Customer Identity and Access Management Are Critical for Your Business

Companies are finding that the easiest way to get personal with their customers is by leveraging data to build customer identity.

Consumers aren’t holding back about their penchant for personalization. They expect tailored experiences more than ever—and they’re not afraid to shop around to get them. Companies are finding that the easiest way to get personal with their customers is by leveraging data to build customer identity.

However, they need to make sure they gather and protect consumer data properly. Otherwise, they risk both disappointing shoppers and exposing private information.

Just how strong is the desire for personalization among buyers? McKinsey’s findings suggest around seven out of 10 consumers expect brands to interact with them on a one-to-one level. This could mean anything from making purchase navigation recommendations to offering promos like coupons.

When consumers feel they’re getting personalized care, 78% are likely to refer brands to friends or become repeat buyers. This appreciation of personalization presents a serious opportunity for companies.

Yet personalization in the digital realm is more complicated than in the physical one. The only way to know an existing customer from an unnamed “guest” or “user” is by collecting and using data. And keeping all that data safe necessitates solid customer identity and access management (CIAM).

CIAM: The Pathway to Secure Customer Personalization

Broadly speaking, CIAM is the practice of handling all customer-focused data. Having solid CIAM workflows backed by a CIAM platform allows you to give your buyers personalized treatment without compromising security.

For instance, say you want to gather as much first-party information as you can from visitors. The simplest way to do that is to encourage visitors to become members, followers, etc., of your brand. That way, every time they log in, they leave you nice breadcrumbs. Later, you can use those breadcrumbs to deliver personalized product suggestions or deploy custom-crafted content.

The problem is that you want the login to be protective while also being deceptively convenient. The right CIAM tech partner can help you devise a one-step registration method that seems intuitive, not intrusive.

As CIAM provider Okta explains, a way to achieve this type of customer identity management goal is by sending users a one-time code. That way, they don’t have to remember a password. It’s quick and effortless on their part while allowing you to authenticate them. As soon as they complete authentication, you can begin learning more about them. Companies can do this in several ways.

Three Steps to Greater Personalization

Discovering more about your customers through CIAM can be achieved in three ways.

First, you can track obvious data such as when customers buy, what they buy, how often they buy, and related touchpoints. You can then leverage this data to give you a deeper sense of every customer’s shopping behavior.

For example, you might notice that a customer makes the same purchase about every four weeks between 8:00 p.m. and midnight on Mondays. This insight could become the impetus for thoughtful “nudges” to keep this behavior going.

You don’t limit customer discovery to actual sales, though. Customers are often willing to allow you to use cookies to see how they use your site.

In a recent Merkle Customer Experience Sentiment Report, fewer than one-quarter of respondents were unwilling to let companies see their personal data. Most accepted that to get better experiences, they needed to give up some private information. Consequently, part of your CIAM strategy might include harvesting cookie data. The data, especially after being parsed by AI-enhanced software, could provide insider details into personalization opportunities.

A final way to use CIAM to get closer to your target audiences is to find a product that can offer authentication across channels. Therefore, you’ll be able to see into a customer’s habits no matter how they interact with your company.

Too often, companies aren’t able to make the most of customer data that comes from separate locations. A CIAM solution that can work in an omnichannel environment closes that gap.

CIAM: Solving the Compliance Conundrum

The digital marketplace is inching closer to being more regulated in terms of collecting consumer data.

Google has announced its intention to terminate all third-party cookies by the end of 2023. This comes concurrently with a number of consumer-centric bills, laws, and regulations like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). In other words, the online ecosystem is shifting toward more empowerment of users.

These regulations need not thwart your company. Just rely upon your CIAM to make sure all sensitive customer identity data is collected and stored compliantly.

One critical aspect of compliance is implementing a robust cookie consent policy. This policy ensures that users are informed about the use of cookies for data collection and empowers them to provide explicit consent before their data is stored or processed. By adhering to these regulations and embracing responsible data practices, businesses can cultivate trust among consumers and demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding personal information in the digital era.

Some CIAM systems even have compliance embedded as part of their “as-a-service” offerings. Make sure to ask when you’re deciding between available solutions. (Ask about how the CIAM integrates with your other tech stack pieces like your CRM system, too.)

Remember: Being compliant doesn’t mean you can’t deliver a personal touch. With CIAM, you can develop seamless and secure registration and onboarding.

In time, customers should become more comfortable with your brand. This can often lead them to give you more data, such as in the form of surveys or reviews. Eventually, you’ll both benefit from a relationship that’s responsible, responsive, and has a personal touch.