Mobile customer experience hinges on embracing new authentication

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In a world where services like banking, payments and retail are at risk of becoming commoditized, customer experience management (CXM) offers a way in which organizations can differentiate the interactions they have with their customers to gain a competitive advantage.

Gartner defines CXM as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

In considering our own experiences as consumers, we can easily identify retail industry leaders in CXM, including Starbucks, Amazon and Apple, to name a few. These organizations have identified the secret sauce for exceeding their niche customers’ expectations. Regardless of the specific tactics each of these companies employs to reduce friction along the customer buying cycle, their efforts are all enabled and empowered by mobile technology.

Organizations of all types wishing to leverage the mobile channel to increase customer engagement should also think about creating a mobile CXM strategy that is backed by research and designed to exceed their target customers’ expectations by providing a safe, seamless and positive experience that fosters satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
Until recently, many of the fraud prevention tactics employed by organizations have added to, not reduced, customer friction across the buying cycle. There are probably few among us who have not been inconvenienced at the point of sale by a declined credit card transaction prompted by a suspicious transaction flag. Whether the customer responds to the request to confirm the transaction, or simply abandons it, the effect on the purchasing path is the same, a virtual brick wall springs up between what the consumer is trying to accomplish and how they can most easily accomplish it.

Such interruptions in the flow of digitally enabled transactions can enact the same deleterious effect, potentially even more so. Unparalleled ease and convenience that increases engagement is the primary value proposition of digital transactions, but one chink in the armor threatening the promise of a seamless experience can undo that unwritten covenant of convenience between company and consumer. For example, fraud mitigation tactics that interrupt the buying process by prompting the end user to meet additional verification challenges can cause transaction abandonment, as well as leave a lasting bad impression about the ease of doing business with you.

These clunky, outdated methods for identifying users and authenticating transactions mean that many organizations currently considering both fraud mitigation strategies and CXM strategies may initially view them as being at odds with one another. But, recent advances in biometric-ready hardware, digital device authentication technology and identity verification solutions that work invisibly can complement and unify both strategies.

One data point organizations can build into their own mobile CXM strategies includes the increasing consumer preference for ditching passwords in favor of fingerprint biometrics.

According to a survey from Gigya, 80% of respondents with an authentication preference believe "biometric options are safer than passwords." The survey also revealed that 68% of customers forgo creating accounts on websites with what they perceive to be "complex password requirements.”

Information security professionals have been predicting the demise of passwords for over a decade, and we now know customers are also frustrated with them, leading them to resort to poor password security practices, like overly simplistic passwords, password recycling and keeping a list of passwords on their hard drives.

The increasing ubiquity of built-in biometrics capabilities on mobile devices finally presents a viable replacement for passwords that also improves the end-user experience. As mobile adoption has increased, consumers have been embracing fingerprint biometrics as a way to reduce password fatigue, eliminate the headaches involved in dealing with stolen credentials, and to reduce friction along the transaction lifecycle.

However, biometrics alone are not the silver bullet for mobile transaction security. The biometric login by itself only proves that the enrolled user is attempting a transaction. Unfortunately, this login gives no insight into the relative security of device itself—in other words, the environment in which the biometric is operating.

Authenticating and securing the mobile device itself is yet another tool mobile-optimized businesses can use to shore up their CXM initiatives to streamline the transaction experience and, ultimately, improve the customer experience.

While biometrics fulfill the “something you are” component of multifactor authentication (MFA), to provide the strongest level of MFA possible, organizations should also add a “something you have” factor — and physical authentication of the device in which a biometric operates will do just that. Only when one can fully trust the device being used to conduct the transaction and confirm the user’s identity will the ultimate device security weapon against fraud—a trusted security token—be created.

The ability for organizations to reduce fraud losses (financial, as well as reputational) while simultaneously improving the consumer experience is a relatively new concept that deserves to be revisited with a fresh perspective.

We have approached a new era in digital-optimization where consumer experience and unprecedented security can exist in perfect harmony, perhaps for the first time ever. With a heightened degree of protection and security for mobile transactions, an organization can be confident that both the end user and the devices interacting with it are trustworthy, while still ensuring customers enjoy a frictionless, convenient experience.

In an age where service differentiation is becoming more difficult to implement, consumer protection that is not only built in to your CXM strategy, but is a cornerstone of it, can give you the competitive advantage you need to win over your competition.

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