These days, everyone expects you to sign on the dotted line. For the average South African consumer, the tedious process of signing and initialling contracts, or even signing in to any place they want to access, has become a chore. From security registers at offices around the country, to proof of delivery dockets when accepting online purchases, and everything in between, asking for our signature has become standard business practice. So much so, that Government has introduced a Bill to regulate the protection of the personal information companies keep, the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Bill.

Virgin Active South Africa has therefore decided to make the lives of its members easier, while ensuring POPI compliance, by investing in electronic signature pads. Recently deployed in all of its clubs countrywide, the signature pads are currently used for signing up new members.

Andre Mostert, Head of IT at Virgin Active, explains that the efficiencies the digital signature solution brought to the business – and to members – was the primary motivation for the company to embark on a project that has seen approximately 300 ePad-vision electronic signature pads installed at clubs nationwide.

“We wanted to bring everything into a digital format, and cut down on printing and paper. When we looked at the costs of month-to-month contracts for the maintenance of printers, and the costs of storing and scanning documents, we decided that using the electronic signature pad solution in-house was more cost effective.

“POPI was also a driving force because we are aware of our responsibility to ensure the protection of the personal information of our customers – from capture to deletion.”

Following a tender process, the IT team at Virgin Active SA narrowed their options down to a few units, and had Head Office staff try all units. The ePad Vision was ultimately chosen as a result of its overwhelming popularity.

“This was the unit all of the staff liked the most. It was extremely feature rich and has a nice profile on the desk,” Mostert says.

He explains that this solution makes managing the documentation process much more straightforward, and offers many other benefits, not least of which is simplifying the signup process for members. Virgin Active’s Christopher Parker adds that the ePad-vision units’ ability to guide members through the contract has helped ensure that all of the appropriate places in the contract are initialled and signed by customers, making the process quicker and easier.

“The Vision signature pad’s large, full-colour LCD screen was one of the reasons we chose these units, as its interactive display allows users to respond to on-screen prompts and also gives us the option to display marketing messages and our branding. It also looks much better than a paper form! In addition, it offers better quality rendering of the documents than a scanned version, so the customer gets a more legible copy,” he says.

Paul Wright, founder of Datafinity, local distributor of the ePad-Vision signature pads, says that these units are the perfect customer-facing tool, and that Virgin Active will quickly see the benefits. “Things like substantial cost savings, reduced processing times, and improved customer satisfaction are only the starting point for the advantages the Vision offers.

“Because it is fully customisable, Virgin Active will be able to talk directly to members with messages like promotional offers and invitations to enrol in special programs – even dates and times of specialised classes. It makes the signup and sign in process more meaningful and easier for the club and the customers.”