Insight

Five key steps to a simple, secure and effective customer experience setup

How the right customer ID and authentication process can build your customer base – and your business.

Jason Galloway

Jason Galloway

Principal, Advisory, US Customer Advisory Leader, KPMG US

+1 636-614-4250

Jeffrey Mango

Jeffrey Mango

Managing Director, Advisory, Customer Solutions, KPMG US

+1 404-614-8757

Deepak Mathur

Deepak Mathur

Managing Director, Cyber Security Services, KPMG US

+1 408-367-7676

 

It all begins with the "simple" customer log-on; whether it's shopping, investing, banking, or just browsing a company's website, more and more people are using digital and self-service channels. However, all too often, existing and potential customers are frustrated with an essential aspect of that experience: the log-on. Instead of being a smooth, connected experience, it becomes a disjointed and redundant process.

Where simplicity is desired, complexity abounds. What should be quick and easy for your customers becomes time-consuming, takes too many steps, and forces them to supply the same information multiple times.

When this happens enough times, customer attrition rates rise and your business suffers. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. This report offers tangible recommendations to improving the authentication experience and process, resulting in more satisfied customers and a better bottom line.

Consumer frustration is bad for business

Studies have shown that many consumers are frustrated and feel that companies aren't meeting their needs through digital channels. KPMG’s own Connected Enterprise research underscores the importance of this—38% of customer-centric organizations are more likely to report greater profitability than their competitors.2 For businesses to satisfy customer wants to create engaging experiences throughout the customer lifecycle, marketers should start at the very beginning of a customer’s journey.

The scary part for you is that nearly three-quarters of consumers question why they are doing business with companies that produce these frustrations and are considering doing business with someone else.1

One of the leading sources of frustration lies within the identity authentication process that's part of the log-on—and coincidentally the very first experience your customers have when interacting with your company. More than 60 percent of consumers reported abandoning transactions because of authentication difficulties, and more than 80 percent said they would prefer doing business with companies that make authentication easy and safe. Further, 85 percent reported that a complicated authentication process negatively reflects on a company, with 53 percent reporting that it has a "major" or "significant" adverse impact.3

 

 

Degree to Which a Difficult Authentication Process Reflects Negatively on a Company

Source: CMO Council, Unify How You Verify: Authentication Frustration: How Companies Lose Customers in the Digital Age (2021)

   

8 out of 10

consumers would rather do business with companies that make authentication easy and safe. 

Safety and security must still be a priority

The severe and counterbalancing need to make the identification and authentication process safe and secure is at the root of this customer frustration. Perhaps the biggest concern related to this issue is safeguarding the consumer's personal and confidential information from cybercriminals and others who wish to misuse it.

Customers have never been more concerned about their data and privacy, and with good reason. According to identity threat specialist 4iQ, there are approximately 8.7 billion stolen identity records on the dark web.4 One of the byproducts of this cybercriminal threat is that regulators globally are raising the bar for data privacy and protection. For example, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) has fined companies over 10 million euros.

In addition, there's a critical business need for companies to correctly identify and categorize customers and clients for record-keeping and marketing purposes.

So the question is, how do you find the right solution that balances a company's need to protect customer data with the corresponding need to offer a simple and easy process for consumers to do business in this digital world?

CIO and CMO cooperation essential for success

Customer authentication is primarily seen as an information technology (IT) issue. That's understandable as the IT department is typically responsible for building the systems for identifying and authenticating new and returning customers.

However, IT often looks at this task from its perspective and through a technology lens; it may not see or fully appreciate how the safety measures they put in place land with customers. What IT sees as sensible and logical security measures are often viewed by consumers as irritating roadblocks that discourage doing business with the company.

Because of this, marketing and other departments need to step in and work with IT to develop a robust authentication process that is consumer-friendly. With this solution, customers will find it secure and straightforward to use while helping the company grow its business. However, breaking down any siloes between IT and the other departments will require a high degree of cooperation and orchestration across the company.

Five keys to a better authentication process

How does it work for your customer? That's the critical question you need to answer to start the process. Your company needs to gain first-person insight into the authentication processes and see the "pain points" along the customer journey.

To find the proper process, you need first to understand your customer's needs and where frustrations crop up. Then you have to break down complexity to align your business around the customer while keeping in mind the state of the marketplace and your organization's needs.

Below is a framework you can use or adapt to accomplish this dual goal. But you should always be mindful that IT and marketing must work together each step of the way to ensure that both customers’ needs and security concerns are being considered and addressed:

1.  Put and keep customers at the center of all you do.

  • Identify and document all customer interactions that require authentication and then consider their impact throughout the organization, including cyber security teams, legal, marketing, digital, operations, and others.
    • This identification will reveal customer pain points and opportunity areas while suggesting ways to lessen friction.
    • Whether directly customer-facing or not, every business unit will benefit from this insight.
  • Determine the impact of each aspect of the six Customer Service pillars at each journey point after mapping all of the potential interactions.
    • Segmenting them into the six pillars allows the connection to actionable impacts and improvements in a customer's experience and journey.
  • Ensure that a "human touch" channel is a readily available alternative for high-touch interactions that can't be easily solved through automation or self-serve channels.

