To quote my business partner Daniel Newman, “The digital cup runneth over with technology that improves the customer experience.” In his piece on the value of prioritizing experience in the big digital transformation picture, he lists several of those technologies—CRM platforms, social sites, and e-commerce solutions, to name a few. In that vein, I’d like to focus on a tech capability so essential it often gets overlooked. What is it, you ask? The ability to receive, review, sign, and send documents swiftly and securely—and across a variety of devices—is a customer experience necessity in our world gone digital. Let’s explore.
A Document(ed) Evolution
If you’re a B2C company, you use technology to communicate directly with consumers. If you’re a B2B company, you use technology to communicate with other businesses. And if you’re either one, you use technology to communicate with and empower your own set of internal customers—i.e., your employees—who drive initiatives, make sales, and move your organization forward. Among all those scenarios, there is one common denominator: The necessary movement of documents. From purchase agreements, to proposals, to membership commitments, to contracts, to job acceptances, to onboarding documents—and everything in between—countless documents exchange hands (or devices) daily.
The fact that documents are business staples hasn’t changed over the years, but how we manage them has. Research from Global Web Index (GWI) indicates, on average, every digital consumer owns 3.64 connected devices. With all that connectivity, it is no longer efficient to print, fax or mail documents. What used to be a commonplace practice now feels clunky and unnecessary. Digital solutions help ease the burden, streamlining the process for your business and your consumers alike. Let’s explore how incorporating electronic signature software solutions can save time and money while boosting the potential for productivity, collaboration, creativity, and customer satisfaction.
The Benefits of Digitizing Documents and Signatures
A recent whitepaper from Adobe, Your Signature Move: Five Great Reasons to Make Electronic Signatures A Part of Your Business, revealed traditional signatures aren’t actually as effective as you might think. More than 37 percent of business leaders reported issues with their documents, including missing or incorrect signatures, dates, and initials. In addition, more than half reported problems with lost or misfiled documents. These setbacks are more than just simple inconveniences. They’re wasting time and resources, slowing workflows, preventing organizations from delivering seamless customer experiences, and complicating collaborative and creative processes that drive innovation.
Having invented the PDF, Adobe knows a thing or two about the value of electronic signature software. Their solution—Adobe Sign—makes what was once a laborious manual process quick, efficient, and secure. Why is it so effective? Let’s take a dive into three key customer experience benefits of digitizing documents and signatures:
- Save time. The time-saving power of smart forms and e-signatures is a no-brainer. Tapping on a device is far quicker than the antiquated process of manually printing, completing, signing, processing, and scanning those same documents. With Adobe Sign, you can even collect signatures in-person using your mobile device or scan documents with your phone. Why does speed matter? Besides the obvious accompanying boost in the potential for productivity, it can also lead to higher brand awareness. We live in a world where the average human’s attention span was once deemed as less than that of a goldfish. That may not be true—after all, you’re still reading this article—but it does speak to the collective need of consumers to be engaged. And quickly.
- Build secure connections. Digitizing documents doesn’t just make processes quicker; it also makes them more secure. Remember those lost, misfiled, and error-filled documents I mentioned above? E-signatures take the guesswork out of not only completing various types of documentation, but also securely storing it. While that’s a ‘nice to have’ option if you’re just any business, if you’re in a business where compliance is required, it’s critically important. There’s a reason businesses report simply improving their documentation process could mean a substantial 23 percent reduction in compliance risk.
- Benefit from a more efficient brand. When a business improves its workflow behind the scenes, customers reap the rewards. There are direct benefits like those mentioned above, but there are indirect benefits, too. For example, LeasePlan, a fleet management company, was able to cut a whopping 19 days out of their contract completion cycle when they incorporated e-signatures into their document process. That development is good for business, but it’s also good for consumers; less paperwork means salespeople reported being able to spend more time with new and existing customers. Win-win.
It’s long been clear to me that e-signatures aren’t only the future, they’re the present. If you’re like me, you’re constantly working on the go, checking email on your phone, making deals, entering into agreements, and communicating by way of various collaboration platforms and apps. Productivity no longer lives in the confines of a traditional office space. We work and consume where we want and how we want, and our customers do as well. Digital signature solutions help us go further, faster.
The evolution has been coming for a while. Last year, Adobe and Microsoft announced a partnering of their cloud services. Recently, they took it a step further, expanding the partnership in collaboration and e-signatures. Essentially, this means Adobe Sign will be integrated across Microsoft’s widely-used suite of tools, including SharePoint, Office 365, and Dynamics 365. This is exciting news, given the wide use of these tools and such a smart move on the part of these companies. You can read more about Microsoft and Adobe’s extended partnership—and how it adds a new layer of accessibility to working in the cloud—here: Microsoft + Adobe: Delivering the best cloud solutions.
Bottom line: Whether you’re developing a mobile-friendly app, looking for easy to sign forms, or creating smart forms that make enrolling or buying a snap, these little things play a big role when it comes to creating a great customer experience both internally and externally. Because competing on customer experience is how to get ahead, getting on the e-signature train simply makes good business sense.
Have your document processes evolved along with your business, or are you still doing things the old way? How do you feel your decision has impacted your customer experience, and is there room for improvement? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Disclosure: This post is written in partnership with Adobe as part of a sponsored series. The thoughts and opinions here are my own.
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Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”