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What does single sign-on have to do with customer experience?

This post first appeared on LinkedIn, published by Kane Barton, Account Manager, Kiandra IT

Far too often, I encounter this scenario with new potential clients:

    • Your company has a culture that is obsessive about its customers – CHECK
    • Your company understands the importance of a great customer experience – CHECK
    • Your company has identified a gap in the market, and have kicked off a process to find a new app or service that you know your customers will fall in love with – CHECK
    • Your company has essentially selected an application but in order to comply with procurement guidelines requires you to go to market with an EOI/RFQ/RFP to compare costs – CHECK

So it comes as no surprise to me that clients get sucked into falling in love with an application – either a Software as a Service (SaaS) or commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) product. On the surface what is not to love? These products offer a wide array of useful (and not so useful) features, their cost seems to be within the project budget, they offer slick videos that mostly align to the problem statement and there is plenty of healthy competition. But, like most things in life there is a catch. The catch is that the product or service may negatively impact your customer experience.

“Wait, we obsess over our customers and their experience,” I hear you confidently stating.

Sorry but you are mistaken, and here is why. Almost every commercial system (SaaS, web or desktop) will want to control the user authentication and authorisation mechanism — limiting the ability for single sign-on (SSO).

SSO is an essential element of the customer experience. SSO makes life easier for your users as passwords and user accounts are essentially eliminated, allowing them seamless and secure access to your application. When users start forgetting their passwords, it is common for your help desk to be flooded with requests — increasing unplanned costs. Of more concern is when credentials float around unsecured and unmonitored, creating potential vulnerabilities in your application.

Personally, I have several different products with the same Australian based superannuation company. When I need to access different parts of their service, I am required to repeatedly enter my credentials. While I totally get the need for tough love when it comes to cyber security, I suspect this implementation has more to do with a lack of SSO rather than security awareness. If only the application had SSO built in from the start, I would be a much happier customer 🙁

While some solutions offer variants of active directory integration, in today’s cloud centric world this does not necessarily make SSO achievable. An extremely high percentage of companies have, at some point, embarked on a project (or two) to implement SSO — sometimes costing millions of dollars!

Working as part of a company that builds custom software this seems crazy to me. Why not simply bake SSO into the core of the application. Removing these types of problems (using technologies like OpenID and OAuth) and saving my clients big money by developing software correctly from the start, is something that genuinely excites me about working here at Kiandra.

Specialist identity management services like Okta , Stormpath, Elastic SSO or Auth0 are at the forefront of SSO innovation and offer almost everything you could be looking for. These services take SSO to a whole new level – Auth0 is my personal favourite. Almost every new proposal I am involved with has some or all of the Auth0 services included. As well as being a huge timesaver, the Auth0 services are insanely good, super extensible and competitively priced.

So, if you are serious about your customer experience and are obsessive over your customers, then please increase the importance your company places on single sign-on when making your next software choice.