Why use Electronic Signature?
There’s far more to gain than just paper & pens saved – why use electronic signature is really about instant sales contract, reducing sales friction, automating marketing & more. Oh, and it’s flat-out less expensive than paper, when you include the factors below…
Why should I bother with electronic signature?
- You’ll actually make more money, if you need sales contracts. How? Reducing fall-out – paperwork that goes out and never comes back. If you’re still using PDFs or paper, then sending out a contract and waiting for it (hoping for it) to come back, you’re losing money. A percentage of all business done like that will be lost to rethinking, buyer’s remorse, or learning their neighbor’s uncle is also in that business and he’ll get you “a heckuva deal”. [see Tom Hopkins Dirty Words if you think we’re serious]. Electronic signature means you can get a binding signed contract instantly, before the client is even off the phone.
- You’ll annoy your customers less & provide a better experience. Nobody wants a mortgage, they want a lower house payment, or to buy a house, etc. – they want benefits, not friction and hassles. By letting customers fill out e-signature paperwork in advance, where their browser will auto-complete most basic fields (name, address..), it’ll save time, and then when the customer shows up in person (if applicable to your business), you get right to the value part instead of necessities. What’s this worth? That varies by how much paperwork you have, but smoothing your new-client-intake is always smart.
- You’ll increase referrals. Why? By automating hand-off from paperwork to marketing. Most 1980’s-style paper & clipboard businesses don’t have a formal marketing system to move customer data (with their permission) into marketing, but with electronic signature, it’s easy – one can instantly feed into the other. This means you can easily automate follow-up with a time-delayed autoresponder, sending the customer a survey an email right after their appointment. Use our reviews & reputation system, or build your own – the important idea is if the client’s happy, ask for referrals and make it very easy for them to do so – a web form.
- You’ll improve your marketing ROI if you’re using ad-tracking. By tying Google Analytics (Free!) and other ad-tracking systems to your new-client-intake as a goal, you’ll be better able to track offline sales.
- You’ll reduce errors, by automating data flows instead of relying on humans. Little things like a typo in an email happen. With old-school paper & pen, a human has to type that into some computer somewhere for many businesses, or at the very least for marketing – leading to more errors. If you have complex forms, SwiftCloud can handle hundreds of data-fields and even more, with conditional if-then logic so the customer doesn’t get overwhelmed and sees just what they need to answer.
- You’ll increase security & compliance, by reducing the risk of lost paper records. For certain industries like medical or financial businesses, your destruction of documents on specific dates is required, as well as having an audit trail or chain of custody trail. Automating this will not only save time and money, it will reduce the risk of something going wrong.
- Employees will be happier. If you have to re-type a clipboard of handwritten data from an intake form twenty times a day, is that the best use of your time? It’s inefficient at best, and at worst, any off days or sloppy handwriting is going to create more problems. Happier employees leads to greater retention, and less dependence on human employees for menial tasks means greater engagement.
- If-then conditional logic isn’t even possible with paper. As an example one could ask whether a patient has a family history of cancer, and if they answer yes, get details, types, and how closely they’re related – but if they answer no, they just skip those fields, and more quickly move on to other questions. Logic can even change which docs need to be signed (say, if the signor is under 18, or a home price was over $X, etc). SwiftCloud allows for conditional logic this and more.
- You can integrate signatures with payment or appointment booking. Get money then signature, or signatures then money as you prefer. Payment options could depend on choices made in an e-signature doc, allowing you to streamline quotes and pricing, setup a “quote builder” so clients can easily see and edit choices with pricing to correspond. If you have an appointment-based-business, our upcoming appointment scheduling tool will allow for e-signature right within the appointment booking, so by the time a client or patient shows up, all the paperwork is already handled.
- Last but not least, you’ll help the environment. Sure, you’ll save paper, but it goes far beyond that to include frustration over paper printer jams, ink & toner running out. The energy, plastic, and chemicals used to make the paper, all so that it can then be later destroyed, since in most cases you just needed agreement, not to keep the doc forever. Then there’s pens and pencils – which seem trivial, but plastic and resources to make them add up – then there’s transportation… then there’s storage and finally secure destruction of signed docs. Skip it all and go paperless.
You can be setup in minutes.
Yes! Electronic Signatures are 100% legally binding in nearly every jurisdiction around the globe, including the U.S. and E.U.
Furthermore, electronic signatures are actually MORE difficult to forge than a traditional ink signature, because of the digital “fingerprinting” left at time of signature.
For all paying accounts, expert witnesses are available for court appearance or deposition in the highly unlikely event enforcement assistance is needed.
