The hyperconnected consumer

The global pandemic sparked an explosion of digital commerce as consumers embraced the convenience and safety of online transactions. As a result, businesses everywhere are pursuing digital transformation and powerful new capabilities that can deliver the seamless and personalized customer experiences that today’s savvy, hyperconnected consumers expect.

Consumers want two things when interacting with online businesses and favorite brands — a great experience and a secure experience. They want to be engaged by the online experience, which means ensuring that every customer journey — from the first engagement with a brand — is as smooth as possible. And the ideal experience is no longer just a nice to have, it has become a critical differentiator as organizations race to adapt to ever-evolving consumer preferences.

Today’s informed customers also care about digital security and privacy and they expect brands to protect their data from fraud, breaches and privacy violations as the flow of online transaction data soars. Providing appropriate security has therefore become crucial as emerging digital capabilities create new threats and ‘attack surfaces’ among businesses catering to consumers.

The unprecedented consumer trend toward digital commerce is putting digital trust at the heart of online interactions. But trust isn’t just about enterprise security in the face of potential breaches and disruptions — it’s also about protecting customer data, managing how it is used, and respecting the ways in which customers expect businesses to provide services. If a business falls short in providing a secure and reliable experience, customers may go elsewhere — to a competitor or new entrant that can make customers feel better. And the word can spread instantly across social media to heighten the impact of a miscue.

Identity is the currency of trust

Digital capabilities and omnichannel services have become indispensable to success for today’s retailers. Amid the rapid digital transformation of business models and the intense focus on customer-centric strategies, customer identity and access management (CIAM) systems are providing crucial capabilities to play a concierge role — directing and overseeing customer access to a business’s digital products and services.

CIAM essentially plays a significant role in differentiating the customer experience. The quality of the ‘concierge’ experience can be the difference between engaging customers who stick around and alienating frustrated customers who turn to the competition to meet their needs and expectations. Trust goes both ways and enhancing it leads to higher confidence between all parties involved. That’s particularly important today for consumers, as trust in businesses and brands is being threatened by data breaches and news of other alarming security incidents. For businesses, meanwhile, trust in consumers is in flux due to fraudsters and attackers impersonating legitimate customers. Success demands a risk-based approach to consumer authentication that includes the following three priorities:

  1. Bring a new mindset to security
    Historically, security has been about protecting things like money and assets, including the value of the data a business holds. But when it comes to digital trust, organizations are protecting more than their data — they’re protecting customer identity itself and ideally becoming more adept at preventing and identifying threats. This is a mindset shift in how businesses think about security and it involves thinking more holistically about what needs protection.
  2. Don’t disrupt the interaction
    It’s imperative that businesses and brands make it as simple as possible for customers to use their services and purchase products. Don’t disrupt the flow. Always look at digital interactions with the goal of making the experience efficient and memorable. Put the right risk tolerances in place and always give the end-user a seamless and convenient experience. 
  3. Improve your risk posture
    One way that organizations are taking security to the next level is through threat analytics and sharing of data with likeminded companies, whereby different organizations share login and breached-account information to warn customers if their information may have been involved in a potential breach.

When it comes to facilitating a seamless experience, federated identity models (FIMs) — which help identify individuals based on certain personal behaviors and attributes — can be used to build consumer digital trust. A business can adopt another organization’s existing customer profile to support convenient online services and transactions.

When customers can gain access to a service via their existing customer profiles, such as social media profiles, it provides ease of use — they can create a profile based on previously entered data rather than repeatedly re-entering their personal information. Businesses meanwhile don’t need to invest in an independent security interface and can leverage the weight of a larger organization’s resources. But how can organizations fully trust it? It all comes down to their risk appetite. Every business needs to assess to what degree they trust each FIM and develop their own appropriate frameworks.

A centralized trust model correlated to each unified consumer identity can help assess the level of trust that is in place and how it impacts fraudsters attempting to transact on behalf of a customer or impersonate an account over the digital channel.

The focus on trust keeps growing

With people replacing traditional face to face transactions with online interactions and brands launching more digital and omnichannel experiences, the emphasis on trust continues to grow. If an organization isn’t investing in the quality and security of their customer relationships, they’re at risk of being displaced in the market by digitally enabled competitors.

It’s never too late to be proactive and enhance customer trust in today’s fast evolving consumer-centric era. The number of people accessing online environments will continue to rise. Being able to manage a growing number of customers while monitoring the significantly increased pressure on digital workflows, will be key factors for success. A business that securely and smoothly authenticates its customers and ensures a safe digital perimeter guarantees its own long-term viability.

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