• 100%

    customer and colleague satisfaction rate for virtual sign-ups
  • 90%

    Reduction in organisational travel
  • 1,800

    hours saved on mutual exchanges

Stonewater is a UK social housing provider, with a goal to deliver good quality, affordable homes to people who need them most. Founded in 2015, the organisation has 33,600 homes, over 75,000 customers and is a thought leader in the UK housing sector. It is using innovative technology, such as DocuSign eSignature and eWitness, to help deliver on its digital transformation objectives.

In 2020, the global pandemic meant Stonewater’s paper-based processes to execute contracts were impractical and not Covid-secure. To enable Stonewater to continue to house customers when a safe and secure home was more important than ever, the company needed a solution that could help them house people virtually.

A streamlined process to replace slow and complex workflows

Stonewater homes are affordable properties for general rent, shared ownership, and sale as specialist accommodation for retirement and supported living schemes for older and vulnerable people. Before implementing DocuSign eSignature, the organisation relied on email, printing and post to get agreements completed and signed. All paperwork had to go through a centralised administrative team and was forwarded to colleagues before being sent to customers. Three departments were involved in a typical signing workflow; manually producing customer documentation, capturing customer details and signature, and securely storing the signed contracts. The number of touchpoints was inefficient and involved huge amounts of paperwork, time and resources.

Implementing DocuSign eSignature during the pandemic ensured that Stonewater was able to continue to let homes to customers whilst also keeping colleagues and customers safe with non-face-to-face tenancy sign-ups. It enabled Stonewater to continue its digital journey; improving customer service and experience, and reducing its reliance on traditional paper documents sent through the post.

Using an industry leader for fast and effective rollout

McKinsey research suggested that within a few months the pandemic accelerated the digitisation of business operations by up to seven years*. For Stonewater, who was already using eSignature for IT asset allocation and had plans to roll-out electronic signing across the business - the pandemic forced an acceleration of its planned digital transformation, including eSignature.

Stonewater chose DocuSign eSignature as its preferred e-signature tool because it fulfills the business use criteria in terms of working across multiple industries and applications  and because of the positive existing relationship between Stonewater and DocuSign. This relationship developed as Project Manager Julian Vassell, alongside Stonewater’s Change Manager, Rebekah Terrell and the project team worked closely with the DocuSign team to roll-out eSignature into the evolving digital sign-up process for customers.

“The initial transition to DocuSign took approximately three weeks with the support of DocuSign stakeholders. This included the design, testing and deployment of the initial solution,” Julian said.

Stonewater colleagues were extremely engaged and supportive of the solution, recognising the need to complete property sign-ups safely and quickly.

With no arduous training required to use it, employees are enjoying the benefits of the solution’s intuitive user interface
Julian Vassell
Project Manager
Stonewater

The DocuSign team supported Stonewater by facilitating kick-off and discovery sessions and ensuring the end-solution was delivered successfully; additionally delivering a training course to upskill Stonewater’s team in administering eSignature, as well as providing access to the DocuSign university resource.

Electronic signatures enable Stonewater to do business better

DocuSign eSignature is being used in multiple departments, serving an array of needs across the business for both internal and external processes. The benefits include a faster end-to-end service to customers and more streamlined and auditable workflow.

The Finance department is using eSignature for inter-company payments and letters of engagement. This has reduced the amount of manual intervention of printing, scanning and return of documents to external and internal customers.

Electronic signing is allowing Stonewater to progress with “virtual sign-ups” as tenancy documents are being sent and signed electronically, with viewing and key acceptance for customers being completed with remote assistance from colleagues via phones/photos and key safes. Copies of signed tenancies and ancillary documents are received by all parties involved.

DocuSign eWitness is also being used within the mutual exchange process for deeds of assignments where a witness signature is required. Additional information is gathered through DocuSign in relation to who the witness is rather than just a signature and name.

Additionally, eSignature has been introduced to Stonewater’s Board for governance purposes. DocuSign supports the Board to remain effective when they cannot be present in the same room.

Achieving new goals through digital transformation

The implementation of eSignature enabled Stonewater to continue to serve customers through the pandemic, helping Stonewater to home 1,700 families remotely. As well as addressing that urgent need, eSignature is helping to reduce the organisation’s environmental impact in terms of paper, printing and post, supporting Stonewater in its quest to achieve Gold in Shift (the sustainability standard for the Housing sector).

With DocuSign, Stonewater is saving time, money and resources while delivering exceptional customer service through a quick and seamless process. A customer satisfaction survey was completed after phase one of the rollout to tenants and showed 100% satisfaction with the product and process. By reducing personal travel needs of colleagues, eSignature contributed to a 90% reduction in organisational travel.

So far this year, DocuSign has reduced time spent on sign-ups and mutual exchanges by more than 1,800 hours, cut down on travel hours by a further 1,800 hours and mileage by an impressive 107,400 miles. It has also delivered an automated solution for anti-social behaviour processes. Working with Resolution and Neighbourhood colleagues, the DocuSign project team have created seven new templates relating to ASB, completing a virtual overhaul of a previously far less streamlined service.

The benefits have been backed-up by customer comments on UK open review site, TrustPilot including:

“So much easier than I thought. I feel it works very well as it’s less time consuming but just as effective.”

eSignature is part of a larger digital transformation programme

Stonewater has been working on a robust digital transformation agenda for years. Digital transformation is an organisational objective and Stonewater is excited to be at the forefront of digital delivery in the housing sector. Together DocuSign and Stonewater are continuing to work together to improve digital solutions across the business and to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Over the next year, DocuSign eSignature will be further used to enhance tenancy agreements with automated generation, with customers signing digital sign-ups on tablet devices and assisting the “Sign and Seal” process for Stonewater’s Governance and Development Teams.