eSignature solutions for Work-at-home measures

Young man working at home because of flu

Technological disruption in the world of business has brought about an unprecedented flexibility for today’s employees and workers.  With the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, millions of people around the world are under quarantine and many others have received advises to work at home.  However, thanks to technologies like electronic signatures (eSignatures), many people are still able to work relatively normally at home as though they were in their office.
So in this article, we are going to be exploring what eSignatures are, their legality under Canadian law, and how they can be used.

eSignatures:  What are they?

eSignatures have been around for nearly two decades, and they have been since recognized by many businesses and individuals. They are basically signatures in electronic form.  Under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), an electronic signature is “a signature that consists of one or more letters, characters, numbers or other symbols in digital form incorporated in, attached to or associated with an electronic document”.  Many of Canada’s provincial governments have also defined their own legislation for electronic signatures. For example, Ontario’s Electronic Commerce Act recognizes the use of electronic signatures as having the same function as regular “wet” signatures as long as they satisfy certain requirements.  These requirements are that the electronic signature must:

  •     Be able to identify the person who signed, and
  •     Be able to be reliably associated with the document signed.

In short, electronic signatures are legal.
eSignatures can come in many different forms, and typically have an authentication process with which to identify a signer. The authentication process could simply be asking for an email address and password, or a more complex multi-factor authentication involving SMS codes and other authentication methods. The authentication process helps to accurately identify the signer of a document.

How can I use eSignatures?

Often the easiest and most convenient way to obtain electronic signatures is to use electronic signature services like Signority. Such services often have built-in authentication methods and encryption processes. This keeps documents secure and private, while meeting the requirements for a valid electronic signature. They also facilitate the creation, tracking, and managing of signature-requiring documents. For example, Signority’s electronic signature service allows users to define a workflow for documents by simply adding an order in which recipients must sign a document.

Why should I use eSignatures?

An eSignature solution adds flexibility to your work, and lets you get documents signed at any time, anywhere.  This is especially important today as more people are forced to work at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. But not only does eSignatures give you added flexibility, but it also has many other benefits as well.  One of the most important is that eSignatures save a lot of time and bring flexibility for both you and your clients to gain high productivity. This increases your competitiveness in the market. So along with helping you continue working at home, eSignatures can also help you do your work better.
 

Electronic signature’s role in education

Building a Worse Product to Improve Sales

Time is money

Where normally the signing and receiving of contracts of academic staff is a long and gruelling process, the use of electronic signatures cuts down on the time needed to accomplish this by a significant amount. The implementation of Signority within Algonquin College’s Centre for Continuing and Online Learning saw the process of sending and receiving signed documents shortened from taking many weeks, to only a few days.

What’s best for your staff

The process of printing, signing by hand, and scanning documents requires much more time and resources than simply signing with a device and sending. The old method is tedious, especially for staff like part-time professors that may have to undergo this process much more often than once per semester. In making the task of signing documents easy, staff are reportedly happier and can focus more of their time and energy on other important business.

Administrators approve

Many staff members using Signority in colleges and universities have commented on how much they prefer the electronic process, and for good reason. Electronic signatures not only make for a quicker signing process but allow for easy organization and tracking. You will be able to tell who has or hasn’t signed yet by simply checking your dashboard on the website or the app.

Celebrating Two Years of a Digital Government

On October 6, 2017, history was made in the e-signature industry.  The Government of Canada and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding separately in Ottawa and London using electronic signature technology.  This marked the first time two different countries electronically signed an international document.
Originally, representatives of the two countries were going to meet together in person to sign the Memorandum.  However, one of the representatives was not able to make it to the meeting, so the Government of Canada turned to e-signature technology.  This let both representatives to electronically sign the document at the same time in two different locations.

Working Towards a Digital Government

The Memorandum itself is a key step towards a digital and open government.  It is also crucial to providing better digital public resources.  The document says that both Canada and the UK will support each other in their goals to encourage the wide-spread use of digital public tools.  Also, both governments will work to encourage economic growth through the open markets by stimulating start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses. This move aims to level the playing field for start-ups and smaller businesses to create fair competition between all companies.  The two governments will also work towards creating a more open government, and making government documents accessible to the public. The Memorandum also mentions teaching children how to code.  This addresses the importance of giving the next generation useful skills in an increasingly digital world.
Canada and the UK are not the only ones aiming to harness digital technology to better the lives of their citizens.  Digital9 is a group of nine countries founded in 2014 by five countries, including the UK, under the name Digital5.  The countries of Digital9 work together to create a more accessible and useful digital world. In February 2018, Canada joined the group along with Uruguay.  Since then two more countries–Mexico and Portugal–have joined.
The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding using e-signature technology is a step towards global sustainable living.  E-signature technology allows governments, businesses, and individuals to digitize their work, and save paper and trees.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign up now and get free access to Signority’s team and individual plans.

Millennials At Work: How to Manage the New Age Workforce

Learning about Millennials at work and how to incorporate them

Get ready to throw out everything you think you know about the millennial generation and learn from a millennial with 22 years experience under their belt. Millennials get a bad rap but with the shifting demographics, they will begin to make up a large portion of your working force. How will you learn to adapt and deal with your Millennials at Work? 
Before I get started, let’s go back and refresh our memory on some other generations, so we can easily see the differences and how they compare.

