Michael Nutley
Michael Nutley 21 May 2020

Electronic Signatures’ Key Role In Customer Experience

A new survey by London Research and Adobe shows companies using electronic signatures see the improvement in customer experience they deliver as being one of their most important benefits.

Until recently, electronic signatures were seen as a point solution, a way of increasing the efficiency of an individual department or increasing its productivity. That view is now changing.

E-signatures 2020: Use Cases And Opportunities is published this month by Digital Doughnut sister company London Research in association with Adobe. It shows e-signatures are now seen as a key component of a digital transformation strategy by four-fifths of companies surveyed. Backing this up, respondents rated the role of e-signatures in improving the quality of the customer experience as one of the three most important benefits of the technology, alongside the efficiency and productivity gains it delivers.

Electronic signatures are seen by companies already using them as closing a significant gap in the customer’s digital journey. That means customers benefit from a faster signing process, while the company can integrate the signing stage with the rest of their digital processes.

Sign of the times

The research also found that the use of e-signatures is now mainstream. Over half of the companies in the survey (54%) said they are now using the technology, with a further third (31%) saying they plan to. Large companies (those with revenues of more than are £50m a year) are more likely to have adopted the technology, with almost two-thirds having it in place compared to just over a half of smaller companies, but the use by smaller companies has caught up rapidly in the last two years.

Organisations of all sizes agree on the productivity, efficiency and CX benefits of the technology, but smaller companies are significantly more likely to think electronic signatures create a better image for the business (58% compared to 46% of larger organisations), that they help with risk management and legal safeguarding (54% vs. 43%), and that they help recognise revenues faster (50% vs. 40%).

Within businesses, the biggest users of electronic signatures are sales departments. The research found almost half (49%) of the companies surveyed have adopted e-signatures for sales contracts, with another two-fifths (41%) planning to do so. Other big users are legal departments (39%), IT and ops (37%), marketing (36%), and customer service, procurement and HR (all 35%).

Stop signs

The research also looked into the problems companies have faced in introducing electronic signatures. It found that they were twice as likely to struggle with cultural and technological issues – persuading people to use the technology and integrating it with other systems and processes – than they were with making the business case for electronic signatures or measuring the resulting benefits.

These concerns are also very much on the minds of people not using electronic signatures. Although the biggest barriers for companies with no plans to adopt the technology were the legal validity of electronic signatures and their own lack of understanding of the benefits (both cited by 14% on non-users), company culture was regarded as an issue by 13%, while lack of resource, challenges around integration and lack of a business case were all seen as problems by 10%.   

Sign of things to come

Historically, companies have adopted electronic signatures department by department, rolling them out more widely as their benefits become apparent. But as the quality of the customer experience a company delivers becomes ever-more critical to business success, increased emphasis is being placed on the role of e-signatures in CX. This means the old ad hoc approach is less and less suitable, and is driving organisations with experience of the technology to consider it in a more strategic way. So, while the productivity and efficiency benefits will continue to be important, broader considerations such as customer satisfaction and the way the business is perceived will become increasingly crucial to companies thinking about electronic signatures in the future.

You can download E-signatures 2020: Use Cases And Opportunities from Adobe here.

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