In almost every aspect of our lives, digital is positively impacting how we live and interact with the world around us. The advantage for SMEs is tremendous, as customers have always been drawn to the speed and responsiveness of the smaller business. Digitising business processes can only accelerate this advantage. On the flip side, why are so many SMEs risking this advantage and their customers’ loyalty by not offering the types of digital services their customers want, need and expect. My theory is the same one that makes people late for the train or a meeting: you simply believe you have more time than you do.
In our Digitise or Die: Australia’s Digital Expectations report, we wanted to uncover the truth. To pinpoint the ever increasing digital demands of customers on SMEs, to engage them in a way they’ve come to expect. And, the skills SMEs are currently missing, which might help them rise to the occasion.
RIP paper: the people have spoken
Our research found 85 per cent of Australians demand that businesses offer them electronic methods of signing agreements and purchasing products, which is no surprise in a world where so much of our lives are now digitally enabled. Doesn’t signing pieces of paper seem old school next to the speed, convenience and security of e-signatures and online documents?
Regardless of how it seems, the research makes it clear that failure to cater to this desire will have a negative impact on a business’ revenue, since 55 per cent of individuals claim they would rather deal with a business offering digital capabilities, as opposed to one that doesn’t. The message is clear, if you’re shunning digital, a large portion of your customer base is ready to respond by taking its business elsewhere.
Lost in transit
We also uncovered that people don’t like black spots. Once we have transacted, we want to follow our documentation on its journey and know that it’s safe. In a world where even simple purchases, like taxis, pizzas and online shopping can be tracked in real time, it is not surprising 53 per cent of us are no longer happy sending important documents by snail mail. Our report shows we do actively worry about documents going missing or our sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.
We also found that 72 per cent of customers have had problems in completing a transaction over the last 12 months because of issues linked to paper and manual processes. It’s a no-brainer for user-friendly tools like electronic signatures, which are at the heart of a customer centric business and can take away some of this pressure. The fact that, as a small business, you can spend so many of your precious resources on delivering a great product or service, only to make a bad impression at the point of transaction by turning dealing with your company into a headache. That’s the lasting impression, you know – not all the excellence you’ve poured into your offering.
On the plus side, SMEs have a distinct advantage in the digital age, which is that they can appear much larger than they are, and compete on a national or even global scale if they want to. But not if they are still using paper, as 56 per cent of people feel companies requiring them to complete paper forms are outdated and half of those simply say they are being inconvenienced.
Overall, this new research found 89 per cent of Australian businesses now consider going digital a top priority. And, that we’re also seeing some complacency around the move to modernise business processes, typical of times of change. Even so, the urgency to transform is being driven by your customer, with their loyalty at risk if they do not receive the level and type of service they expect.
It’s clear to me that the demand for digital services is more acute than ever, and there’s a price to pay for putting the digital conversation on the back burner.
Luke Hamman, Head of SMB Sales, DocuSign ANZ