May 15 2019

Digital Signatures: One Small Step Toward a Better Customer Experience

Paper-bound processes are a black hole of inefficiency that frustrates buyers and sellers alike.

The user experience has crept beyond the boundaries of the browser. Marketers describe every interaction with a customer as part of the customer experience. That makes sense: Customer satisfaction begins with a prospect’s first contact with a company and continues throughout the relationship.

Marketing tends to own the customer experience, but that needs to change. As companies embrace digital transformation, they need to examine their processes and systems for chances to embed the experience into their interactions with everyone — customers, vendors, investors, and employees alike.

In the short term, companies that think about the customer experience solely as a marketing activity and not an operational imperative are missing an opportunity. In the long term, they will lose the ability to remain competitive.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Find out why your small business needs a digital strategy.

Each Link in the Service Chain Affects the Next

Gartner describes the customer experience in five segments:

  • Employee engagement
  • Quality operations
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Loyalty churn/retention
  • Advocacy and brand reputation

They call this the service-chain methodology because each segment builds on the previous ones. All the segments are inextricably linked.

To understand what this means, consider how it works in our own lives. For instance, ask almost anyone what they think of their cable provider and they’re likely to have some harsh words. The thing people complain about most? It isn’t the network speed or the monthly bill. It’s poor customer service. No matter how fine the product is or how great of a value is delivered, the brand as a whole suffers because of problems at the call center.

Customers Are Frustrated by Paper Processes

Paper processes are a black hole of inefficiency. Enterprises spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on security, storage and destruction for each document throughout its life. Workers spend innumerable hours tracking down approvals and seeking signatures. Paper documents must be printed, scanned, faxed and mailed, and the inevitable delays frustrate customers, vendors and employees. In the end, the brand doesn’t come out looking good.

Companies are striving to transform their businesses by replacing their old processes with digital technologies that deliver agility, efficiency, cost savings and great customer experiences.

Overhauling operations at such a fundamental level is a big job, and it comes with some risks. Achieving a quick win in the early days is important to building credibility and generating support from leaders across the organization.

That’s why the document signature process is one good place to start a transformation. Moving away from paper to digital documents is a manageable hop for companies, and tackling document processes first will accelerate the rest of the transformation while also making an immediate positive impact throughout the organization. The risk is low, but the visibility is high.

Digital Transformation

The Customer Experience Starts with the Signature

An electronic signing process doesn’t just benefit the seller. Customers are also saved from having to print, scan or fax documents, install software or create new logins. They notice and appreciate fast response times and speedy contract-signing processes. A document can be red-lined and approved in minutes instead of days, and even complicated contracts can be executed more quickly. For example, when the company Ricoh moved to electronic signing, its turnaround time on contracts shrank by a week. Another company, LeasePlan, reduced its contract turnaround time by 83 percent. 

These companies and others that have shed their paper processes and moved on to electronic signing are not only streamlining operations and closing deals more quickly, they’re also strengthening their brand reputations. When a complex negotiation can be finalized with ease and speed, trading partners get the message that a company is easy to do business with. And that starts relationships off on the right foot.