Generation Breakdown

Baby Boomer

Baby Boomers upbringing directly impacted their values and views of the world. Born between the years of 1946-1964, they grew up in political and social turmoil. As such, they highly value security and stability and aren’t afraid to sacrifice for their jobs. They are extremely job-focused, work-centric, and believe success entails sacrifice. They appreciated clearly outlined goals and tasks, and favour traditional forms of training. Baby Boomers are extremely competitive, and believe workers should “pay their dues”. Since they just missed being raised with the internet, their preferred means of communication is face-to-face, or through email.

Generation X

Generation X includes those born between the years of 1965-1984. They were victims of their parents’ sacrifice, and, consequently, many were latchkey kids. They are self-reliant, self-managing and independent. They value work-life balance and are not necessarily motivated by money. Instead, they want to feel pride in their work and want their work to make a difference. Gen X’ers are adaptable, resourceful and not afraid to change jobs frequently. They are results focused, technically skilled, and more skeptical than their parents.

Millennial

Millennials have certainly been given a bad rap. We have been branded as lazy, entitled narcissists. Well, believe it or not, I took a break from creeping social media to dispel these false claims and find the truth. For starters, we’re definitely not lazy. According to a recent survey, over 50% of millennial workers forwent their paid vacations last year. Even more, 25% of 18-25 year-olds did not take any time off. Globally, almost 75% of millennials work 40 hours per week and an average of 45 hours per week in the United States. We’re also the most educated generation ever, and I mean ever. We are unwavering go-getters with a “can do” attitude, and serious technological and multi-tasking skills. We have ambition, confidence and extremely high expectations for ourselves. As such, we are not simply motivated by monetary compensation, with over 75% preferring to have a smaller paying career that they’re passionate about than a high-paying career they’re not passionate about. We see work and life as an integrated whole, value work-life balance and want our workplace to share some of our basic values. Millennials prefer flexible work hours, and believe performance should be judged on quality and quantity of work, not by how many hours were spent in the office. In fact, 77% of millennials believe they can be more productive with flexible schedules. Since we grew up with constant communication, we expect the same in the workplace. Constant feedback from employers on work performance should be given.

How Millennials Differ

Now that you’ve had a little bit of a refresher, let’s talk about what makes us so ~special~ (sorry, that was my narcissism speaking). As mentioned, we are the most educated workforce with a self-centered work ethic. We were raised by the internet, and have very different workforce behaviours. We live in the now and expect our work to rely on technology as much as our personal life does. Work and life are seen as an integrated whole, and we need strong work culture and meaningful relationships with our co-workers. Compared with Gen X’ers, were more adaptable and less loyal. Management must drastically change their traditional way of doing things if they wish to capture this new generation of employees.

Who Cares?

So, why care? Well, turns out millennials are the largest age group since the Baby Boomers. In North America, we are currently the largest generation in the workforce and are expected to hold 75% of positions globally in less than 15 years. Moreover, experts agree millennials have more potential than any other generation.
Even though you may have to make some changes to accommodate this new generation, the benefits are well worth the costs. With all things being equal, simply decreasing turnover can save your organization big bucks, in the long run, considering employee turnover can cost as much as 150% of said employee’s salary. High turnover rates can also decrease employee engagement. Moreover, according to a recent survey, 51% of businesses stated that the most expensive thing about millennials at work is their training and development— and new hires may take two years until they reach the same level of productivity!

How to Manage the Millennials at Work

Evidently, traditional management methods will not work on millennials at work. But don’t panic, these mythical creatures are not as complicated to manage as you may think. Basically, just keep a couple of things in mind:

1. Be Flexible

Millennials need flexibility. You should be flexible with the hours they work, where they work, and what they work on. We grew up in a time with 24/7 access, so we never really “turn off”. As long as your employees get the work done, it doesn’t really make a difference whether they were working 9-5 or 11-7— or whether they were in the office or at home for that matter. Moreover, almost 75% of millennials at work believe their employers are not leveraging their full skillset. You shouldn’t pigeonhole these employees, they are extremely educated and technologically skilled and should be given room to share their ideas and work on a wide range of tasks.

2. Challenge Them

Millennials want to constantly learn. We thrive in a fast paced environment and crave opportunities for growth. Challenge us, teach us new skills, and let us help out on new projects. I promise we won’t disappoint!

3. Give Constant Feedback

One of the most important things to remember when managing millennials at work is their need for constant feedback. In fact, 41% of millennials desire monthly reviews and may interpret a lack of reviews as a negative sign. The feedback should be clear and specific, don’t be vague. Let them know exactly what they are doing right, what they’re doing wrong and how they can get better.

4. Create Positive Culture

As mentioned, millennials have a very blurred line between work life and personal life. They want to be able to have fun and enjoy their work. This can be as simple as relaxing the dress code or planning more company bonding activities. Additionally, they want to feel like their work is making a difference. Emphasize and explain the vision of your business, and align their work with what’s important to them.
Millennials are definitely not scared of change. In order to keep this highly skilled workforce interested, you shouldn’t be scared either. And you never know, maybe they’ll teach you a thing or two.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Signority’s Take on Lemonade Insurance: What’s the Big deal?

Lemonade insurance new P2P app

It’s only been a couple months since the ground-breaking launch of Lemonade— and no, I’m not talking about Beyonce’s new album. But if you ask me, the company Lemonade is the Beyonce of the Insurance world.
As Shai Wininger, the co-owner, and co-founder, says: the user’s entire experience with insurance using Lemonade is entirely automated. Everything from submitting a claim to accepting an offer is mobile, simple, and fast.
Just like the best song on Beyonce’s album, you may be thinking “Hold up, how did they manage to get this going?”.  

