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July 14, 2017

The digital balance – getting it right

As most business leaders recognise, there is always more that can be done in terms of going digital; don’t rest on your laurels.

By James Nunns

It’s time for businesses to wake up to the demands of today’s digitally-savvy consumers. Expectations have changed immensely in even the last few years and organisations that prove slow to adapt will very quickly become irrelevant for customers.

Helen Sutton, VP Enterprise Northern Europe, DocuSign

If you order a coffee and can’t find your bank card – what do you do? Use your mobile wallet. Need to book a table at your favourite restaurant? Open up an app on your phone. It’s easy, straightforward and convenient.

Consumers want this digital experience from every business they engage with. We looked more deeply into the digital demands that people are placing on businesses of all shapes and sizes and found that 88 percent of consumers expect to complete agreements and transactions digitally. That’s a huge majority and should be a massive wake-up call to any business that is dragging its heels.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of executives – 92% – agree that their organisation could be doing more to go digital. So what’s changed, and how can businesses catch up with consumer demands?


Changing consumer demand

People want convenience, speed and security when completing transactions. Processes such as posting, faxing or physically filling in a form are seriously outdated now and convey a negative perception of an organisation. Fifty-nine percent of people think that requiring the completion of paper forms makes an organisation appear outdated and this will only increase as younger generations become active consumers.

Think about the last time you sent anything through the post. Would you even trust it to reach its destination securely? Sixty-two percent of people do not, so any concerns you have are shared across the UK. There’s a reason for this. Two in five consumers have had a document lost in the post in the past year, leading many to ignore this method of communication.

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This is exactly why so many people demand digital options from the businesses they deal with. It’s clear that the days of wet signatures and postal applications are long gone and this will pose a huge challenge – and opportunity – for businesses of every size and industry. The question is, how are these organisations adapting?


The challenge is real

Some businesses may think that digitisation isn’t an imminent necessity – it is. The reputational damage of being slow to upgrade services can be just as damaging as the initial loss of custom. For example, continuing to ‘force’ consumers to post sensitive documents when they clearly no longer trust the process, is frustrating. Simply upgrading the basics like this can help improve security, and build stronger relationships with consumers.

With a majority of the general public wishing to complete agreements digitally, not doing so alienates a lot of current, and potential customers. To underline this point, more than half of consumers told us that they would spend their money with an organisation providing digital capabilities, over one that doesn’t.

As with any change in operations though, reaching the sweet spot of meeting customer expectations can sometimes be easier said than done.


Breaking down barriers

Even within the same business, we often see a significant disparity between individual departments that are leading the way in terms of digital adoption and those that lag behind. Just under half (44 percent) of decision makers have led digital projects without consulting the IT department. The fact that separate lines of business are taking responsibility for meeting the needs of their customers and delivering a better service, is hugely encouraging to see.

Simultaneously however, this needs to be matched by an overarching company structure and culture that allows employees to take the initiative when it comes to digital projects. If departments are given too many loopholes to jump through, many may find a way around regulations, bringing the security of the company’s data into doubt in the process.

Read more: DocuSign CEO: New chief Daniel Springer talks innovation, success as a public company and making paper obsolete with CBR

This is where executive buy-in is critical and we are seeing encouraging signs with regards to the digital attitudes of those at the top of businesses. Of senior decision-makers, 61 percent want to complete agreements digitally at work, in the same way as they do in their personal lives. This is supported by the fact that C-level executives are far more likely to treat digital transformation as their number one priority; this continued support from those at the top level will be pivotal to completing, successful, secure digital transformations across a business.

Taking your organisation digital, by its very nature, is an ever evolving process. It is not a one off injection of fresh thinking and new tools but a complete culture change that should transcend the business. Fail to embrace this and an organisation may not just lose valuable customers, it could struggle to hold onto its most forward-thinking employees. As most business leaders recognise, there is always more that can be done in terms of going digital; don’t rest on your laurels.

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