Content is a crucial concept in law, especially when it comes to data protection. When you want to collect personal information from your customers, you must get their informed, clear, and voluntary consent in advance. This can prevent you from getting into the wrong side of the law because if you obtain and use your customers’ personal details, without their consent you could be sued for violation of data privacy.
Usually, when an agreement is happening face-to-face, a written document is signed by the parties involved. But what if the agreement is happening online? What kind of consent can you use in an online context? In this case, you will have to collect customer consent with an electronic signature. So, what is an electronic signature? Is it enforceable under data protection law? And how can you collect it?
Well, keep on reading this article as we discuss all these and much more.
What is an electronic signature?
When it comes to written documents, consent often occurs by signing a document with a hand-written signature. Of course, the signature shows who exactly has signed the document and it confirms that the person who has signed that particular document agrees with the content of the document. Subsequently, electronic consent works pretty much the same- it can be any mechanism confirming who the person is and that he or she has agreed to the terms. And this can be done through an electric signature.
An electric signature, also known as an e-signature is basically a signature in electronic form. It lets signatories approve and agree with the terms of a document. It is mostly used by signatories who are far apart. However, these days, many companies are adopting the use of e-signatures, thanks to their speed and efficiency.
Is electronic signature legally enforceable?
Most electronic signatures are as valid and enforceable as the traditional manual signature. They are good and bad as well. According to the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce [ESIGN] act, all electronic signatures are legally enforceable as long as a few basic requirements are met. The law requires electronically signed contracts to be enforced and regarded the same as any document signed by traditional means.
In short, no contract can be rendered unenforceable just because it was signed electronically. However, to qualify as an enforceable e-signature, there must be evidence of the signer’s intent to accept the agreement. This is achieved by requiring the signer to take action such as typing their name or drawing their signature using a touchscreen or mouse.
How to collect customers’ signatures online
Now that you understand what an electronic signature is, let’s see how you can collect it seamlessly.
As already mentioned, many companies are now more comfortable with using electric signatures in their daily transactions. The physical signature is becoming obsolete, except for some specific legal documents that require them. Electronic signatures make things pretty much easier in so many ways.
You can collect customer signatures online using smartphones. But to do that, you must install a signature capture app. For instance, you can use the consent form to collect signatures in a safe way online. Once you have them as PDFs, you can then print them out if necessary.
The best way to store these signatures is in a cloud-based system. This way, you won’t have to worry about losing the signatures even if something terrible were to happen to your device.
Benefits of using an electronic signature as a way of collecting customer consent
E-signatures save time
One of the top benefits of using electronic signatures to collect customer consent is that they can save time. They can be completed and saved within no time, eradicating the long wait times that usually come with requesting traditional paper signatures. What’s more, depending on the software you are using to collect the signatures, you may even be able to collect the e-signatures through email or text message.
E-signatures reduce costs
Electronic signatures are also ideal because they can help business owners reduce the cost of operations, including labor, material costs, etc. Electric signatures typically create a paperless signing process, thus reducing the need for printing, scanning, and emailing. In addition, the automation of electric signing can reduce labor and the financial risk of human error during the signing process.
Electric signatures are more secure
Electric signatures generally promote the security of sensitive and confidential documents compared to paper and pen signatures. Since they reduce the need for printing and scanning, they significantly reduce the chances of your signed documents ending up in the wrong hands. What’s more, some of these e-signature solutions offer encryption and data protection features that can be used to strengthen security. The paper-based signatures tend to lack these features.
It is pretty much easier to file e-signatures
When customers are requested to sign documents online, the completed files can be sent automatically to an online storage location. Of course, this can eliminate the need for filing manually, which is time-consuming. It can also reduce the time often spent shuffling through hard copies trying to locate a particular signed document.
Tips for collecting e-signatures
If you want to collect your customers’ electronic signatures for consent, there are things you need to have in mind. They include:
- Make sure that your software is very secure to ensure that your collected electric signatures are kept safe.
- Pay attention to compliance to be on the safe side
- Streamline the process with templates
Collecting customer consent is one of the best practices a business can do if they are planning to use the customers’ personal data for marketing or any other thing. The best way to go about this is by collecting the customers’ signatures.
Collecting signatures online is not as challenging as many people tend to believe. With the right electronic signature software, you can easily manage and save electronic signatures. It simply involves creating a template, dragging and dropping fields, and sending the document to the right parties for signatures. The best part is that since they are easy to complete, the response is prompt, leading to an excellent experience for your customers.
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