“Sign on the dotted line.” It’s a phrase most people, if not everyone, has heard at some time or another. However, increasing numbers of businesses that rely on written contracts and agreements are doing away with the dotted line—at least on paper—and transitioning to electronic signatures (e-Signatures) and e-Signature services. These options allow users to collect, allow users to collect, store, and easily retrieve electronically signed documents—from leases and other rental agreements to utility services contracts, payment agreements (one-time or recurring), insurance policies, and more. And they’re well worth implementing.
How e-Signature Works
The basics of e-Signature are easy to understand. With an e-Signature model in place, merchants prepare an electronic document for a particular consumer and pre-populates it with payment details and other data. The consumer receives an email that contains an invitation to sign the document, along with a link they must click to access it. After reviewing the document, the consumer uploads, types, or draws their signature; then clicks a button indicating that they have finished doing so—and the signed “paperwork” is returned to the merchant.
Some merchants have questioned whether e-Signatures are legally binding—and they are. This has been the case since 2000, when the ESIGN Act was signed into law. Additionally, in 2008, the PDF file format became an open standard to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as ISO 32000. Digital signatures are part of that format.
Merchants that opt for e-Signature services will see a variety of benefits for signing on.
1. Cost savings, because documents that require an e-Signature can be sent to and returned by recipients in just a few minutes, without days spent in transit. There’s no chance of documents getting lost in the mail or misplaced by consumers, as well as less likelihood that consumers will cause delays by procrastinating when it comes to signing their paperwork. In fact, research from Forrester indicates that using e-Signature services reduces document turnaround time by 80 percent—from an average of five days to 37 minutes.
Cost savings from replacing printed, mailed documents with electronic documents and e-Signatures are equally impressive, if not more so. The Electronic Signature & Records Association pegs this savings at 86 percent, which includes conserving the cost of paper, printer ink, processing, and storage. Forrester’s research indicates that the total savings for businesses that transition to e-Signatures from paper range from 55 percent to nearly 79 percent, and other figures show an estimated total dollar savings of approximately $20 per document.
Further cost-cutting comes from eliminating unauthorized chargebacks from ACH attempts. Consumers cannot claim that they never authorized an ACH payment if their signature is on file and easily accessible to merchants through a service like E-Complish’s E-Doc
2. Improved productivity, resulting from eliminating time-intensive processing, filing, and retrieval of signed paper documents. According to Forrester, going the e-Signatures route leads to a labor savings of 22,000 hours each year. And labor that was previously devoted to these tasks can be re-directed to revenue-generating business tasks and projects.
Moreover, tracking and locating paperless records is easier and faster than tracking and locating paper ones, saving additional time and eliminating setbacks caused by lost files. A study conducted by OneSpan BMU reveals that migrating to e-Signatures decreases the incidence of lost files by 66 percent.
3. Enhanced security. Documents that have been signed using an e-Signature option are far less likely than paper documents to be intercepted, read, altered, or destroyed by unauthorized party. Unlike paper documents, they also cannot be misappropriated from merchants’ filing cabinets. e-Signature solutions providers, including E-Complish, leverage strict safeguards and security protocols to keep imposters from forging others’ simulated signatures or submitting their electronic paperwork for financial gain.
4. Better customer service and reputation. Clients today want better customer service and are increasingly looking for new, more convenient ways to receive, sign, and return documents. Providing these improves customer service and solidifies merchants’ reputation as client-focused, tech-savvy, and future-ready.
Upping the ante somewhat, more and more customers prefer to do business with companies that have introduced environmentally friendly practices. e-Signature fits the bill.
Find out more about E-Complish’s EDoc E-signature service, or schedule a consultation, here.