Knowing the Difference between Consumer and Customer
In the world of digital identity we often talk about the importance of a frictionless customer journey as the key to achieving a positive customer experience. The challenge is balancing this with security and privacy. Yet, for many product-centric companies, the link between customer experience and digital identity can sometimes be an elusive concept.
To Illustrate My Point . . .
I recently had the misfortune of realizing I’d been paying for mobile services I no longer needed. After going through bank statements, I realized that my phone company had neglected to cancel my wife’s old phone contract when she upgraded, and as a result we had been over-charged multiple times by the mobile phone provider. Admittedly, this was partly my fault for not checking sooner - oops!
As it happens, my family has three accounts with this provider, covering phones used by me, my wife, and our son. It doesn’t matter that all of the accounts are paid for out of a joint account - known as the ‘bank of mum and dad’ - what matters is that it’s my name on the account as the bill payer, despite not actually consuming the services of all accounts. Anyway, the issue when trying to resolve these extra charges came about because, since my name is on the account my wife is unable to access the information to sort it out – the provider won’t talk to her. And because the contract in question is my wife’s phone I wouldn’t necessarily have easy access to call them from her device. When I call in to customer services from a different device (such as my own phone) I can’t use the fingerprint option to authenticate, and when they send a one-time-password to the device to authenticate me, that relies on my wife and I being physically co-located. Since we weren’t together at the time of trying to resolve this, it created a complicated back and forth chat to exchange in-coming details and codes. Therefore, the fundamental issue is that our mobile phone operator is unable to build digital relationships between the consumer, the customer, and the device.
What Does A Good Customer Experience Look Like?
Well, in a perfect world, the mobile phone company would have operated an identity intuitive service, meaning they would have had the ability to understand the individual consuming their services may be different to the bill-payer, or ‘customer’. They would have been able to tell that although it is my name on three different billing accounts, I don’t actually consume all three services. Managing identity to distinguish between users and bill payers, and their relationship to different devices and services, is essential to enable a truly personalized customer experience.
In assuming the customer and consumer are the same, Telcos are missing the opportunity to improve the overall customer experience. An identity platform helps organizations shift from their product-centric paradigm to a customer-centric view of the world. For my phone company it would mean allowing my wife to administer her own phone, even though it’s technically my name on the account, or for me to do it from my phone, even though I am not the user.
True customer centricity requires entire business processes to be re-invented with the customer journey in mind, ultimately providing low-friction and low-frustration experiences. Identity really is at the heart of that challenge.