Authentication for customer acquisition, engagement, and action

The invention of the automatic elevator turned the hotel industry on its head —almost literally. The Otis Brothers, owners of an elevator company still in business today, convinced hotels to build high, install elevators and put the luxury suites on the highest floors away from the street with its noise and smell. Before this, the idea of making your highest-paying customers travel up several flights of stairs was unthinkable. Now, hotels could build way more floors, and the rooms could get more expensive the higher up they were, exactly the opposite to before. Elevators turned out to be more than just a way to move people around. They changed how an entire industry worked. It’s a lesson that businesses should think about when implementing any new solution. Is this merely solving a problem, or could it be much more?

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The need for authentication

Driven by regulation and the need to protect customers, today businesses need to implement an authentication solution as soon as they can. The Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) deadline has meant that financial service providers, payment companies and merchants have needed to deploy a specific type of authentication to make it safer for consumers buying online. But this isn’t just a problem for regulated businesses. Any business that wants to protect its customers’ data and meet GDPR requirements needs at least two-factor authentication. The biggest worry that these businesses have is authentication creating friction, standing in the way of engagement and ultimately leading to customers walking away. But rather than being an obstacle, what if authentication can help acquire new customers, drive engagement and boost action? What if authentication could change a business in much the same way as elevators changed hotels?

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The right kind of authentication, combined with a better user experience, can drive engagement rather than stifle it and make it easier for prospects to become customers.

The attention economy

Consumers have flocked to the ease, convenience and immediacy of mobile, and so have businesses looking to win new customers, gain their attention and persuade them to buy. This has created the “attention economy”, where information is no longer scarce—but attention is in short supply. Streaming services have said that their competitors are not other streaming services, but video games and sleep. Today, the app goldrush is pretty much over. This was to be expected, as consumers will tend to stick with a few trusted apps rather than constantly moving around forever. However, this makes things difficult for anyone who wants to reach their customers via mobile. If you’re not already on devices, how can you acquire customers, engage with those customers, and convert attention to transactions in our mobile-first attention-based economy?

Four best practice steps, that can turn authentication from compliance into a customer acquisition and engagement tool

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Step 1: Make onboarding abandonment temporary

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Step 2: Boost engagement with simple access

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Step 3: Turn engagement into action

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Step 4: Build mutual trust

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Step 1: 

Make onboarding abandonment temporary

Persuading potential customers to become customers is difficult—and expensive. Around two thirds of consumers have abandoned applications for financial service products, and an estimated €5bn is spent every year on consumers that abandon the sign-up process. The onboarding process is always going to be asking customers to input a lot of complicated information, and the use of mobile has made this worse. Even the biggest mobile screen doesn’t make switching between apps, copying and pasting very easy.

By making the first part of the process the creation of an authentication profile, then the onboarding process can be stopped and started at any time for any reason.

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Step 2: 

Boost engagement with simple access

Customer engagement only happens if it is friction free. Consumers will engage with an app to check for updates, a delivery status, or to search for new products or services – but only if security doesn’t get in the way. In physical stores, an average engagement of about once a month was considered pretty good. The leading online companies do much better, achieving engagement levels of once a week. On mobile you can achieve much higher average engagement frequencies across your customer base—as often as daily.

Being top of mind through the habitual use of the mobile channel is enabled by simple, secure authentication.

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Step 3: 

Turn engagement into action

As with onboarding, and as with engagement, customer action requires authentication that won’t stand in the way of the transaction. If consumers are onboarded and are engaging but this isn’t resulting in action (and therefore revenue) it’s important to understand why that is. The solution lies in a powerful user experience that is uninhibited by authentication at the point of action.

By ensuring that taking action is simple and intuitive and, crucially, not inhibited by authentication, there will be no reason for engagement not to lead to action.

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Onboarding abandonment, man standing on Trolltunga

Step 4: 

Build mutual trust

Context is everything. A small payment should require minimal friction, as we’ve seen with contactless payments. But if a customer was to encounter the same amount of friction when making a big transfer from their savings account, they would likely not trust the transaction and abandon it.

Friction can be positive—that is, just enough friction to increase trust without losing engagement.

Coming soon
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Authentication must be a key part of the user experience. It cannot be an afterthought.

Next-level authentication

We are thinking beyond authentication as a gatekeeper. We look at how authentication can drive engagement as well as protect customers and businesses.

Today’s reality is that even if a business lives in a customer’s pocket as a mobile app, this does not always mean the battle for the customer is won. Apps often sit on a device unused and unloved—so to drive engagement and transactions, authentication must be as much a friendly customer service representative as it is security.

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