1. What is Lemonade?

After coining the term “Peer-to-peer Insurance” and taking a very innovative approach to doing business, Lemonade plans to take on deeply rooted players in the industry. They aim to flip the traditional insurance model on its head by not taking ownership of the premiums paid by their customers— whatever their customers pay is still treated as if it’s their money! Their philosophy is to break free from the negative connotations people have with insurance, and instead, inspire trust. They do so by giving their customers more transparency and taking a flat rate— donating whatever money is left over!
We recently wrote about the ramifications P2P insurance will have on the insurance industry long-term in our article “The 4 Biggest Emerging Insurance Trends and Its Implications”.

2. Their Innovative Platform

Lemonade’s innovative online platform goes without the need of brokers. While dealing with a broker can be reassuring for some, others have issues with the self-preservation and greediness in a zero-sum game that is sometimes associated with insurance. Due to the nature of commissions and the payment structure involved in the industry, consumers are wary of brokers who are looking out for their own bottom line. With Lemonade, these worries are mitigated with an online process. Keeping overhead down, they’re able to be more transparent with their revenue model— using a simple flat fee!

3. Their Unique Offerings

Lemonade aims to solve the key intrinsic and structural problems that plague the insurance industry.  Traditional insurance companies have a conflict of interest at the core of every sector. As Lemonades CEO and co-founder Daniel Schreiber explains, “most Americans view insurance as a necessary evil rather than a social good, and that’s something we’d like to change”. Lemonade focuses on improving the overall user experience by making their buying process easier and less expensive. As mentioned, technology plays a huge role in their capabilities of providing a unique service. This has allowed them to exponentially speed up the entire process while making it more convenient and decreasing production costs. Through this, they have the ability to reduce premiums, build trusting customer relationships, and use algorithms for underwriting. Unsurprisingly, 80% of their customers are first-time insurance buyers who previously would rather have gone without insurance than purchase from a traditional company.

4. Their Social Responsibility

As previously mentioned, Lemonade doesn’t make a profit on non-payment claims. So where does the money go? Charity, of course! They are a Public Benefit Corporation and certified B-Corp. Unlike other companies, their social impact is not a marketing tool, but an integral part of their legal mission and business model. Lemonade only pockets their customer’s flat fees, and the rest goes to a charity of their choice. Customers are grouped by the claims they support, while the company will pay claims for either the customers or the charity of their choosing. For customers, this is a huge incentive and helps improve the company-client relationship. Customers feel reassured and more trusting towards their insurance providers, which will continue to build long-lasting and meaningful relationships in the future.

5. Their Revolutionary Technology

Lemonade is entirely supported by and built upon revolutionary artificial intelligence technology. Customers can send their quotes to Maya, an artificial intelligence bot, who will craft personalized insurance almost instantaneously. She removes the long and complicated process, and makes it almost enjoyable!

6. Their Reinsurance

Since the basis of Peer 2 Peer insurance relies on a common pool of money, start-ups like Lemonade may be seen as a risk— what if the money pooled is not enough to cover certain expenses? Lemonade has mitigated this worry by reinsuring itself with some of the biggest reinsurers in the industry, such as Lloyds of London, XL Catlin, Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity and much more. As Schreiber explains, through this Lemonade will be both “willing and able to pay your claims”.

7. Their Public Perception

Lemonade took a big gamble with their launch, as is the case with any start-up that tries to re-write the status quo. But without a doubt, the launch was a tremendous success. Within the first 48 hours 36,000 people visited their site, and more importantly, Lemonade had a conversion rate of over 15%— which totaled over 140 policies sold and raked in $14,300 in gross written premiums. This initial success doesn’t seem to be slowing down, as customers from all over the world have sparked interest. The company has even begun looking into expanding their operations across the United States. More surprising is the wide demographic of customers they attracted. With expectations of a higher ratio of young tech-savvy users, Lemonade was shocked to see that a large number of customers were over 55 years of age. Lemonades “switching” feature helped entice these older customers by allowing them to cancel existing insurance contracts, obtain a refund, and then sign a new digital contract with Lemonade— all with the click of a button!

8. The Future of Insurance Brokers

Brokers, don’t panic! Considering the complexity of insurance products, humans won’t be completely replaced by AI just yet. Lemonade can act as a bridge between automation and human, as certain types of insurance need different selling techniques, and the welcoming comfort of a machine doesn’t quite equate to that of a human. Insurance brokers biggest differentiator will be their ability to create, nurture and maintain relationships— a vital part of successful insurance.
Lemonade has succeeded in disrupting the age-old insurance industry. They have definitely opened the door for further development, and started a very promising future!
Schreiber and Wininger noticed the lemons of the insurance world and made Lemonade.

Green Revolution: Why You Should Go Paperless

Go Paperless and join the Green Revolution

Paper may seem harmless, but in reality, it causes severe environmental damage and has far reaching effects. It has become more important than ever for businesses to go paperless.
The pulp and paper industry is the third largest industrial polluter to air, water, and land. With this in mind, Canada and the United States are the world’s largest producers of paper and pulp products.
If we don’t smarten up soon our window of opportunity may quickly shut.

What’s the Damage?

