The magic of customer data transparency powered by CIAM

Ondrej Skrehota

Ondrej Skrehota

Ondrej is Managing Partner to Brighten Digital and leads our Consultancy team.

Summary

In our third blog post on CIAM, we’ll discuss transparency. Because it matters. You need to be absolutely transparent with your customers about how you handle their data to gain their trust. Trust translates into consent, subscriptions and purchases. To make it hands-on, I’ll share our simple rules to help you with transparency. We’ll explain which role CIAM plays in handling your customer data transparently.

Intro

In the last post we went through the business benefits CIAM can bring. Today we’ll discuss how to build trust through transparency. I’ll try to explain why transparency is so important.  And together with the folks at Brighten we’ve tried to formulate simple rules related to customer data transparency and mapped those to capabilities CIAM brings.

If you’re dealing with multiple markets or even brands and channels and you want to exceed your customers expectations when it comes to experience during registration, login and profile update, remember CIAM is the ONLY way to do so.

Why is transparency important?

Because customers are calling for it, and they are very loud when you think about it! 

What happens when you lack transparency and trust? Maybe you know what’s going on with 3rd party cookies. A true mayhem when it comes to 2nd and 3rd party data and many aspects of digital marketing. Have you ever asked yourself why that happened? I believe that it’s mainly the lack of transparency leading to a lack of trust that killed the whole concept. 

What happens on the other hand when your customers believe you’re treating them with respect and they deserve transparency with regards to the data you collect? They give you the data you need to give them what they want. They give you a chance (consent) to reach out to them. And trust me when I’m saying you’ll need consent badly (I guess this would be the topic for my next post).

But HOW to be transparent? During one of the CIAM implementations, I stumbled upon a really great set of recommendations made by former Gigya – now SAP CDC. It is a hidden gem in their documentation. Those recommendations are related to optimizing conversion in registration forms but can easily be generalized into recommendations related to transparency:

  1. Prove relevance – A prospective user is visiting your property for the first time. Is your offering compatible to the user’s needs? Be clear and direct about your value offering.
  1. Go slow – The user is getting to know you. Don’t ask for your user’s personal information (or for any kind of input) before they have become acquainted with your site. Sometimes it’s enough to move the registration form to the bottom of the page – below the important content, and not above it. Also, always ask for the minimal amount of information. Are last name and home address an absolute must for the initial registration? Is signing up crucial at this stage?
  1. Upfront disclosure – At the critical moment (registration, purchase), don’t hide the important things in the fine print. Tell users clearly why you need their personal information and what are you doing with it. Outline what is covered by your services or products and, perhaps more importantly, what isn’t.
  1. Give control – Don’t betray the trust you were given. Prove to your users that they have control over their personal data.
  1. Exceed expectations – Now it’s up to you to deliver your promises. Remember that every contact point with the customer can be an opportunity.

Simple and cool, right? I’ve brought these rather tactical recommendations to our team when we’ve been asked by a client to formulate some more strategic rules of thumb their business users should stick to when defining how their processes related to customer data should work. 

I’ve imagined the customer data collection as a journey starting with registration and looked for some recommendations that would resonate. And then I remembered recommendations mentioned in the SAP CDC documentation that really appealed to me.

We have reordered and reformulated these as strategic recommendations related to transparency of customer data. Here we go:

Simple set of rules for customer data transparency

It should always be clear why you need the data you are collecting. Basically there are two scenarios when you need to think about this rule:

  • The moment when collecting data – this would be achieved through some sort of form either during registration or when collecting additional data using progressive profiling. 
  • The moment when showing the collected data to a customer – you can achieve this by a well- structured customer profile.

CIAM helps you with both – it takes out the complexity of building well working registration forms in many varieties collecting the right amount of data. CIAM will also establish a central, well-structured user profile. Finally, CIAM makes sure that you always have the data you need – for example: the more advanced CIAM solutions will give you the option to set up a Single Sign-On across multiple sites or applications collecting the additional required information only when a customer starts to use a particular service. And you will be able to display the right message explaining why you need that particular information.

Prove to your customers that they have control over their data:

  • Build a great self-serviced customer profile accessible across all your sites and applications.
  • Allow them to exercise all rights given them by legislation like the ones to control and modify their data in a simple but secure manner.  
  • Think about the right structure, put all records of consent in one place, explain why the data or consent are being collected and required. 

Finally, even though this might be painful, let customers leave when they decide to because they might come back. But they definitely won’t if you make the process of leaving a nightmare.

CIAM has you covered here. One of the key features is the capability of building a nice customer profile that is handled centrally across your portals and applications. You can show any data to your customers and let them modify those. Great CIAM solutions will let you manage consent in a great way. And letting customers go is much simpler in situations when almost all their data are stored in one place. CIAM solutions are well prepared for deletion of the data and related processes.

SAP has it perfectly right: At the critical moment (registration, purchase), don't hide the important things in the fine print. Tell users clearly why you need their personal information and what you are doing with it. Outline what is covered by your services or products and, perhaps more importantly, what isn't.

Good CIAM solution will provide you with simple means to achieve exactly that. Plus you will be able to modify and evolve your solution without coding. Across all your brands, markets, language versions and apps from one place.

We’re actually pretty aligned with what your DPO would say! Store it if you need to know it. Don’t ask for personal information unless you really need it to know how to provide a better service or to offer something back. 

More advanced CIAM solutions could be extremely handy here: you can add required fields later on and set the solution up in a way that it would ask the customers to provide this information the moment they log in the next time. All that across all your portals and applications. Cool, right? And did we mention something called Lite Registration that enables you to employ owned channels even before your customers are your customers and helps you onboard them when they decide to become one? Good CIAM solutions have it there for you.

All the time and in all aspects. Strive to make tasks simpler for your customers than they would expect. Can your customers say: “Wow, that was simple” or “I didn’t expect to be able to do this easily on a mobile!” Because if they do, you’re doing better than most of your competitors. Have customer data secured perfectly, yet don’t force them to retype 2FA codes every time they log in. (Have you heard of risk-based authentication?)

 

If you’re dealing with multiple markets or even brands and channels and you want to exceed your customers expectations, remember CIAM is the ONLY way to do so when it comes to the processes CIAM covers. Without it you’re destined to start all over again and never do it properly.

And if you don’t believe that transparency rules

Well, I’m not a fan of the “realpolitik” approach, but I have something for you as well. If you don’t agree with me that transparency leads to trust and that leads to more customers, think about it in a different way. We all know that data related laws and regulations are growing fiercer and many of the “best practices” will become regulatory requirements later. Basically the more transparent you are now, the less effort and costs you will need to spend later. And you’ll avoid defective business models that would be disrupted later when too many consumers get upset and regulations come in.

Outro

While there is no one-size fits all approach to CIAM, we believe that transparency when it comes to customer data is always a good way to go. We hope that Brighten’s recommendations can be helpful. And when it comes to CIAM, feel free to reach out and discuss the solution for you. It’s April and you can still be easily remediated with a great solution this year and if you come later, remember, we can set you up and running in 4 months.

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