Omnichannel customer engagement is about establishing a presence across multiple devices and digital channels and then making the experience across those disparate channels as seamless as possible. This is especially vital in retail and banking. Consumers want to interact with brands and financial services providers on their terms. They crave a convenient user experience, whether they’re using Alexa for purchases or transferring funds via a mobile banking application. We need to get beyond passwords for authentication; they are notorious for not only degrading user experience but for interrupting commerce.
But enabling consistent cross-channel experiences is challenging given the many different touch points in modern business: web, mobile, in-store, over-the-phone, automated kiosks such as ATMs and order pickup machines, chatbots, and digital assistants such as Alexa.
A set of core functions – placing an order, seeking assistance, getting account status, transferring funds – must be optimized for these different interfaces. More importantly, those interactions need to be authenticated across these disparate channels in a format that’s intuitive for the customer and appropriate to that specific channel.
The purpose of omnichannel authentication is to consistently, conveniently, and securely verify that a customer is who they claim to be across every possible channel – and biometric authentication is exceptionally well-suited to achieve this.
Adaptable multifactor authentication that goes wherever you go
Biometric modalities like face and voice follow customers across channels, and the modality of choice can vary based on the use conditions. Face, voice, and keystroke are particularly adaptive. Most modern devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops contain cameras and microphones as well as keys or touch screens on which to type.
Consequently, these modalities are highly accessible and cross-platform. Not to mention, out-of-band biometric authentication lets users authenticate on nearly any channel through their smartphone. Customers can perform a face scan while on the phone with support, in-person, or on the web in order to authenticate a request or transaction. There’s no change in the authentication format across channels.
That said, some modalities may be preferable to others based on the situation. Voice is ideal if you’re trying to authenticate hands-free – for example, when verifying a purchase with a digital assistant or authenticating while you’re stuck in traffic and on the phone with customer support. Keystroke dynamics, meanwhile, may be ideal for chat support since typing is native to that medium. For enhanced security in highly sensitive transactions, users can even apply multiple modalities in chorus such as voice and keystroke cadence.
Biometrics are also highly secure. Passwords, security questions, and account confirmation through date of birth and name are all susceptible to fraud. Hackers use phishing scams and social engineering tactics to pilfer credentials and collect information that lets them pose as others on the web.
Using biometrics is much more convenient than passwords, particularly when the user is away from their desktop or office where their passwords can be made handy in case they’re forgotten. Customers don’t need to worry about remembering and maintaining multiple complex passwords or PINs or relying on a password manager when their password is a face, voice, or keystroke.
The best way to manage customer identities
Omnichannel authentication using biometrics succeeds in creating a consistent, passwordless, cross-channel experience that’s simultaneously secure and convenient. Customers are spared incessant password reset requests and instead face a simpler, more intuitive user experience. With biometrics, they can move seamlessly and swiftly between channels.
Brands, meanwhile, have potentially fewer liabilities and risks than when their customers use passwords. Once an email account has been hacked, a fraudster can attempt to gain access to other accounts such as online banking portals and retail memberships by issuing password reset requests. This malicious activity can lead to unauthorized transactions that leave customers unhappy with the service and distrustful of the brand.
At the end of the day, biometrics are a natural fit for omnichannel authentication. The only real question for banks and retailers is not whether but how to use them. The two primary methods for biometric authentication are server- and device-based, and the ideal choice for your organization will vary based on business circumstances, your market, and several other factors that we’ve examined in depth in a free, comprehensive white paper, available here.
For more information about how biometric omnichannel authentication can enhance the security of cross-channel customer engagement, contact the experts at Aware today.