How Biometrics Elevate the User Experience

How Biometrics Elevate the User Experience

Everyone agrees that the core business case for adopting biometric identity verification is the enhanced security it provides.

Or is it?

If you’re not a financial institution, a government entity, or a bond villain, you may think biometric verification is overkill for your line of business.

But biometrics are farther along the hype cycle than you may think, and you don’t need customer satisfaction surveys to understand the increasing friction experienced by online customers at points of access – especially when access is credential-based.

The natural tension between securing access through credentials and maintaining high standards for the user experience (UX) is nothing new. However, as everyone spanning from the hospitality sector to service providers and online retailers incorporate increasingly intricate layers of online security measures to counter evolving threats, they inadvertently chip away at the overall quality of the user experience (UX) bit by bit.

This article examines the significant and often overlooked customer experience benefits of biometric verification, and why, for some companies, the ROI from UX improvements rivals that derived from enhanced cybersecurity.

Eroding UX and Customer Loyalty

No matter what you do to streamline your customer’s online experience, there’s only one common point of entry in every online use case: login and authentication. It’s the common factor that every customer experiences, every time they seek service.

But what used to be a simple matter of entering a password and clicking a mouse has evolved into a series of online games – telling customers you don’t recognize their device, asking whether they’re human, and forcing them to click every square with a motorcycle in it (do the tires count?), not to mention the interruptions to user access caused by enforced password resets.

To be fair, within the realm of credential-based workflows, there are few alternatives that can compare to all that. Because you’re security conscious, your system dutifully enforces strong passwords, timely resets, two-factor authentication (2FA), proof that you’re not a robot, and device identification.

Although security requires it, adding those layers of protection requires more user participation, more clicks, more time and, inevitably, increased cognitive load, frustration, and “password fatigue.”

The Password Problem: A Barrier to Seamless Interaction

To appreciate the contrast between credentialed access biometrics, it’s worth reviewing some of the well-known friction inflicted on customers by password-based systems:

  1. Managing Passwords: With the multitude of digital platforms each requiring unique credentials, it’s no surprise that users often forget their passwords. Even with a password management tool, it’s easy to miss an update, and either way, this only increases the cognitive load on users.
  2. Security Vulnerabilities: Simple passwords are easily hackable, while stronger, more complex ones are hard to remember. It does not help that the majority of users (32%) reuse passwords across 5-10 sites. And in 2022 alone researchers discovered 721.5 million exposed credentials, according to research released by C2A.
  3. Reset Hassles: The process of resetting a password, often involving multiple steps, can frustrate users. What’s more, organizations spend a lot of energy on helping users recover and reset passwords
  4. Inefficiency: Time spent retrieving or resetting passwords affects user productivity and satisfaction.
  5. Support costs: When password recovery and reset procedures go awry, your inbound call and chat volume only increases, diverting CSRs from more productive tasks. However, this scenario changes significantly with the utilization of biometrics, where issues related to password management are minimized, and full use of AI not only streamlines the process but also substantially reduces staffing expenses.

The Future of Authentication is Now

Even without formally measuring the business impact of credential-based hassles, the traditional access by username and password is a relic of the past.

In the digital age, customer convenience is king; forgotten passwords, complex requirements, and frequent resets have become the bane of a seamless user experience.

Enter biometrics – a game-changer in user authentication that promises not only enhanced security but also a vastly improved customer experience.

Biometric technologies leverage the unique physiological or behavioral characteristics for identification. While this can include fingerprints, voice patterns, and retinal scans – those technologies can require specialized hardware – you don’t have to go to such lengths to reap the benefits of biometrics. Three core identification features work with the standard camera hardware on nearly every smartphone and laptop: facial recognition, liveness detection, and identity document character recognition.

Biometric identification is a mashup of proven, mature technologies.

But for companies that don’t require the same level of access protection, the idea of employing biometrics can sound like overkill. Nonetheless, if your customer retention goals are as ambitious as those in the financial sector, it’s crucial not to overlook the valuable UX benefits that biometrics can offer.

But decision makers should understand that the benefits of biometrics extend well-beyond improved security. Biometrics can alleviate most of the hassles your customers associate with password access, providing a dramatically improved service flow.

The Role of Biometrics in Elevating Customer Experience

Let’s take another look at 10 advantages of biometrics with a focus on customer experience benefits.

  1. Simplicity and Speed: Biometric solutions are very natural for users as they can authenticate with a simple glance at the camera or a voice command. No more fumbling with passwords or waiting for OTPs. Even multi-modal verification (using more than one point of id) points of entry are faster overall.
  2. An Unforgettable Face: For many users, looking at a camera is more intuitive and faster than typing a password. You carry your biometric data with you at all times. There’s nothing to forget or misplace. You don’t need to remember complex passwords or PINs, and as your biometric data is unique to you there is no need to ever update.
  3. Universal Application: As biometric technology becomes more widespread, users can expect a unified authentication method across platforms.
  4. Seamless Onboarding: For businesses, the first interaction with a customer is crucial. Biometric systems can streamline the onboarding process, making it quicker and more user-friendly, while also improving the number of conversions for the business.
  5. Instantaneous Access: Whether it’s accessing a banking app or making an online purchase, biometrics can significantly reduce transaction times, leading to a smoother user experience.
  6. Enhanced Trust: Enhancing security enhances trust. Knowing that their data is protected by state-of-the-art biometric systems enhances user trust and also showcases the platform’s dedication to their privacy and security. This bolstered trust leads to a more positive user-platform relationship, driving higher engagement and increased interaction with the platform’s services and features.
  7. Personalization: Biometrics can also play a role in personalized user experiences. For instance, facial recognition can be used to tailor user interfaces or marketing strategies based on the user’s age, gender, or mood.
  8. Reduced Support Costs: Organizations often spend significant resources on password resets and account lockouts. With biometrics, these issues are minimized, leading to reduced support costs.
  9. No Language Barriers: Biometrics don’t have language or literacy barriers, making them universally accessible.
  10. Natural Account Recovery: If a user forgets a password, the recovery process can be cumbersome and potentially insecure. With biometrics, the user’s identity is always “with them.”

The Road Ahead

As biometric technology is already the gold standard for digital authentication, its ongoing evolution and increasing accessibility only serve to solidify its leading position.

For future-facing businesses and users, the adoption of biometrics is already ushering in a new era marked by seamless and secure digital interactions. Looking ahead, the real question is not whether biometrics will overthrow passwords, but rather when we will finally abandon such insecure and easily compromised authentication methods as a string of simple letters and numbers.

For organizations still sitting on the fence over adopting biometrics, casting a critical eye toward the real improvements it can provide to the UX and customer retention, will help you draw a hard line from upgrading to biometrics, straight to your bottom line.