A customer relationship management (CRM) suite that organizes, automates and synchronizes sales, marketing, customer service, technical support and other important customer-facing functions delivers a world of benefits to the enterprise and customers alike. However, the system suffers from certain inherent limitations and drawbacks. There are two big limitations—first, the inability to secure a legally-binding commitment within the system, and second, one cannot really be sure of who has actually sent across or modified the file in the first place. Digital signatures offer a solution to both these stumbling blocks.
Digital signatures, an electronic version of a person’s paper signature, have earned widespread popularity in recent times as a means to not just authenticate the identity of a sender, but also to ensure that the original content of the message or document remains unchanged. Also, the option to place an electronic timestamp on the signature confirms the actual time the document was committed, as opposed to the time of sending the document.
Such basic advantages of digital signatures apart, there are many reasons why digital signatures are a perfect match and an integral add-on to any CRM suite:
- For all the seamless paperless integration that CRM suites offer, the most critical step of the process—signing the contract—remains outside the system, all because of the requirement of legally binding signatures. Scanning paper documents and uploading them to the CRM has its own limitations and drawbacks in the form of delayed or incomplete upload, loss of productivity, chances of manual errors, and other issues. Digital signatures now make it possible to make the contracting process completely paperless. Digital signature vendors of repute, such as Docusign, offer high level of security to ensure that others do not tamper with the signatures themselves. As a matter of fact, many countries now recognize digital signatures as legally valid signature, on the same level as a handwritten signature on documents.
- At the basic level, digital signatures work with sales order forms, contracts, support agreements and all other documents that require a signature. It becomes possible to merge data from CRM records easily to such documents, thereby improving accuracy and making the process of preparing documents-to-sign considerably uncomplicated. The digital contract management, offered by digital signature providers such as Docusign, makes it easy to send signed documents securely from any account, contact, lead or custom entity record, and track the status of such documents in real time. Once signed, it becomes possible to view signed documents as a PDF and also store or integrate it to other CRM records, facilitating easy tracking and honoring of commitments mentioned in the contract.
- The contract management process offers real-time visibility and control that allows all relevant stakeholders to track the exact status of the contract in real time, and understand what exactly needs to be done to close the deal. Also, all the recipients of the agreements or the key stakeholders get access to the actual documents that are being signed, and they don’t have to cross-check for sleight of hand changes between the documents before they put down their own signatures.
- Very often, with multiple editions and multiple versions at play, the latest status becomes confusing. Digital signatures end that confusion and assure the recipient that they have received the document in its intended un-tampered form.
- Digital signatures deliver the twin benefits of speed and cost-effectiveness. It becomes possible to complete the contract management process in a short period of time, without the need to send documents to and fro using couriers, or even arrange physical meetings.
- The contract management process offers intuitive features such as sending automated reminders to recipients when documents remain unsigned, setting expiry date to limit when agreements are available for signature, control access to sensitive documents by applying password controls in CRM, and more.
- Signed electronic contract integrated to the CRM suite leaves an audit trail. It becomes possible to track document forwarding, and see the history of its routing and signing appended to each document. Live dashboards provide visibility of all agreements awaiting signature and documents already signed. All these may be co-opted to analytics for greater insights.
All these factors make digital signatures an integral addition to any CRM suite. Regardless of how the company plans to fit in electronic signatures to their process, what is sure is that it would transform the existing process for the better and improve efficiency, productivity, and ROI.
To know more about how digital signatures play a pivotal role in a CRM suite, access our webinar on Docusign with Salesforce, held on 18 November 2014.