Recent advances in digital technologies such as electronic document delivery and e-signatures have helped law firms modernize their practices. And the crisis caused by COVID-19 forced many lawyers to quickly implement new ways, such as video and phone consultations and curbside drop-off and pick-up for contracts, to safely interact with clients in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
However, when it comes to managing back-office activities like collecting payment for services, billing clerks often still rely on outdated technology and paper-based processes. Many law firms still prepare and mail paper invoices, a practice that is inefficient and time consuming. Waiting for clients to send a check or credit card information through the mail impacts the number of days for receivables, and opens the door for data being compromised due to postal fraud.
Let’s examine four smart payment methods that law practitioners are adapting to raise the bar at their firms.
Efficient and Secure Remote Payments
Services at law practices are expanding and evolving to meet new interactions, which are increasingly being done away from a physical office. Additionally, social distancing guidelines enacted during COVID-19 resulted in the rise of online virtual appointments. A recent survey of law firms that use PayJunction showed that two-thirds of the practices adjusted to conduct at least 80% of their services remotely.
Having the right solutions and processes in place to support these new business models results in a better client experience, faster cash flow, time savings, and reduced data security risk. Here are four payment practices that you can employ to collect payments remotely:
- Request a Remote Payment for Services
The rise of online appointments is convenient (and adheres to social distancing) but it means that clients are not present in the office to pay for services. One convenient and secure solution is to send customers an invoice payment request for the amount due. This feature is especially valuable for initial consultations where a retainer fee may be due prior to the meeting or before any meaningful work has begun.
Use a Virtual Terminal to login in from anywhere and create an invoice by entering the amount due, associating it with a client’s file, and emailing a request for approval and payment. You can even include notes such as breakdown of services and related fees, and attach the actual invoice or supporting documentation.
Clients appreciate the convenience of digital invoices. They receive an email with your firm’s name and a request to pay the amount due. They click the “pay now” button, enter credit card and customer data into a simple and secure form, and press “pay.”
- Set up Automated Recurring Payments
Securely capturing and storing payment information associated with client records makes it easy to collect one-time, installment or recurring payments for services such as contracts and wills, escrow funds, and retainers. With the ability to securely store clients’ cards or bank account information on file, scheduling a payment plan takes just a few clicks.
Streamlining recurring payments boosts your cash flow by lowering your accounts receivables. Payment schedules can be customized to bill on-demand, weekly, monthly or annually. Set an end date for short-term payment plans or leave it blank for indefinite services.
You’ve built a loyal clientele by being a trusted provider of essential services and legal advice in times of need. The last thing you want to do is put someone in a challenging position in the event they cannot afford to pay for services all at once. Offering the option of payment installments to cover your fees removes a stress barrier, and becomes a lifeline.
- Collect Payments From Your Website
Turn your website into a convenient place for clients to pay for services from their desktop, phone or tablet. Hosted Checkout adds a simple “Pay Now” button to your website that directs customers to a secure billing page where they enter their credit card or bank account details.
Hosted Checkout doesn’t require any website development skills or the purchase of third-party software, and the data collected remains outside of PCI scope. The payment form can be customized with your logo, color and data fields to capture specific client information.
- Take Secure Phone Payments
One of the most efficient ways to process telephone payments is through a cloud-hosted Virtual Terminal. You simply connect to a secure portal via your browser, enter login credentials, and type in credit card or bank account data. A receipt is automatically emailed to the client to sign by mouse or with a finger. The signature is captured and automatically logged with client history in the Virtual Terminal.
Be sure to enable Address Verification Service (AVS) and Card Verification Value (CVV). In addition to reducing fraud and related chargebacks, running AVS lowers your credit card processing rates, and the savings can really add up (especially for expensive litigation and other services).
The Jury Has Spoken
Implementing these payment practices improves the payment experience for clients, shortens days of outstanding receivables, and frees up time for staff to focus on managing the firm and client needs.
Streamline remote payments at your law firm.
Which remote payment method seems the most beneficial for your firm? Tell us in the comments section below!