Disrupting broadband with simplicity and transparency
Cuckoo Broadband is the UK’s first challenger internet service provider. Much like Bulb in the energy market or Monzo in banking, the young company – founded in September 2020 – is leveraging technology to bring simplicity and transparency to an often bewildering market.
“Our goal is to provide simple broadband for good,” says Alexander Fitzgerald, Cuckoo Broadband’s Founder & CEO. “In an industry beset by long contracts, built-in price rises, complex offerings and poor customer experiences, our offering is straightforward: one deal, one price, and on a one-month rolling contract that delivers the fastest available speed in your area. And 1% of customers’ bills goes towards helping people in need get on the internet.”
Cuckoo is growing fast, by more than 250% so far this year, and from the very beginning it looked to GoCardless as a payments platform that was aligned with its values of simplicity and customer experience.
A big finding from our market research was essentially that the best kind of broadband provider is one you never have to contact,” says Alexander. “Contact drivers tend either to be a problem with your internet or a problem with billing. We can cover the former, and GoCardless’s automation-first approach has enabled us to innovate around the latter.”
An efficient and flexible payments system
GoCardless has provided Cuckoo Broadband with an efficient and flexible system for onboarding customers and collecting monthly recurring payments via Direct Debit.
Early on in their start-up journey, the company’s lead developer reviewed the GoCardless public API docs and technical specs. At that point, according to Alexander, the team knew right away that GoCardless was the solution of choice to enable them to build the system they needed, easily and quickly.
“The primary reason we love GoCardless is that it is built for developers,” says Fitzgerald. “If we wanted to build our own ideal billing system, it would mirror all that GoCardless has in terms of functionality and extensibility. To date, all we’ve used is GoCardless – and I think it’s all that we’ll ever use.”
Turning failed payments into a positive customer experience
Onboarding and collecting monthly payments is only one half of what a recurring payments billing system needs to handle. The other half is a huge pain point for both utility providers and their customers: failed payments. “The most important aspect of our efforts to innovate around simplifying billing is what happens when things go wrong,” says Fitzgerald.
To that end, Instant Bank Pay, a new GoCardless bank-to-bank payment feature powered by open banking, has dramatically improved the time it takes for Cuckoo to collect failed payments during an early access pilot. By offering customers a faster one-off payment option following a failed transaction, Cuckoo was able to increase payment success rates and reduce the risk of service disruption to their customers.
“In our first month using the feature, two-thirds of customers who experienced a failed payment were reached by Instant Bank Pay,” says Oliver Nelson, Cuckoo Broadband’s Head of Service.
“Of those, 86% were able to make a payment within 48 hours, minimising disruption to their service. Before Instant Bank Pay the process of chasing and collecting a failed payment could take 21 days; by using this feature we have the capability to reduce this to 7 to 14 days. This is great for Cuckoo Broadband as it reduces risk when it comes to costs outstanding, but even better for customers as it completely removes the threat of losing access to our services.”
Instant Bank Pay from GoCardless has already helped us to save admin time chasing down one-off failed payments, while also improving the experience of dealing with your utility, which we know no one really wants to do.”
A partnership built on openness and collaboration
As it continues to grow and as open banking matures, Cuckoo Broadband expects to be able to allow customers to use Instant Bank Pay at the point of sign up, too, which would accelerate the onboarding flow.
“Adopting tech to provide this kind of fast, modern experience would be a great start for the customer lifecycle and further separate our brand from slower incumbents,” says Alexander.
But, ultimately, Cuckoo Broadband knows that with GoCardless on its team this is just the beginning when it comes to bringing much needed convenience and transparency to buying broadband.
Alexander says: “As one of the most loved broadband firms in the country we're taking on a broken industry with simple pricing, fair contracts and exceptional service. GoCardless is a real innovator in the payments space meaning that our customers have a seamless payment experience when switching to us and paying their monthly bill.”