Electronic signature strategies for your business

Oct 21, 2013

Here at e-sign, we believe all businesses can play a key role in integrating electronic signature technology throughout industry. But in order to do so, a clear strategy is needed.

To help guide your business model, we will highlight the most useful electronic signature adoption methods used to date;

  1. Amending your company policy to accept electronic signatures used by customers.
  2. Allow your business to make electronic signatures and the subsequent policy available all your clients
  3. Integrate electronic signatures into your other ‘e-solutions’.

This post draws on all the current electronic signature guidelines, industry best practices, in order, to get you thinking about questions like:

  • Who should take the lead with regards to electronic signatures? The Business or the client?
  • As a business, why do I need to develop a clear strategy for all three of these approaches? What is at risk if I don’t?
  • Do I have an electronic signature policy for the various parts of my company?
  • What electronic signature solutions are being used throughout my organization, for other lines of business and channels? Is there a corporate standard?
  • What electronic signature capabilities have my competitors, policy administrators and other service providers integrated with? Is their solution reliable and does it meet my risk criteria?

The shift from paper to all-electronic processes is taking place rapidly across industry, with companies adopting electronic signatures for new business processing.

Electronic signatures have become a foundational technology for straight through processing. The changing expectations of consumers are converging with, electronic signatures and automated contractual agreements to shape the future of all business matters.

“It is therefore vital that your business recognises the strategic importance of electronic signatures and seeks guidance where needed”.

It is not surprising to see industry embracing this technology, since there are benefits for everyone involved. Carriers that offer electronic signatures not only make it easier for other businesses and customers to do business with them, they also gain unprecedented visibility and control over operations.

Having an automated method for capturing signatures (either face-to-face or remote) helps improve productivity and shortens the time to the completion of a transaction.

Regardless of where the documents need to be stored long-term, whether at the agency or with the carrier, both parties reduce risk related to disputes in particular with the e-sign service as we offer a full audit trail of all document transactions. And most important, the customer enjoys a more convenient and efficient experience, leading to greater customer loyalty and a greater number of word-of-mouth referrals.

With such compelling benefits, the trend toward electronic signatures will only continue to gain momentum.

A recent e-commerce survey ranked electronic signatures as the technology initiative that would have the greatest impact on business.

This makes for a positive future, but who will take the lead with regards to electronic signatures? Does widespread adoption depend on the calibre of service providers? At e-sign, we believe this issue has unnecessarily introduced confusion and slowed adoption within industry.

A lot of companies do not want to wait for smaller businesses and individuals to adopt electronic signatures on their own and are beginning to address the issue.

To assist in implementing your strategy, we will outline the most common electronic signature adoption methods.

1, Amending your company policy to accept electronic signatures usd by customers.

A growing number of individuals as well as businesses are taking the initiative and have started using electronic signature services for their own needs and operations.

Unfortunately, most contracts between businesses and their clients say nothing on the subject of electronic signatures. Without a clear policy in place, there is a risk where the electronic signature processes being used, may not be compliant, and the subsequent electronic records are not supported or enforceable.

Some companies who have implemented the electronic signature service into operations have now started to issue guidelines on how to create a list of approved electronic signature vendors. Clear policies are needed to help propel adoption and drive businesses forward.

However, the process of certifying electronic signature providers is far from simple. Accepting any electronic signature solution “as long as it meets the ‘E-sign’ law” sets a lower standard. As a carrier, you will want to ensure that any solution chosen by your business associates, has a proven method of capturing electronic evidence whilst securing the entire transaction from beginning to end.

This is why e-sign prides itself on being one of the few service providers out there who offer a unique ‘advanced’ electronic signature service (as stipulated by both E.U and federal guidelines). This ensures we capture a full audit trial for all your agreements to ensure compliance is met.

2, Allow your business to make electronic signatures and the susequent policy available all your clients.

It is becoming increasingly important to establish a corporate standard across all channels to ensure security and enforceability, and minimize implementation efforts. However, when it comes to independent customers, all too often the approach has been somewhat relaxed.

The desire to ensure a consistent, trusted approach to electronic transactions and records is the reason for carriers to offer electronic signature capability, but the benefits don’t stop there. Electronic signatures gives that span of control that does not exist when a paper document goes out in the mail for a signature. This gives those involved complete involvement and control at every stage until the transaction is completed, as well as visibility into every action taken by transaction participants. (in particular to e-sign, the full audit trial).

It also eliminates the risk of missing, misfiled or incomplete paperwork, which can compromise your ability to demonstrate compliance or defend against disputes.

Despite all the benefits of electronic signatures, there may still be a little apprehension in the marketplace to adopt them as the ‘standard’. This is because as a new concept, most businesses during the early stages only had access to the most basic electronic signature with no validation processes, which resulted in very limited success in implementation.

However, this is now rapidly changing due to the ease of using electronic signatures on mobile devices, as well as the flexibility and integration into other commonly used web-based solutions.

One of the last remaining barriers that is holding both industry and the use of electronic signatures back is the traditional and nostalgic stance companies take in using wet signatures and not making the necessary evolutionary changes to adopt a more efficient approach.

“Businesses need to listen to customers who want to complete transactions with ease, or risk losing them to competitors who have already made the simple change to their policy and practices at a minimum of expense”.

3. Integrate electronic signatures into your other ‘e-solutions’.

It’s become apparent that any electronic applications or ‘apps’ that your business may use as part of your client interface, requires some kind of electronic signature capability integrated into its processes as part of your business solutions.

As well as the obvious reason already laboured on business efficiency, It removes the requirement for the clients to learn or try to adopt the various signature methods in the market place, some of which are unnecessarily complex, and as a business trying to promote simplicity and ease of use, it prevents the possibility of your business having to accommodate multiple signature service providers from a very diverse client base.

It is important however to recognise the need to ensure your business integration with a secure and reliable signature service provider, which fits in with your business model, and can prove ease of use and beneficial to those who will experience it throughout your customer interface platforms. Again the emphasis must be on trusted, simple and secure.

Summary

As a business who has innovation and efficiency at the core of its values for customer care, as well as its standard practices, it is important to have a clear and simple strategy to implement the aforementioned changes that can only create opportunity, increase revenue build on customer loyalty, whilst at the same time reduce operating costs and create a competitive differentiation between you and those in your market sector.

To achieve this, it is important to give consideration to the following;

  • Do you have an electronic signature policy in place that is also accessible to your current and potential clients and business associates?
  • What electronic signature solutions are already available to you? Are they fit for purpose and being utilised to achieve maximum efficiency? Do they form part of your corporate standard?
  • Have you looked at both your electronic and wet signature standards? Do they fit with your other electronic solutions, and are they exposing you to any risk?

E-sign is designed to provide you the simplest way to conduct business in the marketplace using the most advanced and secure electronic signatures.

We offer plans and services that are simple use, easy to implement, and all at a minimum cost to your business.

We can be trailed on any of the plans, and advise this is done against other signature service providers, as this helps illustrate our ease of use coupled with our unique and advanced, secure service.

e-sign ‘enterprise’ plan - If your organisation forms part of a larger corporate structure, we offer the e-sign enterprise plan.

Here we can tailor our service to suit your operational equirements, and implement the e-sign service into your corporate infrastructure, in order to integrate the electronic signature service into your electronic customer interface, in order to introduce the benefits highlighted in this paper.

For more information please feel free to visit us at either our international site www.e-signhq.com or our UK based service at www.e-sign.co.uk.

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