Balance security and customer experience by using text for authentication

OpenMarket – August 9, 2017

When you need to get in touch with your customers to be there, be useful and be responsive, text messaging is a better channel than either email or voice.

In this blog series, we’ll look at seven different Empathetic Moments – times when you can win customer loyalty by sending communications that really matter at exactly the right time.

It’s a scary world out there for people using online services.

Fraud is rife. Data breaches are common. And passwords – the most common approach to protecting personal data online – are regularly exposed as being weak and ineffective.

If you’re a business, this puts you in a difficult position. On the one hand, you want to protect your customers with the best security available. At the same time, you don’t want to restrict them.

The danger is that if you make it too difficult for them to access their account or make a payment, the customer experience suffers and your users end up frustrated. Make it too easy and you’ll be inviting hacks and breaches.

Striking a balance is tough.

The challenge often boils down to making sure your customers can share key information with you at the right time.

For example, if their password expires tomorrow, they need to provide you with a new one today. Or if they want to make a payment, they need to send you something that proves their identity first.

The right communications channel can make all the difference in these situations. And that’s why many businesses are turning to text to simplify authentication.

Why text for authentication

Text is the perfect channel for authentication messages for two reasons:

  • It lets you engage with customers in the moment – 98% of texts are opened within three minutes and of these, 90% are read.
  • It makes it easy for your customers to share information with you – everyone can (and does) use text all the time.

These qualities are crucial when you’re looking to clear up a security matter quickly without hassling your customers.

For example, let’s say you’re an online retailer and one of your customers has entered a new overseas address for an order. This doesn’t normally happen so you suspect foul play.

You could block the account and send them an email. In which case, they won’t even see your message until they open their emails. Or you could send them a text and ask them to verify the address with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.

The latter option is both easier to respond to and just as easy to automate. You have a better chance of reaching your customer because you’re reaching their phone. And you can trigger a command to your other systems as soon as they reply.

Simplifying two-factor authentication

2FA is an easy way to double the security at your disposal. Essentially, customers prove their identity by showing they know something specific (like a password) and have something specific (like their phone).

The thing is, if you choose the wrong ‘factors’, 2FA can become pretty hard to use.

For example, if you ask people to carry fobs or cards, it’s likely they’ll lose them and you’re paying for new hardware. And if you ask them to remember both a password and a separate PIN, you’re doubling the odds of them forgetting key information.

But with text, you can send them a single-use code at the exact moment they need to prove their identity. They just enter their normal password, plus the code. Simple.

Empathetic security

More security doesn’t have to mean more hassle for your customers. If you take the time to consider their needs and perspectives you can deliver a simple customer experience that’s both secure and seamless.

It all comes down to being empathetic about what your customer needs and mindful of the best ways to secure what they’re doing. You just need to identify when frustrations may arise and get ahead of potential issues before they escalate. And then use the right channel to communicate.

To find out how text can help you seize more Empathetic Moments, download the Empathetic Moments workbook.








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