How to Create Forms to Capture Electronic Signatures

Customers expect every interaction they have with a business to be as simple, convenient and frictionless as possible. It’s hard to imagine anything less in line with this expectation than the slow, cumbersome and often confusing process of filling out and signing a traditional paper or PDF form.

To deliver a better experience, more and more companies are turning to guided digital forms that can be completed quickly and easily from any device, and then immediately signed electronically. As the name implies, these forms guide users through the process in a simple, step-by-step manner, asking them questions that adapt based on previous answers, and collecting all of the necessary information with the least amount of friction imaginable.

This doesn’t just provide a faster, friendlier experience for customers. Self-service also provides a host of benefits for the business, including quicker application turnaround times, reduced labor costs and a drastic reduction in Not In Good Order (NIGO) forms—from 35% to less than 2%.

The problem with creating forms from scratch

With digital forms being such a win-win for both the customer and the business, the decision to make the transition is clear. The only potential hurdle is that developing digital forms—which are essentially custom apps—can take up a lot more resources than most IT departments have to spare. With the right technology, that barrier falls to the wayside. 

When you consider that an enterprise-sized financial or insurance company might have dozens of forms that need to be developed into individual, custom digital experiences, the thought of making the transition to digital forms can seem overwhelming. That’s where DocuSign Guided Forms powered by SmartIQ can make all the difference. It provides an easy-to-use, modular platform that enables you to create and implement digital forms in far less time than it would take to develop them from scratch.

A low-code/no-code solution to create forms

Part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, Guided Forms provides a complete development toolset that lets you drag and drop app components to create customized, mobile-friendly digital forms without having to write any code, significantly reducing development time.

“In the past, it would have taken six to twelve months to create custom, digital forms,” says Kevin See, Deputy CIO of California’s Department of Water Resources, who has used the platform to successfully automate many of his department’s most frequently used forms, including its ten-part workers compensation claim form. “But with Guided Forms, we had the ability to implement a digital form in a matter of weeks.”

To make sure implementation goes as smoothly as possible, DocuSign will recommend a professional services engagement to work with a client to build and implement the first one or two use cases. After modeling how to do development, most companies are ready to create any additional forms on their own. Some of our clients have developed over a hundred guided forms using the platform.

A better experience throughout the customer lifecycle

Once your custom digital forms are implemented, they offer your customers a night-and-day experience when compared to traditional forms. There’s no more need to print, read instructions, follow complicated directions (if “YES” go to question 9, if “NO” answer questions 6-8 first …), possibly call customer service for assistance, sign the completed form and mail it in. Instead, the process is more akin to an interview-like conversation that your customers can have on any device, at any time, and pause at any point to finish at their convenience.

But the improved customer experience doesn’t end there. Guided Forms can seamlessly integrate with DocuSign eSignature (sold separately) to automatically generate a signature-ready agreement, so your signer doesn’t have to re-enter any information, and your business can achieve faster time to results. Even more, eSignature offers multiple options for verifying a signer’s identity before they can access the document to sign, and includes a complete audit trail that is legally admissible in court.

Even after the initial agreement is signed, the ability of Guided Forms to automatically share captured data with the rest of your systems can help enhance subsequent customer interactions. Nurturing campaigns, for instance, or additional digital forms, which can be largely pre-filled for your customers with information you already obtained.

It all adds up to a better customer experience, and better business efficiencies.

What are the ideal uses for digital forms?

Large B2C organizations with lots of customers and forms especially benefit from automating processes through Guided Forms. Financial, insurance and healthcare companies are at the top of this list. Some of the most common applications are self-service scenarios such as:

  • Opening new accounts
  • Getting insurance quotes and applying for policies
  • Filing and submitting insurance claims
  • Applying for loans
  • Changing beneficiaries

The Guided Forms platform is also ideal for government agencies looking to automate applications for permits, licenses and passports. The San Diego Airport Authority offers a great example. Before switching to digital forms, anyone who wanted to apply for a passenger pick-up permit needed to complete a complicated 30-page application. Now, they simply have to answer a handful of quick questions, and the entire process takes a fraction of the time it used to.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve also seen the use of Guided Forms expand to include things like hardship applications, loan deferrals, and essential worker permits. Basically, any self-service situation involving a standardized form or application is a good fit.

Soon to be the new standard

As digital forms continue to be adopted by organizations of all sizes, thanks in large part to solutions like Guided Forms, they will soon become the new standard—and traditional paper forms will become the exception rather than the norm. By using Guided Forms, your organization can start delivering fully adaptive, mobile-friendly experiences to your customers, while drastically reducing errors and greatly accelerating time to signature.

Get ready for the new standard and learn more about Guided Forms today.