We all want to provide exceptional client service, but what’s in it for you? How does an online payment tool make your workday easier, save you time, or deliver valuable business insights? Let’s look at some process and operational benefits to see how online billing and payments are being used in firms around the country to boost cash flow and save time.
Stop Waiting for Checks to Arrive in the Mail
Imagine eliminating what can be weeks worth of lag time as you wait for clients to receive your bill, write a check, send it through traditional paper mail channels, and then wait for the check to post to your account.
With online payments, you get paid faster, you get a near-immediate confirmation email when payment is submitted, and the transaction shows as pending on your bank account within seconds. One survey of legal industry professionals found that those who accept online credit card payments get paid 39 percent faster on average.
While reviewing online payment services for lawyers, retired attorney Glenn Garnes wrote, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the road, at the courthouse, or out of the office when someone wanted to make a payment; and I delayed my ability to accept it by having to ask them to send a check. I also can’t tell you how many times that check was late or never came in the first place.”
Automate Your Cash Flow
For work that you take on retainer or any repeat transactions you need to process, the best online payment tools let you set up recurring payments to manage these charges. This is in effect like putting your cash flow on autopilot and just watching revenue flow in, and you can use the time saved on administrative busy work to focus on adding new services.
Let Your Tech Tools Work Together in Tandem
Another big benefit of an online payment platform is that many integrate with the practice management and billing software you already use and love. Being able to process payments from your existing practice management solution, like Smokeball, isn’t just easier than having to jump from one program to another—it also brings the potential for streamlining your workflow and delivering richer business insights when your software tools can share data and talk to each other.
If you prefer working in a spreadsheet, most tools will let you export all of your payment transactions right to Excel and crunch data to your heart’s content.
Alleviate Your Security Burden
Today, security is a top concern for lawyers and their clients alike. High-profile events like the 2017 Equifax breach and more targeted ransomware attacks against legal firms have set professionals and their clients on edge. But data security concerns don’t seem to be dissuading people from wanting to pay for goods and services electronically. In fact, in a recent survey by TSYS, more than half of respondents said they believe credit or debit is the safest payment type.
Too many lawyers around the country are still jotting down clients’ credit card numbers over the phone. Even if you still leave sticky notes with sensitive credit card information on them scattered around your desk or office, you probably realize what a security risk this is.
An online legal payment solution lets you email a direct payment link to clients so they can enter their card information into a secure portal themselves, which means you never take possession of that sensitive data. This lets you effectively shift much of the related security burden off of your firm. The responsibility for safeguarding that data largely rests with your payment processor, which should be an established company with top-notch security. When comparing vendors, be sure to choose one with PCI Level 1 security, which is the best you can get.
You can also get guidance from experts on how to handle PCI compliance. Every business that accepts credit cards has to be PCI compliant, which involves meeting security requirements that may be beyond your expertise. A quality online payments company will not only be PCI compliant itself, but also offer comprehensive support and guidance to help your firm get and stay PCI compliant.
Mine Your Payment Data for Insights
A digital solution also makes it much easier to view and access your payment data to better manage revenue trends in your business. A payment-focused software tool can offer tagging functionality to help you get a better sense of where income is coming from and shift some of your activities to create a more well-rounded portfolio of work. When payment data is compiled for you, as it is in Smokeball, payment trends and profitability indicators are exponentially easier to spot.
Along with seeing which types of work you’re doing are driving the most revenue for your firm, you can also dig into who your top-paying clients are, and maybe look for ways to offer them additional services or reach out to them requesting a referral. Conversely, you can also use this data to see which clients may be slower to pay, prompting you to reach out with a friendly payment reminder (and a link to your payment page).