e-Signature Solution Workflows – What They Are and How to Simplify

Howard Schulman

Every business can relate to the frustrations of managing document workflow—the entire process from creation to archival or destruction. The stages of a document’s lifecycle include creation, storage, categorizing, metadata tagging, delivery or sharing, repurposing, review and reporting, archiving and / or destruction.

And now, as businesses incorporate e-Signature solution workflows into their processes, they can realize fully optimized digital streamlining of their document workflows. eSignature solutions can radically improve document completion for businesses such as financial institutions and insurance businesses – delivering critical business results and simplifying complex customer journeys. With eSignatures, customers can sign digitally, eliminating office appointments, printing, scanning and – for heaven’s sake – faxing.

Today, Customers Demand Digital & Convenient

Today’s customers expect all their company interactions to be as free of friction as possible – even when it comes to documentation. It’s clear, convenience is of utmost importance and most businesses work hard to accommodate these changing consumer expectations.

What Are eSignature Solution Workflows?

How does a business build an optimal user experience across all channels, while ensuring compliant document workflows? And when considering all the opportunities to go digital across all channels, what is required to build eSignatures as a shared service across the organization, given the many diverse signing processes in each line of business and channel?

Fortunately, there are defined best practices for eSignature workflows so that businesses can be confident that they are processing signatures appropriately and efficiently.

Standard Steps in an eSignature Solution Workflow

Most people view eSignature technology as a means of capturing consent, but an eSignature solution actually does much more than this. In order to produce an enforceable end result, an eSignature solution must be able to manage the entire signing process end-to-end. That includes the following steps:

  1. Give signers access to the documents
  2. Identify and authenticate signers
  3. Present documents for review in a compliant manner
  4. Capture data from participants and/or upload documents at the time of signing (if applicable)
  5. Optionally re-verify the signer’s identity at the time of signing
  6. Establish intent and capture consent through the act of signing
  7. Provide the ability to insert additional documents into the transaction (if applicable)
  8. Deliver the final signed documents to all parties

Let’s take a closer look at these steps to shed some light on the best practices for efficient and compliant eSignature workflows.

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1. Give signers access to the documents

The first thing to do is to determine how the user will receive access to the document. Sometimes email is the vehicle but documents can be delivered just as well with web or mobile apps. This is usually determined by whether the transaction is remote or face-to-face, whether the signers are online or not and whether eSignatures are to be integrated into an existing app.

New technologies can deliver documents through secure text messages and web browsers. These are proving to be very convenient for customers and translating into a higher completion rate.

2. Identify the party

Signers should be identified if they are the person the document is intended to be delivered to. Authentication type will hinge on the risk involved, the type of transaction and whether the customer is new or existing. Basic identification can include phone number validation, multi-factor authentication or for higher risk transactions, it can be achieved with the sharing of photo ID in real time while the customer is on their mobile device.

3. Present documents for review in a compliant manner

The best practice for presenting the document to the customer is through a secure web browser – particularly best if it is a mobile device. ( Remember you’ll want to complete the signature instantly if possible) That way, there is no special app or software needed so there’s no problem with incompatibility. On-screen document presentment should be clear and consistent when viewing on a trusted web browser.

4. Capture data from participants and/or upload documents at the time of signing (if applicable)

Most eSignatures are required at the end of a document only but sometimes a company will need input from the customer before the signature. Additional data or other documents should be able to be accommodated for these situations. The PDF or word document should be able to be converted to an eform, for easily filling out information.

5. Optionally re-verify the signer’s identity at the time of signing

In some situations, additional data may be required to authenticate a signer for an additional time and the system should prompt appropriately when required.

6. Establish intent and capture consent through the act of signing

This is usually the step that most people consider as the full act of an eSignature. Clicking on a signature shows a customer’s intent to honor the transaction so there’s more to it than just the digital characters. Most eSignature systems offer various signing options and you should use one that is easy for customers yet captures all the components you need for the business. For example, give the signer the option to tap to sign and apply multiple signatures at one time.

7. Provide the ability to insert additional documents into the transaction (if applicable)

In some situations such as insurance, auto lending, bank onboarding, additional documents will need to be added to the transaction. Sometimes customers will need to include medical (Note: if medical documents are required to be sure the process is HIPAA compliant) and legal documents in order to complete a transaction too. A photo from a mobile device should be able to be easily introduced into the eSignature workflow process to complete the deal.

8. Deliver the final signed documents to all parties

Finally, what all vested parties have been waiting for—the final signed document. Based on the situation, electronic and/or print copies of the final documents need to be made available to the interested parties. Companies can send customers an email or SMS with a link to a secure site to access the documents so that they will have access to it as long as they need. Mobile users need to be able to download documents in a web browser or app and then save to the mobile device or cloud storage.

Transitioning from paper to digital documents is really a simple process, especially when it comes to eSignatures is a true time saver for you and your business. Once the eSignature workflow is in place, it’s easy to let it do its magic while you tend to the business of running your business.

Streamline Documentation Workflows with e-Signature

Those who have adopted an e-Signature solution understand that it can be the answer to increasing completion rates, reducing staff workload all while also increasing efficiencies in the office. It’s great for improving customer experiences, too, as customers can complete important transactions for their business or personal needs with a few simple clicks.

However, even if your business already has some kind of eSignature solution – it is most likely a 1st generation esign solution ( unless you are already a Lightico customer).

What is a Next Generation e-Signature?

Most of the electronic signature choices you may have already heard of probably are ESIGN and UETA compliant as well. But these are rather basic criteria to meet. To enhance the customer experience and drive business value, you’ll need to use a next-generation eSignature that’s more in line with the behavior of today’s consumers. Below, are some key drivers to consider:

Is it easy to use?

If your customers are required to scan documents during a document workflow, they’re more likely to abandon the entire signature process. To boost the completion of agreements, it’s crucial that the experience be seamless, particularly for customers away from desks and outdated tools, so that they can complete any task directly from their mobile phone in one shot.

Is it flexible?

You’ll want to use an eSignature that enables different solutions, like agent-assisted or self-serve options. For your agents, an eSignature solution should be easily incorporated into your organization’s wider processes and workflows as we described above. Most importantly the eSignature solution must integrate with your current CRM system.

Is it in real time?

Your e-Signature solution should facilitate an open, real-time and secure customer-agent collaboration. A next-generation eSignature that enables live collaborative document review and instantly completed signatures will enhance the customer experience while reducing the chance of abandonment due to customer frustration or confusing legalese.

Is it comprehensive?

Ideally, an eSignature solution should be able to facilitate the completion of the entire process, everything from ID/document collection to form-filling and payments. Ultimately, the goal of every agent/customer interaction is to close as quickly as possible, with electronic signatures being one component of this process.

The mismatch between today’s on-the-go customers and desk-oriented technologies has made it nearly impossible to deliver the instant, mobile, compelling and memorable experiences that today’s customers demand with basic, dated eSignature solutions.

With the 8 step e-Signature solution workflow guidance above, and the questions posed to facilitate a discussion around next-generation eSignatures, your business should be on its way to streamline document workflows, improve customer satisfaction and dramatically increase contract completion rates.

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