What is customer identity and access management? Why does it matter?

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Customer identity and access management (CIAM) is quickly becoming a must-have technology for companies looking to provide a safe, friction-free digital experience for their customers.

A few weeks before the pandemic caused major lockdowns around the globe, my mom went online to buy a gift for my daughter. She wanted something personal, not a quick pick recommended by Amazon.

Her ensuing journey with another retailer’s site can only be described as painful:

  1. Passwords requested, set, forgotten, and re-requested
  2. A daily e-newsletter she didn’t know she signed up for appeared in her inbox
  3. By the time she got through manually entering delivery addresses and account information, she was too frustrated to complete the purchase

My mom isn’t the only one having this kind of frustrating experience – 35% of online transactions are dropped because of a required registration prompt.

How can brands avoid this? CIAM.

Customer identity and access management: 3 core functions

Customer identity and access management software creates a single cloud platform that enables brands to do three things:

  1. Capture and manage customer identities to remove friction at registration and log-in
  2. Build robust customer profiles based on first-party, permission-based data
  3. Orchestrate and govern customer profiles in near real-time to other customer engagement solutions to deliver personalized experiences

These capabilities have become more critical in the wake of the global pandemic, which has forced brands to go digital in a hurry.

Companies need their digital relationships to pick up the slack caused by the drop of in-person engagement. Some are experimenting with new online channels as a way to supplement lost opportunities. Others are trying to expand the impact of their existing channels.

These shifts in strategy – and the speed with which they’re being executed – are exacerbating the challenges many brands faced before the pandemic hit. As my mom’s story highlights, brands had room to improve the digital experience before. Now – with digital relationships as the clear priority – it’s a necessity.

Customer identity and access management benefits

Customer identity and access management provides brands with three core benefits.

  1. Seamless experiences

With CIAM, companies can create frictionless, secure registration and log-in flows across channels and devices. So, if a customer visits your website and downloads a mobile app, the account access experience will be seamless, fast, and secure.

  1. Building customer trust

CIAM helps deliver the transparency and control customers demand through its easy integration with enterprise consent and preference management solutions.

This allows brands to collect consent and communications preferences directly from consumers, manage these choices as terms and business needs change, and track all of this data in an audit-ready vault. In addition, it offers self-service portals where customers can manage their own data and communications preferences.

The result: more customer trust and an improved ability to address data privacy regulation requirements such as GDPR and CCPA.

  1. Customer insights

Finally, CIAM helps to set a foundation of customer insight that brands can use to future-proof their business. It enables them to extract maximum value from customer data by providing a unified view across every channel and by progressively building profiles over time. Through this solution, brands can:

  • Bridge data silos
  • Create unified customer profiles
  • Synchronize with pre-built integrations

CIAM enables businesses to infuse any application or service with first-party data to deliver trusted, relevant, and personalized customer experiences. In addition, they can analyze these profiles for insights that can lead to better experiences in the future.

Know who your customers are and how they want to be treated

In the end, I helped my mom find just the right gift for my daughter. And I walked her through the retailer’s registration process, so she now knows what to watch for.

Consumers around the globe are making buying decisions based on their digital experience. With customer identity and access management, brands can provide a seamless, trusted digital experience that has customers coming back for more.

Learn more about customer identity and access management.
Download the latest Forrester Wave for CIAM HERE.

Ratul Shah
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Ratul Shah

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