As the customer journey becomes more complex, entailing a growing number of touchpoints on the path to purchase, could identity management play a crucial role in ensuring that the customer experience is a seamless and satisfying one?
Until recently, identity management was principally associated with security – ensuring that businesses mitigate security threats by giving customers and employees access to the right resources at the right times for the right reasons.
So why is it starting to become a consideration for CX strategies?
“What’s new is the multiplicity of connected devices that contribute to the digital mesh that underpins today’s businesses; and the high digital expectations of both customers and employees,” explains Chris Gray, technical director at Amido.
“For example, customers expect to be able to use multiple devices - their tablet, smartphone, PC or even a gaming console - to shop or connect with your business. They also want to communicate with you through email, text, voice, video, social media and the web; and log into their apps and accounts via multiple channels, including social media identities.”
ForgeRock and MyCustomer.com recently conducted a study of 1,000 UK consumers, asking them about their multichannel experiences, and where they were experiencing friction.
The survey results demonstrated that difficulties are most common when digital services are being used across multiple devices – a serious problem given the proclivity of today’s customers to use several digital devices during interactions.
The top four issues, experienced by respondents, when using multiple devices, were:
- 48 % = Multiple logins (having to login again when switching device).
- 30% = Lost details (other devices lacking customer details already provided).
- 27% = Reset password (having to reset password on other devices).
- 22% = Lost preferences (other devices lacking user preferences already set).
The research also revealed the concerning consequences of poor online experiences. While the most likely reaction to problems (42%) is to take no action (British stoicism creeping in there, perhaps), 34% of consumers said they ended up ‘giving up’ what they were trying to do – and almost a quarter (24%) said they decided to switch to another provider instead.
Furthermore, the study also demonstrated that customer trust was highest amongst customers who had the least friction in their interactions with providers.
Clearly, the ability for organisations to provide a single profile across multiple devices and accounts would dramatically reduce omnichannel friction, reducing the need for multiple log-ins, making it easier to recall passwords and having consistent preferences. It is therefore easy to see the appeal of identity management solutions, working across multiple systems and controlling user access.
Gray notes: “Ensuring employees and customers can access applications and data from multiple devices and locations, without compromising security, is a cornerstone of digital transformation.
“To retain customers in a digital world, multichannel customer recognition is essential if you want to provide a frictionless and relevant online and offline experience. Identity is central to this because it gives you a single customer view.”
A further benefit of identity management, is that the process of creating a single customer view also provides the organisation with unrivalled insight into their customer’s behaviour. This means you can segment them, and target and optimise offers for specific customers in their preferred channels.
Richard Lack, managing director EMEA at Gigya, explains: “Right now, your customer profiles may be fragmented. When you store and manage individual sets of customer data in different CRM, CMS, DMP or other solutions, your customers’ identities end up scattered throughout your stack, preventing you from building consistent user profiles. In this case, you simply cannot engage customers across channels in the consistent and relevant manner that they expect, or ensure that they give consent for what data is collected and have control of how it is used.
“An end-to-end customer identity platform unifies disparate marketing systems by acting as the single source of truth for customer identity ‒ enabling more accurate and complete user profiles that can be built and managed over time.”
Internet of Things
With emerging technologies such as wearable computers and Internet of Things devices all entering the mix, extremely rich user profiles can be developed that will support sophisticated personalization.
Gray continues: “It’s great for businesses because all of these connected devices continually generate valuable data that tells you all about your customers’ demographics, preferences, dislikes and behaviour. They give you a detailed picture of their identity.
“Consequently, identity is emerging as the cornerstone of digital transformation. Without having it at the core, your business misses out on the ability to understand and serve your customers well, or get the best from your customer relationships.”
And according to Gray, the issue of identity has become so important that 91% of IT managers now consider identity management as a key enabler for digital business initiatives - almost half seeing it as critical.
Lack concludes: “The potential to power a truly omnichannel customer experience relies on marketers’ ability to recognise and engage each customer in a consistent way across their entire journey. Doing that requires the right approach to customer identity.”
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 20 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined MyCustomer in 2007.