Source Process

Right from the start, the paper and pulp industry causes severe damage to the environment, including our air, water, and soil.  As you probably know, the paper comes from trees— in fact, 35% of all harvested trees, and 40% of all industrial wood is used for paper manufacturing. The United States alone cuts down more than 68 million trees each year, just for the production of pulp and paper products. These numbers are staggering when you consider the immense importance trees have in regulating our planet’s health. Since trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen, they mitigate the harmful effects of greenhouse gas. Moreover, a single 100-year-old tree can only produce 17 reams of paper, but when it’s cut down it will release 110 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere. As such, this deforestation directly increases climate change. Not only does the removal of trees speed up the global warming process, but it also makes it more severe. Deforestation accounts for more global carbon emissions than trucks and cars combined. With this in mind, there is a strong link between high levels of atmospheric gas, and increased deaths and respiratory illnesses.
The removal of trees also severely damages the quality of our soil. Through transpiration, trees control the level of water in our atmosphere and directly help regulate the water cycle. When there are fewer trees, there’s less water! Through this, our soils become drier, negatively affecting its ability to sustain life— for both plants, and organisms. Moreover, soil and smaller plants use trees for shade. When they are removed, more UV rays are able to penetrate the ground, further drying out the soil. The removal of trees also increases surface runoff, which causes soil erosion. As such, our soil can become barren, further harming our environment.
Deforestation also threatens our planet’s biodiversity and contributes to species endangerment. Approximately 80% of the world’s land animals and plants live in forests. The removal of trees also means the destruction of their habitats and the introduction of pesticides into their ecosystem. In fact, upwards of 30 million acres of forest are lost each year. Moreover, trees help regulate a forest’s internal temperature through their canopy. The removal of the canopy fluctuates internal temperatures, which is extremely harmful to both plants and animals.
Removing trees also negatively affects neighboring and indigenous communities. More than 1.5 billion people rely on forests for the necessities, such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. Taking away their important resources causes social conflict, and threatens their livelihood.

Manufacture Process

The production of paper in of itself is also extremely harmful to the environment, neighboring communities and even their own employees. Each year, the world manufactures more than 300 million tons of paper, with 1 million tons of paper used each day. Unfortunately, paper mills emit significant levels of pollution. They release upwards of 220 million lbs of toxins each year, which affects our air, water, and soil. A measly 1 ton of paper creates 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide. This pollution has adverse effects on neighboring communities, and nearby ecosystems. They are also the largest industrial consumer of water, as the pulp and paper industry uses more water to produce 1 ton of product than any other industry. To better put this in perspective, 1.5 cups of water are needed to make one single sheet of paper, and approximately 300,000 litres are needed for 1 ton. Moreover, they are the second largest consumer of energy. To produce one ton of paper, 253 gallons of petrol are used. The production of secondary and supporting products are also incredibly harmful. For example, the production of ink relies on fossil fuels and harmful chemicals.
Even their own workers are not spared from the negative effects of paper production, as paper mill employees are subject to poor working conditions. In order to reduce wood pulp and bleach paper, employees are exposed to a toxic cocktail of chemicals. As such, they have an increased risk for dangerous health problems, like malignant lymphomas.
With all this in mind, by 2020 paper mills are expected to produce 500,000,000 tons of paper products annually.

Disposal Process

Let’s be honest, most of us do not recycle every single sheet of paper that we come in contact with— and even if we did, paper cannot be recycled indefinitely. Of the total waste in the United States of America, a staggering 40% is paper products. To hit home a bit more, 45% of paper printed in offices is thrown out by the end of the day. Unsurprisingly, 50% of the waste businesses create is paper. Even the supporting products are wasteful, as 400 million ink and 100 million toner cartridges end up in landfills each year. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, at the end of its destructive life, paper either rots or is burned. The burning of paper emits CO2, while the rotting releases methane gas— a gas that is 25 times more toxic than CO2.
Through its entire lifecycle paper causes significant, and sometimes irreparable, damage.  

Want to Help? Go Paperless

Benefits

The only way to protect the environment from paper waste is to go paperless. In a paperless world, each year the average worker can save:

  • 938 gallons of water
  • 2.5 trees
  • 56 gallons of oil
  • 595 KW (kilowatts of energy)
  • 12.15 cubic feet of landfill space

Greenhouse gas emissions would also decrease by 3.9 billion lbs annually— which is equivalent to removing 355,000 cars from the road! These benefits aren’t just environmental. By going paperless, your organization can save a ton of money! In fact, a company with only 8 employees can save $10,000 a year just by ditching paper. You would also save on ink and toner costs, which add up to $3,230 and $5,600 respectively. Even more so, businesses lose 15% of their important documents, which costs around $120 in labour to find, and $220 to finally replace. Your annual cost benefit can be upwards of $20,000!
Want to learn more about how you can go paperless? Check our blogs on 5 ways to create a paperless business or 11 resources to check to a paperless office!

eSignatures

One of the best ways to help is to simply switch to electronic and digital signatures. This simple step really has a huge positive impact, just think of how many times a day you rely on paper documents! Companies, like Signority, help you automate and digitize your document signing process with their electronic signature solutions. This leaves you with a lot less paper, and extra time to do more important things— like save time on costly internal operations and the planet!
We need to reduce, not recycle. The paper industry is out-dated, unnecessary, and extremely harmful. If we don’t change our ways soon and go paperless, we may lose our chance. If you don’t believe me, just click here to see how much paper we have produced this year alone.
Join the revolution go paperless!
Switch to digital, and switch to a more environmentally friendly business…  one small step for the office, one huge step for mankind!
Feel free to share this post with your colleagues and friends, but please try and fight the urge to print it!
Want to help save the planet? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

10 Business Mistakes You Don’t Need to Make—Because These Businesses Already Made Them

Top 10 Business Mistakes to Avoid

One sentence horror story: You find out you have made irreparable business mistakes. Now take a deep breath, that was only a warning.
Mistakes are the learning blocks of life, but also the roadblocks to your businesses success.

