Jun 7, 2023

Top 4 Pitfalls to Avoid in Customer Identity Platform Implementation

Implementing a leading-edge customer identity platform can bring significant benefits to your organization, including a seamless customer experience, rock-solid security, high availability, improved customer data privacy, better insights into customer behavior, and development cost savings

But this transition requires a significant effort and is fraught with potential pitfalls that can result in implementation delays, cost overruns, and customer identity systems that fail to meet your business needs. 

The good news is that these pitfalls can be avoided with careful planning and analysis upfront and diligence during implementation.

In this blog post, we’ll do a level set on what a modern customer identity platform looks like and call out four of the most common implementation pitfalls organizations encounter and how to avoid them.

What is CIAM?

Customer identity platforms are responsible for performing Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) functions. CIAM is a subset of Identity Access Management (IAM) that covers the management of identities and access for an organization’s customers. Notably, CIAM seeks to provide the same type of functionality to customers of an organization that IAM provides for internal workforce users.

A CIAM platform is a software solution that addresses the unique requirements of managing customer identity and access (e.g., user registration, authentication, authorization, and access control). Modern CIAM platforms will typically handle large volumes of customer data, support social media login and other commonly-used authentication approaches, and enable a seamless user experience across multiple channels and devices. These platforms are usually offered by third-party Identity Providers (IdPs) such as Okta and Auth0 that are highly available and secure.

Today’s CIAM platforms offer customers a single access point, username, profile, password, and a consistent experience with additional factors. Once the customer logs in, they will have visibility and access to all applications for which they are authorized. The legacy experience for customers requires them to be able to find their entry points to your applications, while the modern approach provides them with a more funneled approach regarding the customer experience and security.

Comparison of Legacy vs. Modern Customer ID Management Approaches

What Are the Most Common Pitfalls of Implementing a CIAM Platform?

Tevora has extensive experience helping clients implement modern CIAM platforms, and we are often called on to work with organizations that have encountered pitfalls in their implementation process. These are the most common pitfalls we’ve observed:

Inadequate Customer Communications—Failure to effectively communicate the impacts of a CIAM platform implementation to customers can lead to significant problems, including customer confusion, brand damage, and lost revenue. To avoid these problems, clear and comprehensive communication with customers in advance of the implementation is critical. Customers must know precisely how their user experience will change and when it will go into effect. Here are examples of information that must be made clear to customers:

  • When will the changes take effect?
  • How will their user experience change? Will there be new mechanisms for authentication or authorization (e.g., Multi-Factor Authentication)?
  • Will they continue to use their current user ids and passwords, and if not, what are the procedures for changing them?
  • Is there a cut-off date to make these changes and what will happen if they don’t make the required changes within time?
  • Will the change occur for all customers and applications at once, or will the implementation be phased in over time?

This information should be conveyed to customers before the implementation as part of a comprehensive communication plan, with multiple waves of messaging to ensure customers are fully prepared for the change. We also recommend having resources available (e.g., chat, phone hotline, email, etc.) to answer customer questions before, during, and after the implementation. 

Insufficient Buy-In—Your CIAM implementation project can become hindered without complete buy-in from all functional areas of your organization. Getting initial executive management and business/service owners on board is especially important. Implementing a CIAM platform requires a significant commitment of time and resources, and without full support and resource commitments from all parties, your implementation project can become bogged down, significantly delayed, or canceled altogether. In some cases, obtaining the required buy-in can take a year or more, but we recommend taking whatever time is needed to get this level of support before launching your project.

Poor Understanding of Customer Usage Patterns—Understanding how customers use your systems is essential to providing a seamless CIAM platform user experience. If your new platform does not align with customer usage patterns, your customers may find it confusing or cumbersome, leading to low adoption rates and lost revenue opportunities. 

To avoid these problems, invest upfront to understand all customer use cases and behavior patterns. Consider techniques such as walkthroughs, customer focus groups, and individual customer interviews to ensure an accurate and comprehensive understanding of customer usage, including error or failure cases. And for new functions such as Multi-Factor Authentication, consider reviewing prototypes with representative customer groups to ensure the user experience is as seamless as possible.

Incomplete Testing—Comprehensive testing of every aspect of your CIAM platform is critical. Too many organizations experience significant problems when their CIAM platforms have not been adequately tested prior to implementation. 

Unlike identity access management platforms for workforce users, returning to the previous environment is generally not an option because the customer impact would be too significant. Imagine communicating to your customers that they need to return to the previous environment because of the botched implementation. Most organizations are not willing to do this other than in catastrophic situations. If problems arise, it’s more likely you will want to fix them and “fall forward.”

The best way to steer clear of implementation problems is to get it right the first time by ensuring that you’ve tested every possible customer use case, including error and failure scenarios. 

While there are other pitfalls you may face in your CIAM platform implementation, in our experience, these four are the most common, and all can potentially derail your implementation project significantly.

Additional Resources

Below are additional resources that provide a deeper dive into the topics covered in this blog post:

Tevora Can Help

If you have questions about CIAM platforms, or would like help implementing one in your environment, just give us a call at (833) 292-1609 or email us at sales@tevora.com.

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