Each e-Signature done on the Swift Signature platform also carries an audit trail, and optional SwiftCloud-account security requirements.
For some exciting reading, we encourage you to review specific laws for your area, such as…United States: ESIGN Act of 2000, UETA (Uniform Electronic Transactions) Act European Union: Electronic Signatures Directive of 1999 & 1993 Various other countries
UPDATED: Country-specifics list started:Brazil
Practically speaking, enforcement for most civil contracts requires a subscriber’s willingness to sue and take the matter to court. For our part, we are frankly looking forward to making a few examples of anyone attacking the status and legal authenticity of the signatures, and have a lot to gain (both publicity as well as direct financial damages) by proving this matter.
To aid in enforcement, we have available both expert witnesses and attorneys, and in addition ......More...
Note: if you just want to get a single document signed, we have a tutorial for that here.
If you have a WordPress based website, we recommend seeing our WordPress e-signature setup instructions.
Still reading? Great! It means you want to get a document signed many times – a document template – but are not running WordPress.
That’s no problem – you’ll use SwiftCloud’s native document system, then return the users back to your website. This can also be pre-filled by other webforms, or integrated with various CRMs (besides our own Swift CRM, which is already integrated, of course).
Let’s set one up! First, create a document by logging into SwiftCloud and navigating to Home >> Files & Docs >> New Doc. Give your document a name and click save.
PART 1: Creating the e-signable doc in SwiftCloud
Next, you’ll probably want to copy and paste your document online. We’re working on a fancy uploader for Microsoft Word and other filetypes, but for now, copy and paste is your best bet.
Next, open the doc by clicking on it, and in the top left, you’ll see a blue cloud – that’s us. Click it.
Once open, you’ll have options to ......More...
Electronic Signature & Payment is easy.
In short you have two options:Get Money then e-Signature or Get e-Signature then Money
Either are fine, and which is right for you depends on the nature of your sale. If you have a smaller amount (and thus more frequent), we recommend collecting money first, then getting signature.
If you have a higher dollar amount, the value of the contract is increased but the contract is usually not in force until consideration (aka payment) is made and thus for more complex contracts you probably want the contract signed first.
Either is fine, and there’s no real wrong answer – in the end the result is the same – you need both.
To setup e-signature then payment via paypal, create your form as usual (at http://swiftcloud.io/form/create-form ) and on the right side you’ll see some options under “User Flow” like this:
There you can choose an e-commerce product or service to auto-redirect the user after signature for payment. In this example, the user will flow from (1.) Your website, to >> (2.) the signature page, then >> (3.) payment page, then (4.) back to your site for typically a receipt and thanks message confirming what ......More...
7 Actionable Electronic Signature Tips:
- There’s 2 main methods to use e-Signature, “standing order” style (signable anytime by anyone) and specific-people style (say, a sales contract – the doc is specific to people and or a business transaction). For standing order types (waivers, HR new worker forms, etc.) these should be linked from your website for most cases, and also maybe added to emails & autoresponders (i.e. appointment scheduled confirmation).
- Ensure you connect marketing, by periodically exporting contacts, or connecting an API to other marketing systems.
- Don’t try to build Rome in a day – just get in and focus on the “low hanging fruit” – whatever you get signed most often. Other use cases will become obvious over time and if you spend just a few minutes per month optimizing your system, working on your business not in your business, you’ll reap rewards via time savings and efficiency. Most important: get the game started.
- Want to use a tablet for in-person e-signatures? Create a cloned separate 2nd e-signable doc, set to show a confirmation and “in person mode” in the […] section which will try to prevent autofill (thus potentially showing other client’s info). After signature, the doc will reset for the next customer.
- SwiftCloud’s “standing order” e-signatures can contain fillable variable-fields that do not look editable and can be generated on-the-fly by you but not by the customer; this is used often for pricing or negotiated terms – so in most cases, sales contracts even with negotiated terms (price, %, delivery dates, names etc) can contain “readonly” fields that you generate on-the-fly with the URL Generator, usually used for sales contracts.
- Consider levels of authentication. By default, anyone can claim to be anyone, and if you have other touch-points for the customer (i.e. they are in your business in person, and so you know their name matches a credit card for example) you’re fine – but for some businesses, you may wish to request a copy of ID (passport, driver’s license), or webcam photo, or login via Google / Facebook. Our audit-trail automatically appends info like IP Geolocation, browser & language to help with this as well.
- For in-person use, generate a “tiny URL”. If you have a WordPress site, “prettylinks” plugin can help make your signable URLs easier to tell clients and easier to type in your office and thus sign via phone.