Don’t Insult Me! IAM Not a Criminal!

Do you insult your online customers?

How well you manage your customers’ digital identities and online access may say some about the success of your online business. You may well be leaving some money on the table by insulting your customers.

Gartner has published my favourite article of all time so far with:

Don’t Treat Your Customer Like a Criminal (Gartner)

In the context of managing customers’ digital identities and online access, Gartner defines a key metric of Insult Rate.

The term ‘insult rate’ refers to the percentage of customer interactions canceled by the customer due to offense, frustration or missed deadlines due to manual review activities. (Gartner)

Customer offence and frustration is related to the customer experience impact involved in Identity and Access Management functions such as authentication (e.g. failed authentications), step-up authentication requests, registration processes, password resets  and others.

Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) functions create a first impression with online customers. That first impression, and the feeling that customers develop over time through CIAM functions, influence the frequency and the volume of customer online transactions. CIAM functions impact customer satisfaction, retention, loyalty and the amount of business they eventually give.

The greatest risk to a business is no longer fraudulent activity. The greatest risk is obsolescence in the digital world and consequent loss of customers to competitors. (Gartner)

20% on the table

Forrester reports that Customer eXperience (CX) laggards are leaving money on the table and CX leaders are capitalising on their investment for better CX in competitive sectors. Their report certainly applies to online business.

CX drives revenue – lots of it (Forrester)

Gartner predicts:

By 2022, digital businesses with great customer experience during identity corroboration will earn 20% more revenue than comparable businesses with poor customer experience. (Gartner)

Such a prediction is consistent with a report from McKinsey:

when consumers find the authentication process easy, they use digital services 10 to 20 percent more than customers who are frustrated by authentication (McKinsey)

20% online transactions and 20% revenue is at stake with CIAM.

How to take the 20% with a better CIAM?

Getting CIAM right helps. It:

  • Reduces information security risks with strong and adaptive security;
  • Improves consumer experience at the same time; and
  • Valorises organisations’ security investments with a tangible and direct business benefit.

I would suggest the following key actions as a good start to getting CIAM right:

  1. Develop a CIAM strategy, which essentially answers the following question: “How to efficiently manage the digital identities and the online access of customers securely, conveniently and for best customer satisfaction?”. Focus on the intersect of Customer eXperience (CX) with the strength of security controls. Get a good understanding of your customer base and how they would best relate to security options;
  2. Assign the CIAM initiative to a business sponsorship & leadership. CIAM is first about business outcomes, within compliance requirements and risk level appetite. Collaborate across security, digital and business stakeholders on the CIAM functions from the beginning of the initiative;
  3. Give your customers choices of authentication methods, within required authentication assurance levels. Different demographics have different expectations (Dr Chris Rathborne provides an interesting observation in a section of this report);
  4. Apply a User eXperience framework to IAM processes. For example, consider User Centred Design (UCD) principles for the development of IAM processes and user interfaces. The following article also provides good advice on IAM UI design; and
  5. Don’t forget about good privacy management practices to further strengthen your business.


Feature picture credit: Designed by Kues




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