Take a look at the following common business mistakes, and be sure to take notes:

Social Media

1. Offensive Humour

The only thing better than saying an offensive joke is not saying an offensive joke. Might seem counter-intuitive for me to recommend you not to offend your customers, but some big name companies made this exact mistake. Pancake giant, IHOP, recently tweeted a picture of a pancake with the tagline “Flat but has a GREAT personality”. This double entendre offended their followers, and the company received a lot of backlash. Even though they deleted their tweet and apologized, the damage was done. The media and their followers were not forgiving of IHOP’s business mistakes and continued to call the company sexist and inappropriate.

2. Misused Hashtags

Might be common sense, but before you use a hashtag make sure you know the meaning behind it. Pizza company DiGirono unknowingly used a trending hashtag for domestic violence for self-promotion: #WhyIStayed You had pizza. Understandably, twitter users were outraged, and the company’s reputation was called into question. 

3. Controversial AI Bots  

Completely automating your social media may sound like a good idea in theory, but in practice, it may not be such a good thing. Last year, Microsoft introduced “Tay”, an AI-powered Twitter robot. She was designed to talk like a teenage girl, and pick up on social cues as more people interacted with her. Like a toddler at the adults’ table, she quickly picked up on inappropriate conversations and started posting incredibly offensive tweets. If you want to see chatbots done right, click here.

Public Relations

4. Not Following Current Events

With the instant connection that social media brings, companies must always be aware of current issues. Uber fell victim to this when they unintentionally walked into a political firestorm. During Trump’s recent travel ban, many taxi and car sharing services decided to temporarily halt their services in solidarity. Uber, on the other hand, decided to provide discounts and emphasize the fact their drivers were still on the road. Many of their customers were unhappy, and the #DeleteUber hashtag was started. The company lost thousands of customers and severely damaged their brand’s reputation. Whether you agree with Uber or not, they got themselves caught up in a fight they did not belong in.

5. Down Playing Product Fails

When something bad happens, own it. Customer trust is an extremely valuable, and fragile, asset. When Samsung phones started exploding, the company tried to sweep everything under the rug. Instead of immediately recalling their phones and sending out mass alerts, they created an unnoticeable tab on their website and waited days until posting on social media. They lost billions, damaged their brand’s reputation, and destroyed customers trust. As a result, their mobile division’s bottom line plummeted a jaw-dropping 96%

6. Not Being Transparent

Similar to #5, be as transparent as possible. As you have probably heard, Yahoo was recently involved in a public relations nightmare. The company was hacked twice, which comprised more than one billion accounts. Even though the company was aware of the hack since 2014, they only disclosed the security breach this past September — two months after agreeing to sell to Verizon for 4.8 billion. Obviously, their customer trust was broken, and their entire reputation was questioned. Moral of these business mistakes, be as honest and transparent as possible.

Advertisements

7. Overly Edited Photos

There is a fine line between cleaning up a photo and overly editing it. Especially with today’s body positive movement, companies that project unrealistic beauty standards face the negative backlash. Victoria’s Secret is a habitual offender, by promoting images like these. This creates a disconnect with their customer base and allows competitors to capitalize on their mistakes. Aerie has taken the opposite route, by emphasizing body positivity and unedited photos — an initiative that has been well received by their customer base.

8. Insensitivity

When your company acknowledges tragic events, make sure your efforts are tasteful and thoughtful. When the beloved singer Prince passed, Cheerios decided to pay their respects by posting a photo of “Rest in Peace” behind a purple background, with the hashtag #Prince. This seems innocent enough, but they decided to dot their “i” with a cheerio. This gave the impression they were capitalizing off the singer’s death, and their customers were not happy.

9. Political Ignorance

When you’re creating an ad for a specific region, make sure to do your homework. Unfortunately for Coca-Cola, their 2016 New Year’s greeting backfired, when they managed to offend both Russians and Ukrainians. They shared a festive map of Russia on a Russian social media site, excluding the region of Crimea — an area of Ukraine-Russia annexed in 2014. Russian patriots were immediately angered by the image and posted pictures pouring the soft drink down the toilet, with the hashtag #BanCocaCola. In an attempt to remedy the situation, Coca-Cola deleted the original image and re-uploaded a version that included Crimea- only to upset their Ukrainian users. Soon after, Ukrainian customers started boycotting the brand. Even the Ukrainian embassy chimed in, stating their disapproval of the ad.

10. Incorrect International Translations

Before you enter a foreign market, the least you could do is translate your messages properly. Your customers want to feel appreciated and understood, so it is probably a good idea to ensure your international translations are on par. Unfortunately, there are countless examples to choose from. But, my personal favourite boils down to two: the American Dairy Association, and Coors. The American Dairy Association’s milk campaign was soured when they entered Spain. As it turned out, the American Dairy Association’s “Got Milk” slogan literally translated to “Are you lactating?”— probably not the message they were trying to get across. Even worse, Coors lights “turn it loose” campaign translated to “Suffer from diarrhea”.
Skip the whole “learn from your mistakes” thing, and instead learn from theirs. Save yourself the embarrassment and damaging consequences, and use this as an example of business mistakes to avoid!
Want more tips on how not to fail? Click here to learn from the experts.

