As anyone in the veterinary practice knows well, the client checkout process can be one of the more uncomfortable parts of the appointment – that moment when the client learns how much they owe.
Studies show that many pet owners struggle to cover veterinary expenses, and it’s not unusual for a practice to wait weeks or even months to receive payment – if they ever do – despite follow-up phone calls and email reminders. The lost revenue starts to add up.
But a simple feature in your practice’s integrated payments system could be the solution to resolving outstanding invoices much faster and more securely and helping clients budget their veterinary expenses.
That feature: a tokenized card-on-file.
What is a tokenized card-on-file and how does it work?
Also known as card-on-file tokenization, it’s a secure way of storing your client’s form of payment in your practice management system. The tokenized card means that the physical card is not needed in order to process payment, nor is the client required to be present for the transaction.
What does “tokenized” mean?
This means that instead of storing the card’s full 16-digit number in your system, a token (or random string of characters) is issued that represents the card. Only the card’s last four digits and expiration date are stored for verification and able to be viewed in the system.
Is card tokenization more secure?
Because the card’s full plain-text information is never stored in the system, there’s a significantly lower risk of identity theft. Card-on-file also means not having to take your client’s card information over the phone – always a risky means of payment collection!
How can a tokenized card be used?
The beauty of the tokenized card is that it can be deployed anytime, anywhere, and instantly, as long as the client has given permission. Whether the client chooses to pay in person at the clinic, over the phone, or via an emailed or texted payment link, the tokenized card may be treated as their primary form of payment.
7 key benefits of card-on-file tokenization
When renting a car or checking in at a hotel, most likely you’ll be asked for an additional credit card to cover “incidental” (or add-on) expenses that aren’t included with the original cost. That is another example of card-on-file tokenization, designed both to guarantee that the business receives payment and allow you to conveniently authorize that payment to take place.
Those benefits – and others – come with card-on-file tokenization in the veterinary setting. Here are seven ways that this component of your integration payments system can create a better experience for both the practice staff and your clients:
1. An overall smoother payment process
With securely stored payment information, clients don’t need to be asked each visit for their payment details. Not only is the checkout process faster, it gives the client the option of paying from any location, whether at the counter or in the exam room, by phone or by text. The upside is time-savings for the staff and more convenience for the client.
2. Fewer payment errors
When your staff is not consistently asking for payment information, there’s far less chance of data entry mistakes like incorrect card numbers or expiration dates. And fewer billing errors equates to less administrative time spent identifying and correcting them.
3. Better security
Unique tokenization of the card removes any of the card’s sensitive information from the payment process, and it guarantees that your practice management system does not store the card’s data. Plus, outside of your system, the card’s token cannot be used for unauthorized transactions.
4. Automatic recurring payments
If your clinic offers wellness plans or if a patient is undergoing a long-term hospitalization, a tokenized card-on-file will ensure that payments are processed incrementally and on time, also preventing missed payments. This convenience can also benefit the client looking for a way to budget their veterinary expenses over a period of time.
5. Guaranteed access to a payment type
Like the hotel requesting your card to cover incidentals, your practice gains assurance that some form of payment is available to pay for veterinary services. The client may still request not to pay with their card-on-file, but in most cases this securely stored payment type will prevent an invoice from going unpaid.
6. Stronger financial health
Predictable revenue, such as recurring payments through wellness plans, makes it easier to manage clinic finances over the long term and to more effectively allocate resources.
7. Happier, more loyal clients
By the end of an appointment, especially after a stressful procedure, no one is more ready to leave than the patient. So the more you can do to reduce friction in the checkout process, the better. Simply put, clients that can count on payment hassle-free options like a tokenized card-on-file are more likely to keep coming back.
How to implement card-on-file tokenization
By realizing the benefits of tokenized card-on-file in your practice, especially in regards to creating more predictable revenue, you may decide to enact a policy that requires this form of payment on some or all services.
That policy could take one or more of a few different forms:
- Require card-on-file for high-cost procedures
When quoting services like a dental extraction or any other form of surgery, consider setting an amount threshold (e.g. $1,000), beyond which a guaranteed card-on-file will be required for payment.
- Require card-on-file for certain services
Wellness plans and long-term hospitalizations are the best examples of services that allow you to bill the client incrementally and to guarantee payment over a period of time. A simple vaccination appointment, however, may not necessitate the card-on-file requirement.
- Require card-on-file for all services
Depending on any number of factors, you may choose to make card-on-file tokenization mandatory for payment. For instance, a mobile-only clinic may wish to maintain as streamlined a payment process as possible, or a new single-location practice may seize the opportunity to embed the payment-type requirement into its client onboarding journey from the start.
⭐ Whichever policy you implement, it’s important to anticipate questions from the client as to why a card-on-file requirement is necessary. To help ease any concerns, refer to the client-facing benefits mentioned above, particularly the aspect of convenience and a smoother, less stressful checkout experience.
One part of a complete integrated payments solution
If you’re convinced of the benefits of card-on-file tokenization, you’ve merely scratched the surface of what Nordhealth Pay can do for your payment processes. Enable multiple modes of payment, eliminate manual reconciliation of invoices, reduce overdue payments, improve cash flow, and more. Connect with us to learn about Provet Pay.