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.
But too often, marketing is the sole owner of the customer experience. That needs to change. As companies embrace digital transformation, they need to examine all of 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 narrowly as a marketing activity and not an operational transformation are missing an opportunity. In the long term, they will lose the ability to remain competitive.
The organizational experience
Gartner describes the experience business 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.
The last mile of your reputation
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. Documents must be printed, scanned, faxed, and mailed, and the inevitable delays frustrate everyone involved. And the financial hit isn’t the only result of all this paper-handling; the company’s reputation takes a hit as well.
Good design is critical in today’s world, where customer expectations have been shaped by the excellent user interfaces delivered by brands like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb. To engage the sophisticated eye of the modern buyer, businesses invest heavily in the design software, staffing, and training necessary to create high-quality design for their user interfaces and content marketing, as well as the marketing automation tools needed to deliver offers and brand messaging.
The efforts that go into even the smallest offer are not trivial. An offer begins in the boardroom and works its way through meetings with COOs and CMOs, and then it is shared with product marketing managers, who work with designers, who produce files to give to developers, who bring the concept to life and pass it along to the marketing automation team, who feed it into their system and push it to the customer, whose response is tracked, analyzed, and used to determine the next marketing action.
Yet after all that, most businesses forget the last mile. What happens after a customer “clicks here? Most companies send an agreement for the customer to print, sign, scan, and email back.
The delight fades. Frustration and even buyer’s remorse emerge as the customer realizes this new vendor isn’t going to be as easy to deal with as expected. In fact, this new vendor is just like all the other vendors. The brand takes a hit, and the loss of brand value eats away at the return on investment for all the design software, marketing automation, and time spent strategizing and producing content.
That’s the norm in business today. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Signatures are the best starting point for digital transformation
Companies across the globe 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 a good place to start a transformation is with document signature processes. 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.
The customer experience starts with the signing experience
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, and that appreciation accrues brand loyalty. A document can be redlined 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. Overall, one can see an ROI of 383% on electronic signature implementations.
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.