Build A Worse Product: Ignore Customer Feedback, Change Your Focus, And Be More Useful

Building a Worse Product to Improve Sales

As any growing business,  we at Signority are constantly looking for ways to become a more efficient business. In a recent chat with our friend, Pascal Laliberté, a Jobs-to-be-Done consultant, we explored ways for businesses to improve sales through understanding the job their clients need. He was gracious enough to write a post for us to help you understand the traps of a good UX, the importance of understanding your users’ needs, and how to build a worse product to improve sales.

— Slick product you got there.

— Thanks bud! We’ve worked hard on it. We owe it to the UX designer and the development team. They gave it all they had.
— Very cool. Are you getting a lot of traction? People using it?
— Not enough, actually. We’re trying to get more sales.
— Don’t we all!
— It’s confusing, though. We’ve got a great product, the people that sign up have good things to say, we listen to their feedback. But it’s just not selling enough. We’re trying different marketing approaches, growth hacking, stuff like that.
— Good call. Hope it works out.


You’ve heard that situation before: good product, great UX (User Experience), good feedback from your users, good story. But it’s not selling. You’ve tried lowering the price, being competitive, matching your competitor’s features.
Drop in the bucket.
With all your efforts, you’ve fallen into…

THE TRAP OF THE GOOD UX

It’s a trap that goes like this: you find a good market opportunity and you have a go at it. You build a good UX (User Experience) in the hopes of attracting people, removing usability barriers in the sign-up process and in key areas of your product. Despite all that, no sales! How come?


In her book Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra teaches us something about what makes a person want to tell the world about the product they just used. You have to make her feel awesome. Not that she used an awesome product. That she feels like she is awesome. She learned something, she feels at the top of her game for using it, she found something amazing about herself while using the product. She wants to tell the world about it. She feels totally Badass and she can tell others how they too can become Badass by using the product.


In the history of electronics, the vacuum tube had a good run. This technology powered floor-standing TV sets, tabletop radios, and industrial-grade electronics sold to big corporations. The manufacturing process and distribution chains were well established. Good business.
When the transistor came out of AT&T’s Bell Laboratories in 1947, it wasn’t a threat to the vacuum tube business just yet. Transistors couldn’t handle the power needs of the devices which used vacuum tubes, and the race was on to find a way to get transistors to handle those power demands. Companies like RCA poured hundreds of millions of dollars into R&D to solve that tricky technical problem.
When Sony came out with the portable radio, people thought it was going to be a dud. Compared to the tabletop radios, the sound and the reception were awful. It was a worse product. However, Sony could manufacture it cheaply and sell a ton of them. Teenagers loved them. For a few bucks, they could listen to the music they liked, on the go. Done deal.
Sony used the low-powered — but rugged — transistor to build those radios. They became good at manufacturing these transistors, used the money from the sale of the portable radios to fund the development of the next transistors, and the rest is history.


Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen was the guy from whom I heard the portable radio story. He’s been interested in understanding how big innovative companies fall, and how small companies can eat into the big company’s markets.
A theory emerged from his research. He called it the Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory, and it serves to shed light on the causal factors for a person to go out and buy a product. Causality in Marketing? Tall order!
In short, it says that people don’t buy products, they hire a product for a job. The distinction is subtle, but it’s key to understanding the situation that caused the person to seek a solution. A job is a precise and detailed piece of a puzzle.
For example, Frank didn’t buy a business book, he hired a business book to help him advance in his career. Kelly hired a night out at the restaurant so she can connect with her husband. John hired the project communication software so he could change the work culture away from meetings and interruptions and towards tackling deep meaningful hard problems without interruptions.
You see how the job is the core of the reason why people make a switch toward your product?
So understand the job well, and you’ll be able to sell your product in a predictable way (and for a good price too, because you’ll know what problem it’s solving).
Understand the job really well, and you’ll be able to make your buyers feel awesome (like in the Badass book.)
However, if your product addresses the job of the buyer in a lukewarm or diluted way — diluted, say, by many extra features the user doesn’t need — you’ll create anxiety in the buyer’s mind.
“I don’t need these features.” “I don’t think I’m smart enough to use all these extra things.” “All I want is to do this one thing.”

Your UX might be great, but if you don’t address the job of the buyer, you won’t have a sale. You need to create a worse product.

So consider these two options:
Option 1: Create a beautiful product that answers what your buyers tell you they want.
Option 2: Create a product that addresses the job of your buyer perfectly, but it’s a “worse product”.
Which one of these two options will help you sell more, do you think? Which option will give you a product that is more deeply useful, and which will make the user feel Badass? Option 2.
That’s why I propose you build a worse product, ignore customer feedback and change your focus to address the precise job of your buyer. You’ll then have a good bet at building a more useful product that’ll sell more.
To find the job for which some of your customers have bought your product, consider this course on how to conduct Jobs-To-Be-Done Interviews, offered by the Re-Wired Group. Interview 10 people and you’ll have a good sense of the job.
And to learn more about Jobs-To-Be-Done, I recommend the book Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen. The audiobook version from Audible is very good. Hope this helps.


About the Author

Pascal Laliberté is a Jobs-To-Be-Done Consultant, Interaction Designer and Web Developer in Ottawa, Ontario. You can also read his other articles on Medium.com.

