Even before the coronavirus, the world was well on its way to normalizing digital working. Now with Zoom meetings and work-from-home embedded across the economy, the time is right to leave handwritten signatures on contracts behind.
Is there anything more fundamental to business than contracts? They’re the ties that bind companies to customers, a set of mutually-agreed vows that enable the exchange of products and services for money. No contract, no cash. Simple.
Contracts are so basic that they remain mostly untouched by digitization.
Even as we conduct more and more work online, that bit's still held sacrosanct somehow -- as if only the physical flourish of pen-on-paper can seal the commercial bond.
For all its ritual significance, insisting on a manual signature really holds things up. Getting a new contract through Legal is hard enough, but the process of physically sending, signing, and receiving paper documents adds further cost and delay to something that could be done at the click of a button.
In this blog we’ll delve into the benefits of adding signing software to the contract flow, accelerating how quickly companies can get business deals done.
Good times, but slow times
In days of yore, a big contract with a new client would be signed in-person. A meeting would be convened, travel would be expensed, hands would be shaken, and drinks might be poured. It was fun, but it took time.
Now things happen faster. Same-day courier services and just-in-time delivery get documents relatively quickly from point A to point B. But overnight service isn’t cheap, and there’s still an assumption that contracts and other important papers need to be handled manually – in two directions. Things get mislaid, overlooked, or even lost.
With digital contract signing the risks associated with shifting paper evaporate. Deals are finalized faster and sales teams can get on with turning leads into prospects.
From weeks to minutes
By enabling both parties in a deal to sign contracts digitally, e-signatures turn a process of weeks into a matter of hours.
Digital signing is secure, reliable, compliant – and legally binding. It sensibly shortcuts all the logistical risks and assorted glitches that delay new initiatives, and some of the biggest companies in the world are already using them to streamline contract processes and book new revenues faster.
They work, and here’s why
- It’s just easier. No more waiting until a customer or colleague is at their desk to provide or approve a signature. Contracts can be signed instantly anytime, anywhere, from any device.
- They speed up sales processes and increase conversion rates. Digital signatures eliminate the need to print, deliver, sign, return or scan paper documents. What used to be a time-consuming, multi-step and laborious process gets easier for everyone.
- Document tracking and audit trails are already baked in. E-sig services like SignRequest provide a snapshot view of every contract sent & signed. You can follow who opened and signed a contract, send automatic reminders, or prompt signees manually to take action.
- The branding is better. Viewing and signing contracts online means all the elements of your brand identity, from colours to half-tones and topography, are displayed vibrantly – in ways only a backlit screen can deliver.
- It’s virtual, but still personal. Displays can also be customized to the recipient, maintaining the human and individual associations we make with signatures as a way to prove we’ve given assent to a complex agreement.
- It works with existing IT. In the cloud or hosted on-premise, advanced APIs mean e-signature services integrate easily with key systems like CRM and document management. Digital signatures can be applied to multiple document formats like Google Docs and PDFs. You can even set up team alerts on collaboration platforms like Slack to celebrate when a new deal has been signed.
- It’s green (really green). Remember those 90s jokes about forests of paper and documents collecting dust on shelves? Digital signatures and documents reduce paper consumption dramatically. They also make it easier to work remotely. That reduces energy consumption, minimizes commuting, while burning less fuel on trains, planes, and courier vans delivering sealed envelopes with bar-coded labels. P.S. at SignRequest we plant a tree every time someone signs up for a paid subscription.
Going digital is more important than ever
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the world was well down the road to more mobile and remote working. Now that Zoom meetings and work-from-home have become suddenly embedded in working culture, the shift to entirely digital and automated business processes has taken on a new urgency.
Our customer LiveClinic has responded to the challenges of lockdown by adopting digital signature technology and applying it in innovative new ways. One striking example is its use in the provision of medical services to under-served communities. In situations where speedy and trusted approvals are essential to providing urgent care, digital signing has literally been a life saver.
An e-signature success story
LiveClinic is a US medical technology firm focused on making advanced healthcare tech accessible to anyone. When COVID-19 started to take its toll on the US healthcare system, they realized they could use their technology assets and network of healthcare volunteers to connect with patients in need.
They created the first-ever Virtual Field Clinic with a simple mission: Stop the spread and save supplies. From the opening days of volunteer recruitment, the company found itself responding to an unexpected call for help, taking the challenges of distance and geography to entirely new levels.
To provide services in Native American communities, where a level of fear and suspicion of outsiders is part of daily life, LiveClinic had to make sure their contracts were easy to understand – even for people who had never seen a contract before.
Residents needed to understand how sensitive personal data would be protected, and the cultural importance attached to signatures couldn't be ignored. Clicking ‘yes’ to an online agreement stuffed with legalese wasn’t going to work, neither would asking an entire community to print, sign, and scan documents. They were struggling to procure gauze bandages – where would they find the resources?
Using SignRequest, signers are guided through the entire signing process, step-by-step. Thanks to our customization options, those signing always knew they were dealing with a LiveClinic representative.
With SignRequest’s rapid response and exceptional customer support, LiveClinic was able to make its services accessible to the community quickly, without sacrificing trust, compliance or ease-of-use.
With contracts averaging seven pages each, this equated to saving thousands of sheets of paper – had printing for the entire community even been an option. It would have required flying in paper, printers, scanners and then sharing these facilities, increasing the risk of further contamination.
This process would have taken weeks if not months to complete. With SignRequest it took a matter of hours.
Whatever tactile satisfaction we take from putting pen to paper, or seeing a customer’s cursive swirls rendered in ink on a hard-won agreement, the business benefits of digital signatures beat them by a country mile.
Sometimes handwritten signatures are simply impractical, but across the board, they risk causing delays when outcomes matter. Once contracts have been agreed and prepared for sign-off, digital ink is the best, fastest, cheapest, and greenest way to bring them into force.
Give digital signatures a try. Choose one of our plans and take SignRequest for a test drive today.
Or contact us and find out more