Are you considering switching to electronic signature software? We wouldn’t blame you.
From CPAs that need to file tax returns faster to insurance agencies that want to serve customers better, there are opportunities in every industry to speed up processes, reduce manual work, and strengthen security with electronic signatures.
And thankfully, moving to electronic signatures is easier than many people realize.
To help you make a smooth transition, we’ve rounded up four eSignature best practices for making the most of your paperless signing process.
1. Check for security safeguards
Contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, electronic signatures are not less secure than their pen-and-paper counterparts. In fact, the streamlined nature of these signatures makes them an ideal option when compliance and security are at stake. Because they reduce the need for emailing, scanning, and printing, your chances of having a signed document end up in the wrong hands is greatly reduced.
However, there is a catch: When selecting electronic signature software, you’ll need to be sure you choose a solution that comes with the right built-in security features.
With Formstack Sign, for example, all document deliveries are encrypted with full AES 256-bit SSL security. In other words, the same technology that secures banking transactions is also used to keep electronic signatures safe.
In addition, watch for any industry-specific standards or regulations that may impact how you collect electronic signatures. For example, healthcare organizations and business associates that collect signatures for documents containing patient data will need to find software designed to reduce the risk for HIPAA noncompliance.
2. Use templates from day one
As a general rule, you should never have to recreate a document just to get an electronic signature. If a contract, agreement, or other paperwork has already been signed once, the foundational content of that document can be used to collect a signature again… and again and again.
Our recommendation? Each time you have a document that needs to be filled out, start by creating a template that can be repurposed later. Even if you don’t have immediate plans to reuse it, getting into the habit of creating templates now will shave hours off your workweek later. Most electronic signature software offers features that allow you to quickly create templates for documents you frequently need, and then use your data to populate dynamic sections as desired.
By incorporating your logos, colors, fonts, and branding into the digital documents you send for signatures, you can remind customers who they’re working with and how easy it is to do business with you.
If your electronic signature software doesn’t offer an easy way to create custom templates, look for a solution that does.
Did you know? Formstack provides a wide array of advanced workflow templates that make it easy to gather data, automate document generation, store files, and collect signatures.
3. Go electronic for everything
Do you have a lot of “old” documents your customers or clients signed manually? The good news is, you won’t necessarily have to recreate them all. Some electronic signature software solutions will let you convert PDFs, Word documents, and even image files into formats that can be signed electronically.
If the potential for legal issues is a concern at your company, take heart: Electronic signatures are just as legally binding as their pen-and-paper counterparts. With the right software, you can even automate the process of maintaining an audit trail to validate signatures should they ever come into question. So even if you work in an industry guarded by strict rules and regulations, there’s no reason you can’t collect signatures electronically.
By going digital with all of your documents, you’ll have the added bonus of organization. Each time you use software to electronically collect a signature, the signed document is automatically backed up and stored in the cloud for easy retrieval. It means no more endless searching through files, folders, and emails every time you need to hunt down a document.
4. Communicate with customers
Chasing down errant signatures or late contracts can get really old, really fast. Be sure to choose a solution that comes with an auto-remind feature that eliminates the need to go knocking on proverbial doors. That way, you won’t have to waste time on repeated client calls or awkward follow-up emails to customers.
Even more importantly, be sure to get the word out. Once you have an electronic signature process in place, it’s important to communicate the option to your customers. Many might not be aware that they can sign your documents from tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Whether it’s adding another line to your emails or including an extra link, be sure to let customers know about all the available ways they can sign in seconds.