HR Best Practices: How to Optimize HR Onboarding Capabilities

HR Onboarding Capabilities Reassessment

Your HR department manages your company’s most valuable asset, its employees. Not knowing how to optimize HR onboarding process impacts every aspect of the organization, and directly hinders organizational success.
If you think deprioritizing HR is saving your company unneeded expenses, think again.
By not fully optimizing your HR’s capabilities, your company is actually losing money. HR facilitates strategic and organizational goals and is critical to employee retention and employee productivity. The average senior manager wastes a surprising amount of time managing underperforming employees— seven weeks a year, or over an hour each day, to be exact.
Don’t make the same mistake by reassessing, and improving your current HR onboarding capabilities.  
So, how do you improve your HR capabilities so that it remains an influential, high-value function within the company?  

1. Recruitment & Selection

Recruitment and selection are one of the most important functions of your HR department. Your company can only go as far as your employees can carry it— unsuccessful employees, unsuccessful business. Unfortunately, almost half of hiring managers admit to underestimating the hiring processes difficulty— even worse, over 80% of managers say their company has made hiring mistakes.
With that in mind, hiring the wrong person is super expensive. The unfit employee decreases overall company reputation and employee productivity and moral— which negatively impacts the work culture. In fact, over 53% of business owners agreed a bad hire increased stress levels amongst the rest of the team. Moreover, bad hiring decisions comprise 80% of employee turnover, and can cost upwards of 50% of their yearly salary!
Before you can hire promising individuals, you must first attract a large pool of qualified applicants. To do so, focus on improving your corporate image and use relevant channels. You should conduct an internal audit of the company’s current knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes (KSAO’s). Through this, you can see what characteristics are needed for job success and if there are any gaps in your current labour pool. According to a recent study, the top reasons for poor hiring decisions were poor skills match and unclear performance objectives. As such, your job descriptions should be specific and in-depth, with direct reference to employee expectations and the needed KSAO’s. During the screening process, you should conduct relevant skill tests and may want to undergo realistic job previews. Make a personal connection, and pay attention to their personality and values— even the most qualified applicant on paper may not mesh well with other employees or the workplace culture.

2. HR Onboarding

A good HR onboarding strategy is extremely important. It’s your company’s first impression to your new hire. Their onboarding experience sets the tone and influences the way they perceive the company. In fact, a recent study found that new hires decide whether to stay with the company long-term within their first 6 months of being hired. Positive onboarding directly affects your ability to retain talent, and your turnover rate — this can increase employee performance by over 10%!
The first step in successful onboarding? Begin even before their first day. In fact, over 80% of leading organizations follow this rule. Even more, 50% have senior leaders take an active role in the process. These organizations are also twice as likely to use metrics, with the most valuable being: employee engagement, retention and productivity. Moreover, when your onboarding practices are structured, employees are 66% more likely to stick around. You should also explicitly state your expectations of their employment, and socialize the new hires as much as you can. According to another study, something as simple as throwing them a welcome lunch can motivate new hires to work harder, since they feel supported by their team and leaders and hold more positive views of the organization. To increase engagement and employee interest, you can make the onboarding process more interactive. Lastly, you should simplify the process as best you can. This will not only help the new hire, but it will also help you immensely. New employee onboarding comes with lots of paperwork and can be extremely tedious and overwhelming for both parties. By automating what you can, you can simplify the entire process, and alleviate some of the stress from both you and your new hire. Automating will also ensure the process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible, creating a long lasting positive impression.

3. Training & Development

Employees are one of your main assets, why not invest in them? Offering your employees training and development opportunities decreases turnover and human error, while increasing employee motivation, productivity and efficiency. Your employees will also better adapt to changes and have increased satisfaction. The benefits will come full circle!
Employees want the chance to learn and grow. You should ask them first what areas they want/need to develop their skills in, and what their long-term goals are. They have the first-hand experience on what skills are important, and which ones are currently lacking. Align the training with organizational goals, and with their unique learning styles (after all, the whole point is for them to learn!). Streamline the training across departments and be sure to measure the results and outcomes so you know what to improve in the future.

4. Employee Relations

HR onboarding plays a key role in bringing employees together. Good internal employee relations decreases absenteeism and conflicts while increasing employee loyalty, morale and motivation. To strengthen your organization’s employee relations, first, focus on direct communication. Encourage employee engagement and take on a leadership role. Lead by example and bring everyone to an organizational consensus. Direct communication allows for everyone to be on the same page, and reduces the probability of harmful rumours. Keep employees well informed and up to date on important issues, such as policy changes. Create a positive and supportive culture by treating all employees equally and promoting employee participating in extracurricular activities (like team building exercises!).

5. Performance Appraisals

Performance appraisals are extremely important, even more so with today’s new age workforce. Appraisal help to align employees goals with the organizations, provide insight into the effectiveness of recruiting practices, help assess training and development needs, and improve employee productivity. This feedback should be given frequently, possibly even every day. Through this, managers will become more comfortable giving feedback, employees will feel more appreciated and supported, and problems can be stopped before they escalate. You should strive to create a positive and rewarding experience, by having a two-way conversation (not a lecture)— your employees want to feel heard and involved in the process! Once again, a performance review is a perfect opportunity for you to further explain your expectations on their performance and set clear goals.
There is no substitute for HR. Start improving your HR onboarding capabilities today and avoid many negative long-term effects.

Digital Strategy: Key Questions Insurance Industry Should Consider Before Going Digital (Part 3)

Digital strategy for going digital

If you’ve been following the series you should have some solid background information on why you should go digital, but how do you leverage this to make a successful digital strategy?
Currently, almost half of insurers have no single cohesive digital strategy— today we’re going to try and change this. But, we’re going to do much more than talk. We’re going to put your knowledge to the test, and help guide you on how to make your own successful digital strategy.
In this third instalment, we’ll gauge your overall digital readiness and answer some key questions that should be considered before you implement your strategy.