2.  Focus on linking your front, middle, and back office so your organization can best accommodate your customers.

  • This is the critical reason for mapping out your customer's experience when logging on and navigating through your website.
  • This customer experience focus should also encompass potential customer interactions regarding billing, product or service complaints, general informational questions, and so on.

3.  Take an omnichannel view of authentication.

  • Two guiding principles throughout this process are (1) minimizing the need for re-authenticating customers and (2) ensuring that they have the same experience regardless of where they go on your website.
    • Business units often employ different authentication procedures. This siloed approach can be a business killer that results in angry, frustrated customers.
    • It’s essential to always view it from the customer's point of view, take an omnichannel picture of the authentication process, and determine where there are sticking points.

4.  Establish a process for measurement and collecting feedback.

  • Use technology-driven tools like lookalike modeling, recommendation engines, and digital twin technology to collect and assess customer feedback. They also can help you uncover new and often unarticulated customer needs or desires.
  • It's critical to measure regularly and determine whether your efforts succeed or need necessary modifications.
  • As part of the measurement process, pay attention to your employees, other key stakeholders and service level KPIs.

5.  Maintain an unwavering focus on cyber security, privacy, and protecting customers.

  • Safety and security must remain paramount while you simultaneously take steps to transform your identification and authentication process.
  • While customer protection is critical, you shouldn't lose focus on maintaining your organization's security with its suppliers, vendors, and contractors.

Make that change right now

The marketing and technology departments should take steps to work together to transform the current customer ID, and authentication process into one that (1) reduces (if not eliminates) customer frustration, (2) protects data and other confidential information, and (3) guards against cybercriminals.

Adopting easier, less frustrating forms of customer ID and authentication can help attract new customers, retain your current ones, and grow your business. Maintaining a process requiring multiple steps or duplicating authentication during one transaction will motivate customers to do business elsewhere and cost your company revenue.

The systems implemented should also serve the dual purpose of tracking customers for future marketing and information gathering efforts. The implementation will become even more critical in the near future as Google and Apple are killing off the use of "advertising cookies."5 It will be essential for your organization to build and maintain a loyal, happy customer base that trusts you enough to grant permission to use and share their data in, for example, internal marketing campaigns.

You can accomplish the twin goals of developing a robust and secure authentication process that is consumer-friendly by taking advantage of your existing platforms, integrating new technology, and designing and implementing a well thought out process. It will take time, effort and the close cooperation between marketing and IT, but the payoff will surely be worth it.

The six pillars of world class customer experience

These six pillars of customer service are essential for building a satisfied and loyal customer base and growing your business.

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Empathy

  • Organizations fail to act on inconsistencies and pain points of authentication processes
  • Organizations fail to clearly communicate data security, authentication process and rationale 

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Personalization

  • Fails to accurately use customer data to inform authentication
  • Fail to tailor authentication processes based on interaction channel 

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Time and Effort

  • Long and complex login and authentication processes (>30 seconds)
  • Number of authentication factors exceed the level of security/privacy needed for a specific transaction 

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Expectations

  • Failure to provide a frictionless, secure, and simple authentication
  • Need to authenticate identity more than once during a single session

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Resolution

  • Failure to provide knowledgeable professionals providing resolution
  • Failure to provide efficient & effective resolution to authentication challenges

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​​​Integrity

  • Customers do not trust that data and personal information is protected
  • Risks of fraud or non-compliance for company and consumer

Footnotes

  1. Source: CMO Council, How Covid Has Changed the Channels of Engagement (November 2020)
  2. Source: KPMG, Make the Connection (January 2020)
  3. Source: CMO Council, Unify How You Verify: Authentication Frustration: How Companies Lose Customers in the Digital Age (October 2021)
  4. Source: CISION PR Newswire, 8.7 Billion Raw Identity Records on Surface, Deep and Dark Web in 2017 According to 4iQ 2018 Identity Breach Report, (May 2018)
  5. Source: Bloomberg.com, Apple and Google Are Killing the (Ad) Cookie. Here’s Why (April 26, 2021)

 

 

Coauthors:

Ian Benson, Director, Customer Advisory, KPMG US

Neil Hunt, Associate, Customer Advisory, KPMG US

   

KPMG Marketing Consulting helps some of the world's leading marketers make the right investments that deliver meaningful, sustained growth. At every step, we deliver insights that help you make decisions with precision and confidence. Together, we’ll turn opportunities into tangible, transformative results. Let’s start the conversation.

KPMG Marketing Consulting helps some of the world's leading marketers make the right investments that deliver meaningful, sustained growth. At every step, we deliver insights that help you make decisions with precision and confidence. Together, we’ll turn opportunities into tangible, transformative results. Let’s start the conversation.