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What are Digital Forms and Why Do They Matter?

Most businesses recognize that consistently great customer experiences can be an outstanding source of competitive advantage. Not surprisingly, customers expect companies to make their sales and service interactions as easy as possible. They compel businesses to simplify all aspects of their experiences for the fastest outcomes with the least effort. Digital forms and workflow automation are critical components of any self-service customer experience program. 

Digital media and our connected lives have increased customer expectations about what constitutes a great customer experience — while simultaneously lowering customer switching costs and increasing churn rates. These trends increase the need for companies to leverage all available technologies to try and please their audiences. This post will summarize essential information about digital forms and workflow automation and why they are such important elements of a robust digital CX strategy today.

What are Digital Forms?

Digital forms are electronic versions of what are (or would be) paper- and pdf-based forms, used to collect data. They are the latest element in a continuum of efforts to simplify customer data collection for all parties. The continuum visualizes the gradual process that began with formatted paper forms decades ago. Companies deployed paper forms to simplify customer information collection. By using a form, companies could standardize and clarify the critical information necessary to complete a task. Forms encouraged respondents to provide all the necessary information necessary. 

In the 1990s, many companies moved from paper forms to PDFs, which made it easier to distribute, fill out and collect data. PDFs were a marked improvement over paper-based form processes, but more recent advances in data collection have facilitated better tech for customer information collection. That’s where electronic forms enter the story, and their advantages over legacy approaches like the paper form are significant.

Elements of Great Digital Forms

By design, digital forms enable customers to quickly enter their information so that it can be accessed immediately by the business or organization. There is no need for transcription because the data are input into a tool that makes it immediately accessible to internal systems and teams. Further, quality digital forms automatically connect to the internal systems and processes that need the entered information to give customers what they want. 

The most basic elements of digital forms are data entry fields where customers can input things like names, social security numbers, and credit card details. Here are some additional form element types and other inputs that can be part of a digital form:

  1. Choosers and tick boxes that help customers indicate choices
  2. Structured fields that accept only specific kinds of content like phone numbers, postal codes, and financial information
  3. Tools that enable users to upload content like police reports, images, and videos
  4. Electronic signature and acknowledgment to address legal process steps
  5. Dynamic logic that adjusts the customer experience based on user characteristics or information already entered
  6. Autofill that populates form fields with known information to make it easier for the respondent to complete the process step.
  7. Tools that enable customers to download easy-to-read copies of content
  8. Explanatory “help” information
  9. Ways to escalate questions to live chat or an agent conversation

What is Workflow Automation?

Workflows are the series of steps required to complete an action. Workflow automation refers to process simplification so that formerly manual process steps can be completed automatically. It shifts responsibility for the action step from people to software. 

Automation can refer to a variety of activities:

  1. Elimination of manual actions like emailing information or manual data entry to save time
  2. Simplifying approval steps so that applications/documents are reviewed based on set standards applied by an application
  3. Automatically providing information and updates that would have been provided manually in the past 

Organizations generally seek to automate workflows to:

  • Boost efficiency
  • Eliminate human bias
  • Shorten decision cycles
  • Reduce process and data entry errors
  • Enhance staff and organizational productivity 
  • Accelerate time-to-value

When combined with digital forms, an automated workflow can reduce the time, cost, and complexity required to meet a customer’s needs. 

Why Do Digital Forms and Workflow Automation Matter?

As customer expectations for convenience and access increase, digital forms and workflow automation help organizations deliver better service experiences that:

  • Enhance customer satisfaction
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Enhance speed to issue resolution

Workflow automation is most often used for repetitive tasks that require complete precision and take significant time to complete manually. Workflow automation can address all of these issues. Workflow automation enables an organization to streamline its business processes and increase workplace efficiency and productivity.

To deliver maximum value, digital forms, and workflow automation must

  • Significantly automate and accelerate workflows
  • Offer information technology that functions across all channels and touchpoints
  • Deliver personalized user experiences that eliminate unnecessary steps and data entry
  • Validate and post collected data to ALL relevant internal platforms and systems
  • Ensure necessary security and privacy protection

Digital forms are an important element of workflow automation because customer data entry significantly reduces costs and time to value and ensures that relevant systems can access the information immediately to execute the necessary process steps. 

Many companies leverage form-builder tools to create and implement digital forms. When forms are enriched with tech to automate critical process steps, they offer a far simpler means of creating these efficient and pleasing customer experiences.

Get More Information

If you are interested in learning more about these topics, visit our website or explore some of the other content we have available on the subject. Some of our most recent articles are indexed below. You can also request a demo now. 

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