Digital Strategy Maturity Model

Before making your digital strategy, you should have a clear understanding of your current position. This will help you make better more informed decisions, and give you a strong grasp on your digital readiness— so you can develop a successful strategy long-term.
EY, a global leader in consulting and advisory services, distinguished 4 key elements you should assess:

  1. Corporate strategy
  2. Customer strategy
  3. Enabling capabilities
  4. Digital roadmap

To grow from a digitally stunted strategy to digitally mature, these four parts need to be aligned, and optimized. Currently, American insurers have a high degree of variance with their overall digital maturity, and with their digital strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, in our recent post I explained each segment in detail and discussed why they’re crucial for your strategy’s success.
Want to know how digitally mature your company is? Well, we brought this model to life and created an interactive digital readiness scorecard! Check it out and see where you line up. Added bonus: we’ll also throw in some tips and tricks to help push you further along in your digital maturity!

Before Going Digital: What’s Your Plan?

EY also recently asked insurance firms some thought provoking questions:  

  1. Ambition: Where do you want to be on the Digital Maturity Model? Do you have a clear view of what “digital” aims to achieve?
  2. Priorities: Do you know which customers, products, channels and customer trigger points require digital attention- and which do not? What are your competitors doing in this space?

Know Your Digital Strategy Plan

A full digital transformation requires full dedication and determination. Everyone must be onboard and ready to give their all. But before you can get everyone on the same page, you need to outline your long-term objectives and goals.
You should have a clear vision of where on the digital maturity model you want to be long-term. There is a wide range of possibilities, as you can focus on the model as a whole or on individual segments separately. Whatever end goal you choose, it should be closely tied with all your other strategies and support overall business aspirations.
Understanding where you lie on the digital readiness scorecard is crucial. You should not only have a general knowledge of how digitally ready your business is, but you should also be keenly aware of how you perform in each individual element. By knowing where you are and where you want to be, you can better understand what digital aims to achieve in order to reach your end goal.
You should focus your initial attention towards the fundamentals of your business. Look at your current brand equity, competitive position and brand performance. It may also be a good idea to conduct an internal SWOT analysis of your company. Through this, you can better see where you need to improve and set concrete objectives. After this, you can set a definitive digital vision. Outline your strategies to achieve your defined objectives and any dependencies, obstacles or risks that may occur. Additionally, you should create a firm and detailed budget. In doing so, you can divide up all the responsibilities to the needed people, increasing individual accountability. You should communicate your strategy and ambition to your staff, partners and customers to manage expectations and improve employee cohesiveness.

Know Your Priorities

During the transition, things may become pretty hectic. Before this happens, it’s important that you know exactly what objectives to tackle first. The success of your digital transformation almost entirely hinges on your ability to set objectives and follow through. Some objectives to consider include:

  1. Customer

According to EY, the biggest drivers of digital strategies are improving customer experience, building long-term customer relationships and regaining more control over these relationships. In order to do so, you need to have a deep understanding of your customer base. You should clearly outline your intended target audience and understand their needs, behaviours, values and expectations.
You should also have a firm grasp on your customers’ trigger points, as they can show opportunities in your customer’s buying process. You can start by identifying a buyer persona, and deeply know their buying habits and their decision process. Through this, you can understand what motivates them to purchase and create targeted messages and content for that trigger. Even better, you can work to create the trigger yourself. Moreover, these triggers should be ingrained into your overall marketing strategy. The right message should be delivered to the right person, at the right time. This can help insurers accurately predict their sales forecasts, and better help them in attracting new customers.

  1. Product & Service

You can use the power of digital to test the efficiency of any and all of your products and services. Through this, you can better see what’s doing well, and what needs some improvement. This insight will also help you in creating any new products and services, as you know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Channel

First, you should outline the breadth and depth of your envisioned channels and know how much resources will be needed to keep them updated and maintained. It’s extremely crucial to not over-estimate your resources at this stage, as you do not want to be in a situation where certain channels are neglected, or your overall communication effectiveness is hindered. The specific channels you choose depends on the content you want to share. Each channel has a different atmosphere, purpose and set of social norms. In essence, users connect with every channel differently. For example, LinkedIn may be a more suitable channel to target B2B customers than Facebook. You should evaluate all of your channel options, and select the one most appropriate and fitting towards your intended target audience and overall objectives. In the beginning, you may need to experiment with a couple of different channels until you find the one that works the best for you. Moreover, all of your channels should be integrated with each other. Customers expect to have the same experience with your brand regardless of the channel, so consistency is key.
Along the same lines, you should probably prioritize a mobile strategy. A whopping 65% of purchase journeys start on a smartphone, and by 2020 four out of five people will own a mobile phone. Currently, less than one-third of insurers have a distinct mobile strategy— meaning there is a huge opportunity waiting for you!

Know Your Competition

You should be aware of what your competitors are doing with their digital strategy, and how well it’s being executed. This can work as a baseline for you to gauge industry activity and may uncover some initiatives you should be participating in. Moreover, this can determine areas of opportunity, and points of potential differentiation.

A good digital strategy is one that can adapt to industry changes, and that is aligned with your overall business objectives.
The first step: calculate your digital readiness. Last step? Sit back and watch your business skyrocket.
Miss Part 2? Learn more about why analytics are fundamental to your strategy, and how to optimize their use from our previous post in the series!  
Looking to go digital? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.