amongst public sector web services – and helped position DVLA as pioneers of government digital transformation.

In the Autumn statement of 2013, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the introduction of a new option to pay vehicle tax by Direct Debit – and set a public deadline for the launch of the service: 1 October 2014.

That left less than a year for procurement, design and implementation, so it was not until May 2014 that Target Group was engaged to deliver the service.

Target Group spent the first few weeks gathering the full requirements, which included not only the main public-facing web pages but also a web service for the Post Office, to enable Direct Debits to be set up at the counter, and a contact centre system so that DVLA contact centre agents could help customers solve any issues.

Behind the scenes, the Target solution had to:

  1. Manage the set-up of each Direct Debit mandate in line with the necessarily strict regulations
  2. Manage interface with BACS and banking systems
  3. Provide a complete payment schedule – all in a matter of seconds, to maintain the high usability standards the DVLA had set for itself
  4. To be bilingual, working in English and Welsh

The requirements were formally agreed by DVLA in early July; two weeks later, the prototype solution was approved.

The next few weeks saw robust testing of both the customer experience and back-office processing system, ensuring it could operate at the speed and scale required. At the same time, Target trained the contact centre agents on the new solution and provided guidance for Post Office counter staff.

Just 18 weeks after Target was brought in, the solution went live, on schedule. It had been heavily publicised and was promptly met by huge demand. However, the Direct Debit processing itself worked smoothly from day one – and has continued to do so ever since. The initial contract stipulated 99.5% uptime; month on month, Target has delivered this and more.

The reliability of the solution, added to its simplicity from the user perspective, has meant Direct Debit has become a preferred payment method for over 10 million vehicle licences. Customers can choose monthly, six-monthly or annual payments.

The DVLA’s Direct Debit collection service is now one of the largest in the country in terms of both the number of customers and the volume of money involved. Customer satisfaction with the service has been consistently high, and the service also regularly receives unsolicited positive feedback for its usability and simplicity.

Savings and satisfaction

As well as the benefits to customers, the service has also helped the DVLA meet other strategic aims, such as increasing digital take-up. Target has continued to work closely with the DVLA to optimise the service. For example, in response to customer feedback, Target has introduced additional assurances for users that they have successfully taxed their vehicle when the Direct Debit mandate is accepted and renewed annually.

Steps like this were crucial to helping Target bid successfully via G-Cloud to continue as the DVLA’s Direct Debit partner in 2016. As part of its bid, Target identified further enhancements to the auto-renewal process and bank reconciliation – both of which are in line with DVLA’s ongoing strategy to simplify the process for consumers.

That combination of innovation and service helped the solution win Best Online Payments Solution (Consumer) at the 2016 Payments Awards – a great industry recognition for a swift, straightforward and successful service.