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Customer identity management has a big impact on customer experience

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher May 29, 2017
Customer Identity and Access Management is a bulky phrase, but the problems it tackles are real. Digital identity management has a direct impact on customer experience - and many older CRM systems are not up for the job. Barb Mosher Zinck explains how CX and identity management connect, with insights from a chat with Jason Rose, VP marketing at Gigya.

I remember when the IT department implemented heavy duty customer identity management systems that every department across the company had to connect with to provide secure access to their applications and get a single view of the customer. These systems still exist today, and they still aren’t simple to implement.

But when you’re dealing with authenticating customer access across digital channels (and some non-digital), you’re likely using a different technology. It’s called a Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) solution, and there are a few of them on the market: Gigya, Janrain, Ping Identity. Even Salesforce and IBM offer CIAM capabilities, among others.

CIAM solutions provide secure access to company services and, with some solutions, enable customers to manage their profile and preferences information. With one in place that connects all their digital properties, an organization can ensure customer privacy and avoid fraud and malicious activities that could harm the company, and the customer.

CIAM solutions aren’t just about security though. They can help create a more personalized, contextual customer experience from beginning to end, and that’s something traditional SSO software doesn’t do.

A poor customer experience starts at the beginning

Forrester says that poor customer experience often comes from a poor CIAM experience. Things such as a clumsy registration, poorly communicated password policies and reset processes, and confusing enrollment terms all affect the customer experience from the starting gate. Get these wrong, and you’ll be getting calls – or not getting customers.

But that’s only the beginning. When you implement a CIAM solution across all your digital properties, you are connecting that customer’s information across the systems they use to interact with you. CIAM connects silos and provides a single view of the customer.

This was part of the conversation I had with Jason Rose, VP marketing at Gigya. Gigya’s approach to CIAM is one of “Connect, Collect and Convert.” They help organizations identify and track customers even before an account is created by capturing consumer data from comments, social logins, and content sharing. When a customer sets up an account, their prior profile data is connected.

Gigya evolves the customer profile through what they call “progressive identity.” Progressive identity builds the customer profile over time through the collection of behavioral data and third-party social data and using techniques like quizzes and questionnaires.

The “convert” aspect is the integration of marketing, service and support technology like CMS, CRM, marketing automation and ad servers. Integration provides these solutions with customer information they need to serve the customer better, whether that’s a personalized web experience, improved recommended content, an understanding of what activities or events led a customer to call the contact center (e.g. what they looked at on the website) or something else.

These capabilities are not unique to Gigya. When I looked at Janrain’s website, I saw similar capabilities which clearly demonstrates the value CIAM can bring to a seamless customer experience across the entire customer lifecycle.

Supporting the needs of privacy and better experiences

Improving customer experience has its challenges – privacy and fraud are two. How many people have had their identity hijacked through hackers getting profile data? How many people have had their information shared with third parties without their consent? It’s a reality that happens far too often. CIAM solutions can help here as well.

Privacy is a critical element of a good customer experience. Customers share their information with the expectation that you use it to improve their experience. It’s your job to ensure that profile data is secure and used appropriately. Customers also want the ability to manage their preferences, so they have more control over when and how you use the data they give you. You have to be transparent about what you are collecting and why, as well as how you are ensuring that data is secured from improper sharing or use, or malicious intent.

Rose filled me in on some key GDPR (European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation) rules that organizations must address even if they don’t reside in the EU. GDPR is bringing even more stringent privacy laws and protections for consumers, and it can greatly affect how your website collects and uses customer information. He explained that even if your company operates domestically in the US, you must comply with the upcoming GDPR rules. If someone from the EU can come to your website and creates a profile, then you have to comply with the new privacy guidelines or face huge fines.

That’s why Gigya created its Privacy by Design program. The program works with your organization to assess, evaluate and support changes required to respond to the new GDPR consumer data privacy and protection laws.

Janrain has a new Fraud Score capability that works with its Identity Cloud that will inform you if a new registration has the potential to be fraudulent due to past behavior. It looks at phone number intelligence, traffic patterns and data from other global information services and provides a score which the business system can then review and make programmatic decisions on how to deal with the registration.

Both of these CIAM vendors and others have capabilities in place to support privacy and security of customer identity information and can help organizations automatically adhere to not only GDPR but other regulations such as HIPPA, Canada’s CAN-SPAM, and many others.

My take - connecting the dots for a better experience

Customer analytics is the final piece of the CX story here. The ability to create more refined customer segments is one thing you can do with these CIAM solutions. So when you are creating a marketing campaign that hits a very specific high-value customer, you can dive into the analytics to find those customers. Or when you want to connect with customers that have had the same problems over the last few months to let them know there’s a new solution available, you can run the analytics to find that specific segment.

Many organizations use their CRM as their primary customer identity, but CRMs only store certain types of information, and it doesn’t track the customer before they become a “lead” or an actual customer. You still have to connect other systems to get a full view (or a single view) of the customer.

There are analytics solutions on the market that connect systems to give you that single view. But if you can get that from your identity and access management solution, can connect that view to other systems to gather more customer information and share customer data that helps personalize the experience, wouldn’t that make sense?

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