Are you one of those organizations who still expect your visitors to manually fill out a form so they can learn more about you or what you offer? Just so you can populate your customer/prospect database? Or do you leverage their social identity?
While social ID doesn’t cut it for high trust transactions, they’re the right level of identification experience for early introductions. In fact, you could argue that gathering identity information about a contact is quite like a face to face discussion. Case in point – when you first meet someone either in a meet-up or an expo, do you ask them for ID before you hand them a brochure or whitepaper? How often to you demand someone’s driver license as a segue to a discussion? And yet, many companies behave this way on their website. And although you can try to scan you contact’s expo card to get their profile, it’s more of a “nice to have” as opposed to telling someone to leave if they won’t tell you who they are. The important element here is that the online B2C experience, and a growing number of B2B sites as well, are getting friendlier and have a more inviting user experience.
The next level of obstruction is making someone create a login account. Now you’ve done something that forces your prospects and potential customer to create and remember a set of credentials to interact with you. That’s somewhat palatable if your website visitors keep using the same device, but that is seldom the case. So because prospects and customers visit using their notebook, tablet, or phone, you are assuming he cares enough to remember it or store it on his own.
There’s an increasing chance that your competitor(s) are leveraging OpenID/Oauth to leverage their customer’s social ID. I use to accept the fact that I had to keep a secure document to track my credentials – a method I resorted to after my browser’s credential cache corrupted on me. Now that I know better, I get quite impatient with this waste of time. Returning to a website and having them know who I am through my OpenID is a slick experience. And while businesses value the email addresses that they’ve gathered, how many people do you know who use dummy accounts anyway? Hopefully you’re not a business that use email addresses as unique identifiers (the ultimate identity source of truth). These types of identifiers are frustrating because they can’t be changed or updated. Have you ever had an occasion when you are forced to login using an out of date email ID because that is who you are forever? That’s not only irritating, it’s plain stupid. And while we (customers) have been putting up with it in the past, now that it’s blatantly clear that we shouldn’t have to, hopefully your businesses’ website isn’t one of them.
The reality is that businesses that leverage social identities and their OpenID interfaces to personalize content provide a better experience than those who don’t. And their businesses actually have better data about their customers than those who don’t. More importantly, it can be done in a way that is natural, unobtrusive, and inviting to the prospect or customer. If your businesses’ web site puts your users through hoops, there’s a good chance that at least a few of your competitors don’t; with more making the transition each month. It’s time to think of your prospect’s/customer’s profile as a layered identity, with each layer peeled away only when needed – from first touch to transaction.
Dec 20 2012, 01:09 PM