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The importance of creating secure customer journeys

Many people see identity management as a purely security-oriented function, but its role in engagement and customer satisfaction is equally important. It can also offer a significant competitive advantage for brands competing for online customers by providing secure digital customer experiences.

The rapid growth in digital channels and the need to offer exceptional digital customer experiences, according to McKinsey & Company, has raised the importance of providing secure customer journeys. The explosive growth in digital channels due to the pandemic has expanded the scope for cybercrime. Malicious players have greater opportunities to commit fraud and exploit vulnerabilities associated with consumer identity and access management control.

The digital customer not only expects greater security but also wants an easier digital experience, including fast authentication and log-in, as well as seamless web and mobile interactivity.

Your CIAM (Customer Identity and Access Management) system is vital to creating trust for your brand. The login form on your website, for example, can significantly impact user experience and conversion rates.    

The concept of CIAM is still relatively new. A CIAM platform allows you to enable fast, convenient, unified and secure access across digital channels. More than this, a CIAM platform allows you to use customer identity data as a means to better understand your customer, and tailor your products, services and individual customer engagements to them.

So, how does digital identity management work in the various stages of an online customer journey? 

The first touchpoint

Brand awareness is the very first touchpoint for most customers. They either visit a website landing page or arrive at a social media portal where they see your products and services for the first time. The interaction is mainly anonymous at this early stage, so the person’s digital identity hasn’t fully come into play. But there’s already generic web analytics being generated that may be useful at a later stage.     

Product consideration is typically the second phase of customer interaction. This phase of the journey often overlaps with the marketing funnel step of lead capture. Customers may be engaging with marketing assets, offers or news subscriptions. An identity management system doesn’t create a detailed picture of the customer at this point, but some basic data points such as an email address may be captured. There’s enough data already for the IAM solution to create an entry in a CRM platform like HubSpot or Salesforce, but not a full credential set as yet. There’s an opportunity to correlate these small data points with web analytics like page views and geolocation, though, so the IAM system is already preparing a preliminary profile of the customer, which can be fed into a complete customer profile at a later date.  

Converting the lead into a customer    

For the customer’s onboarding process to be as smooth and easy as possible, data already captured can be auto-filled into their registration form. An advanced cloud CIAM system can also capture user data progressively as they use more advanced features of your vendor platform.    

Passwordless login can take the process a step further by securely authenticating the customer without them needing to remember passwords.      

Another possibility for frictionless sign-on is social login. New customers can log in to their social media account, granting access to the relevant details and accelerating their sign-on process. This interaction can also feed important information to your CIAM system.   

It’s crucial that a customer needs only one sign-on interaction to use all your company’s services and that their interaction balances security and simplicity. A convenient Single Sign-On (SSO), combined with robust credential-based security, gives the customer a positive, personalised experience.

Secure engagement: friction vs safety   

For higher-risk interactions where security is particularly vital, a stronger authentication method, such as MFA (Multi-Factor-Authentication), may be required. Robust user authentication protects your online systems, helping to build a trustworthy public image and reassuring customers when they enter sensitive data like credit cards or phone numbers.    

Stronger authentication methods do inherently introduce friction, but a contemporary IAM solution will enable your organisation to overcome this and offer safe, secure services in the cloud. Compared to traditional firewalled perimeters, even the most robust cloud-based identity management presents a relatively friendly face to customers.

Digital identity provides a better service

The rich data capabilities enabled by modern identity management can predict customers’ future interests, so equipped with that understanding, you can deliver better-customised services. As an example, transport provider VIX, applied modern CIAM and data analysis principles as part of a cloud transformation project.

Vix can now look at passenger movement data and overlay information that may impact use, such as major sporting events, weather patterns and public holidays. This granular detail allows informed decision-making around the frequency and timing of transport options.   

Good customer service has always been a vital factor in any company’s success, and digital identity management is the key to providing that personalised service online.    

If you’re considering your digital transformation options, make sure that CIAM is a priority for your business. After all, your customers and the way they interact with your brand are the foundation of your success. 

Jacob Higgs

Principal Solution Architect Identity at Versent - During his time at Versent, Jacob has worked on a variety of Identity and Access Management delivery projects including a cross-section of projects within Australia, assisting with the delivery of complex solutions. Jacob has delivered solutions based on the industry’s leading product sets including Ping Identity, CA and Thycotic. These solutions have been provided across a range of Identity and Access disciplines, including Provisioning, Web Service Security, Privileged Access Management, Directory Services, Web Access Control and Federation. Prior to his role at Versent, Jacob was a Digital Security Consultant at Security Fusion.