So, I juggled ideas around for the last few months on how exactly I could integrate my service agreement (which is exactly the same as my retainer agreement but without the surveillance clauses) into a digital platform. First I did a terms of service on the website and made the investigations like "products" clients could buy from the e-commerce platform. I use Squarespace as a platform to build my site (in case you were curious). This was a flop as each investigation is unique so I couldn't turn it into a product. This model also only allowed people to check a box they agreed with my services agreement which was boldly posted. While I looked up the legality of using such a method, I felt that something more personal as a signature would hold up much better in court than a confirmation that they just understood the agreement rather than by checking a box.
Getting a Digital Signature
So I quickly realized I needed to change the platform of which the business operated entirely. This allowed the client to enter their information about their potential investigation on the website with no obligation and at no cost. My previous "product" model required them to purchase or enter in the payment information. There are a few products out there to get digital signatures but I use DocuSign and have found their platform to be easy to use. My services agreement (which was created in Word but converted to a PDF) is easily loaded into the app where I can place where signatures and accompanying information where to go. Then I can email it to the client for their review.
Here is the current process:
- Submit a case through the website for free.
- I receive the case via e-mail, review it, and reach out for consultation.
- Client receives request to digitally sign services agreement I send to them by email in which they digitally sign.
- Client receives custom invoice (I use Square) by e-mail that requires payment.
- Client receives investigation results by e-mail, phone, or platform of their choosing.
So the overall experience of using the website should be much more user friendly and less intrusive feeling than before. That and I feel much more comfortable with a services agreement that both the client and myself sign before the investigation is carried out. If anyone has any suggestions or questions let me know.