How consumer omnichannel authentication benefits businesses

Consumers want the same authentication experience across all channels without the hassle of remembering passwords, pins, etc. Consumer omnichannel authentication is transforming businesses and providing key benefits, including improved security posture, less technology to manage and happier customers.

Consumers' rising expectations for an omnichannel experience are driving innovations in user authentication methods. From a business perspective, the idea of switching over to new authentication methods can be hard to swallow. After all, security is not a profit center. But the cost-benefit reality of omnichannel authentication is more nuanced; the innovative methods that are transforming consumers’ authentication experiences also benefit the business with:

  • Improved security posture
  • Less technology to manage
  • Happier customers

Authentication trends and changing user expectations

Many enterprises are already working to introduce omnichannel authentication experiences for customers. For example, a bank may think in terms of the different channels through which it interacts with consumers and strive to apply a common set of security layers for:

  • Account signup and login
  • Applications for credit or loans
  • High-risk tasks such as changing account credentials
  • Interactions with ATMs or human tellers
  • Calling contact centers for help

Consumers come from a different perspective. They want a simple, familiar user experience across all channels. Whether they’re logging into an account on their laptop, phone or tablet, accessing an ATM, or authenticating to a teller at a branch or an agent at a contact center, consumers want the same authentication experience.

That would free them from having to remember several discrete authentication processes (‘password for this,’ ‘PIN for that,’ and ‘photo ID for the other thing’). It would be especially nice if they didn’t need to repeat authentication as they passed between channels; from an online account to speaking with a contact center over a VoIP call, or authorizing an unusual transaction through a push notification.

To an IT professional, this may sound like a big headache to be avoided until external pressures force the change. However, there are several business advantages for taking a leadership role.

Three business benefits of consumer omnichannel authentication

1. Improved security posture

For years now, we have seen the consequences of centralized credential stores. Hackers know that they just need to compromise the authentication layer. One successful phishing or social engineering campaign can lead to the enormous credential breaches that make front-page news.

Sure, the introduction of chip cards has shifted some consumer-data-related liabilities and security burdens. But playing hot potato with liabilities doesn’t solve the larger problem of hackers going after centralized credential stores and the associated regulatory requirements and challenges. Decentralizing authentication by moving the process to users’ endpoints is proven to mitigate the risk of a massive data breach.

“But wait,” you say. “User devices are not as secure as our servers.”

That’s true for some devices, but in a decentralized model a single compromised device won't expose all users' information and it dramatically reduces the likelihood that criminals will attempt to phish or socially engineer many users manually. By default, decentralization scatters the attack surface across the user landscape and limits the potential for damage.

2. Less to manage

For many years, there was no getting around the need for a mix of password, PIN and ID-based authentication methods across different channels. Today, however, this technology mix adds unnecessary complexity and costs to operations.

Replacing various authentication methods across channels with one omnichannel authentication platform means less technology to manage. And, in addition to improving security posture as discussed above, it even helps streamline customer service. That’s why it’s worth considering how you can homogenize authentication for all customer channels and groups.

3. Happier customers

Password management is a big headache for even the most sophisticated consumers: long, unique passwords for every site, especially sensitive accounts; update those passwords frequently; set and record password-recovery questions; and activate two-factor authentication where possible. No wonder businesses are increasingly concerned about improving the user experience for the good guys while filtering out the bad guys.

Good omnichannel authentication solutions strike the right balance. It eliminates the need for users to memorize or manage a catalog of passwords, and provides a secure, consistent experience across all touchpoints.

Rather than dreading the sign-in process, users will actually appreciate how easy it is to move securely between channels.

Better consumer experiences and security ahead

From a customer experience standpoint, it’s easy to make a strong case for omnichannel authentication. But the benefits don’t stop with happier customers. It’s also important to factor in the management and security related benefits of switching over. The sooner you start planning for this, the sooner you can create a superior customer experience while fortifying enterprise security.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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