All eSignature solutions have been developed to serve the same purpose: to demonstrate the consent of a party or parties in a legally-binding way. However, that’s where the similarities end. There are numerous variations among eSignature products, some of which are outlined here in a different post.
From Microsoft Word documents to Adobe PDF readers and beyond, there are plenty of formats that allow a signature line to be embedded. While all of these are certainly a step up from inconvenient wet signatures on physical documents, they are not optimized for a mobile experience. And in today’s world, solutions that are designed specifically to conduct transactions with customers through their smartphones give the companies that use them a significant competitive advantage.
The rise of smartphone usage
According to Adobe’s Media & Metrics report, there has been a 68% increase in smartphone web traffic in the United States since 2015. Meanwhile, both desktop and tablet traffic saw decreases.
It also appears that as mobile internet usage is increasing, some consumers are taking it to the extreme, and their only internet-connected device is a smartphone. Pew Research found that 17% of Americans fall into the category of “smartphone-only” households, and this percentage is even higher among lower-income and young Americans.
Even among those Americans who are able to connect to the Internet via additional devices besides a smartphone still tend to prefer their smartphone for going online. A plurality of smartphone owners (46%) now say they would rather go online through their smartphone, while only 30% prefer a desktop, laptop, or tablet.
However, it’s interesting to note that the rise in web traffic from smartphones hasn’t translated to increased use of smartphone apps. Between 2016 and 2017, Americans opened apps 22% less often, and if this study was conducted in 2020 there is no doubt the decline would be even more dramatic. The only apps that didn’t see declines over this period were giants such as Amazon and Facebook.
Why first-generation eSignature solutions aren’t built for a smartphone world
The surge in smartphone usage and even preference among Americans is only poised to keep increasing. But even if Americans continue to hold onto their laptops and desktops, that doesn’t mean these channels are ideal for conducting transactions with customers. That’s because customers only have access to their computers during parts of the day: at work only, at home only, or both but not during their daily errands and commutes. On the other hand, the vast majority of customers have their smartphone in hand, pocket, or purse throughout the entire day.
First-generation eSignature solutions were an asset in the past, when smartphones were either nonexistent or peripheral for conducting business. But today, traditional eSignatures carry some major disadvantages, including:
- Poor customer experience: Formats like PDF and Word are generally sent via email, and meant to be signed via a computer. Downloading such contracts and documents to a smartphone is possible, but clunky and difficult due to lack of mobile optimization.
- Time lags: Businesses looking to close deals as quickly as possible should give customers the ability to sign in real time. The more time passes between the verbal agreement with a customer and the signing itself, the greater chance of a customer having second thoughts, forgetting to sign, or overlooking the document in a crowded email inbox.
- Lack of clarity: When businesses send documents to customers for signing, there’s always a possibility that customers will be confused or misunderstand the document’s content, or the process of signing itself. This confusion sometimes results in customers making mistakes, and having to re-sign later, wasting precious customer and agent time. In other cases, customers may hesitate or abandon the process altogether.
The advantages of mobile-optimized eSignatures
Unlike traditional eSignature solutions, mobile-optimized platforms are built for today’s on-the-go, convenience-minded customer that’s juggling a million competing priorities. The best eSignature solutions available on the market today put the mobile experience at the heart of the eSignature, while still allowing customers to fill out forms and documents and provide a signature through computer or laptop, if they choose. The best mobile eSignature solutions don’t require customers to download an app; all they need is a smartphone instant messenger.
This increased flexibility is exactly what today’s companies need, especially as customer expectations skyrocket and patience for cumbersome or slow-moving processes dwindles.
A mobile eSignature solution works by an agent sending a customer a text message link that opens up to a secure mobile environment. There, customers are able to upload documents, fill out forms, and submit ID for verification. After they submit and review everything that’s required from the process, they can provide their signature through typing or squiggling it with a finger. Meanwhile, they are guided over the phone with an agent who has the same view of the process as the customer, and can ensure a smooth and error-free process.
Here are some of the significant benefits businesses stand to gain by adopting a mobile-optimized eSignature solution:
- Meeting customers where they are: Instead of waiting for customers to get computer access so they can provide a signature on a PDF, mobile-optimized eSignatures allow businesses to capture customer consent when interest is highest, whether that customer is lying on a beach, waiting at an airport, on his sofa, or at work.
- Built-in compliance: Businesses can rely on a plug-and-play level of compliance and legality, as it’s already built into the solution. There is no need for them to handle their own compliance measures through certificates or anything else. It’s all built in.
- Ability to sign once: Whether customers sign or type their signature, mobile-optimized solutions allow them to tap to copy and past their signature onto additional pages or documents. There’s no need for customers to manually create their signature again and again.
- Multi-party: The best mobile-optimized eSignature solutions make it easy for multiple parties to provide their signatures in real time, without any extra steps or hassle.
- Tamper-proof audit trail: All eSignatures created come with a tamper-proof, time-stamped audit trail, providing peace of mind to security-conscious customers and companies alike.
- Agent-guided: Instead of agents dealing with stacks of paperwork and reading Terms & Conditions outloud (no need –– it’s already in the mobile document itself), talent can be used for more important functions, such as guiding customers through the document review and signing process in real time.
The bottom line: Mobile-first is customer-first (and profit-first)
Businesses who care about providing a smooth and seamless customer experience, while minimizing turnaround time should look no further than a mobile-optimized eSignature solution. Such solutions are proven to increase completion rates, lower the risk of errors, and improve efficiences. In today’s smartphone-centric world, this is by far the best way of conducting transactions and gaining consent from customers.