What are electronic delivery services?
In short, electronic delivery services are services that allow you to communicate effectively with your customers or users, digitally, multichannel, and with greater assurance of delivery than traditional notification and messaging methods.
Technical definitions aside, these are systems that we are all now very familiar with.
Any concrete examples?
- Order confirmation notifications: to confirm that an order has been received and will be processed. They are typically sent by email.
- Payment notifications: to inform customers that a payment has been received and will be processed correctly.
- Tracking notifications: to inform customers about the status of a shipment: via email, but also text messages or dedicated apps.
- Security notifications: regarding any scheduled security or maintenance issues that might affect their services.
- Expiration notifications: with alerts regarding different verses, such as the payment of an invoice or the expiration of a contract.
- Automatic renewal notifications: to inform customers that a subscription or contract is about to be automatically renewed and to ask them to confirm or cancel the renewal.
- Notifications of document filings in restricted areas: a sensitive point, because it involves issues of reliability and security; we will return to this later in the post.
Warning. Of course, these are just a few examples selected from a much larger set (think, for example, of the different types of reminders).
But there is one decisive point on which we want to focus your attention: electronic delivery services have a decisive impact on Customer Experience, offering the possibility of efficiently conveying communications for which you want certainty of delivery, as in the cases listed above. Today, Customer Experience plays a more central role than ever in the market; competitive challenges are won or lost from this very field.
This is what we will focus on in the next section.
The importance of electronic delivery services for improving the customer experience
Customer Experience is increasingly central: what confirms this statement?
For one thing, our own experiences tell us this. So does this data:
- For 90% of Americans, the quality of customer service is one of the deciding factors in choosing to purchase products, services, or subscriptions with a company (Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Global State of Customer Care).
- 89% of customers are more likely to make another purchase with the same company after a satisfactory customer service experience (Salesforce – State of the Connected Customer).
- An even higher percentage of consumers, as high as 93%, are inclined to make repeat purchases with companies that provide excellent customer service (hubspot.com)
- In contrast, 50% of people are ready to turn to another brand after just one bad experience with a company. After more than one bad experience, those who decide to turn to a competitor soars to 80% (Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020).
We could go on and on, but let’s conclude with one last, well-known fact from Bain & Company:
- For a company, it costs 6 to 7 times more to win a new customer than to retain one. A 5% improvement in Customer Retention can produce up to 25% more profit (bain.com).
So, the goal of any investment in Customer Experience is retention and advocacy.
But what is the starting point?
Very simple: the care and improvement of communication between company and customer. This is a foregone conclusion, one that has always been valid, and one that we hear repeated very often.
However, there is one key word that we think is essential to highlight: proximity.
This also ties in with Digital Transformation.
Today, the digital tools available to companies allow them to establish an increasingly close relationship with their target audience. And not just with the general audience but with every single person who constitutes its target audience.
In short, we start with the enormous availability of data offered by digital systems and arrive at a new dialog with individual customers; a dialog that is increasingly tailored.
This, operationally, is what we mean by the new centrality of the customer.
Electronic delivery services sit right in this groove.
That’s because they represent a useful tool for both the customer and the companies. On the one hand, they offer communication certainty, transparency, and assurance.
On the other hand, they represent touchpoints that can turn into additional opportunities for communication and also for cross-selling and upselling operations that are designed intelligently and in a non-invasive manner, depending, of course, on the content of the communication.
In conclusion, there is a delicate side to which we want to tighten our focus: it concerns the security and reliability of electronic delivery services. And this is where the issues of ERDS and QERDS come into play.
ERDS and QERDS – definitions, differences, and framework in the eIDAS regulation
Electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services (eIDAS) is the European Regulation 910/2014 that deals with electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market.
It provides a common regulatory basis for secure and transparent electronic interactions between citizens, businesses, and public administrations in the European Union.
(The full text can be viewed here, although remember that the standard is being updated and the new version is expected in the coming months of 2023.)
Electronic Registered Delivery Services (ERDS) and Qualified Electronic Registered Delivery Services (QERDS) were introduced within the eIDAS regulation.
Watch out for the acronyms!
Of course, the two systems are similar, but there are crucial differences between them that are important to highlight
In this regard, the eIDAS articles of interest to us are 43 and 44, which we quote below in full:
- Article 43: Legal effects of a certified electronic delivery service
- Data sent and received by means of a certified electronic delivery service shall not be denied legal effects and admissibility as evidence in judicial proceedings merely because of their electronic form or because they do not meet the requirements of the qualified certified electronic delivery service.
- Data sent and received by qualified certified electronic delivery service shall enjoy the presumption of data integrity, the sending of such data by the identified sender, its receipt by the identified recipient, and the accuracy of the date and time of sending and receipt indicated by the qualified certified electronic delivery service.
- Article 44: Requirements for qualified certified electronic delivery services
- Qualified certified electronic delivery services shall meet the following requirements:
- are provided by one or more qualified trust service providers;
- guarantee the identification of the sender with a high level of security;
- guarantee the identification of the recipient before the transmission of data;
- the sending and receiving of the data are secured by an advanced electronic signature or advanced electronic seal of a qualified trust service provider so as to exclude the possibility of undetectable changes to the data;
- any changes to the data necessary in order to send or receive it are clearly indicated to the sender and recipient of the data;
- the date and time of sending and receiving and any change to the data are indicated by a qualified electronic time stamp.
Where data is transferred between two or more qualified trust service providers, the requirements in (a) to (f) shall apply to all qualified trust service providers. […] (Source: Official Journal of the European Union)
So, what are the differences between ERDS and QERDS?
ERDS makes it possible for data to be transmitted between third parties electronically. It creates and makes available evidence, such as in the form of documentary evidence, regarding the processing of the transmitted data, including evidence that the data has been sent and received. It protects the transmitted data from the risk of loss, theft damage, or unauthorized modification. (Article 3 of the eIDAS Regulation).
What an ERDS cannot guarantee, above all, is the identification of the sender and recipient in the stages prior to data transmission.
A Qualified Electronic Registered Delivery Service (QERDS), on the other hand, must be able to allow identification of sender and recipient, in addition to other additional elements listed above, namely:
- the affixing of a qualified time validation;
- be provided by one or more qualified trust service providers.
In the context of the European Union, ERDS and QERDS systems are now widespread, at all levels. Italy, in this sense, is an anomaly.
Currently, in Italy we only have PEC, which can be considered similar to certified electronic delivery services (with the difference, however, that PEC is not recognized in Europe) but it is not a Qualified Electronic Registered Delivery Services (QERDS).
Our legislation, however, already allows the use of QERDS services: in other words, it’s only a matter of time before they reach us here.
Preparing for this in advance, then, can be an important competitive advantage.
For all the insights on ERDS and QERDS, see this post from our blog.
In conclusion: digitization is truly mature when the vision is holistic and integrated. Electronic delivery services, then, are one piece of a larger mosaic where the relationship between company and customers is redesigned.