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07 March 2018

4 ways to improve customer engagement in retail – without using an emoji

Profile photo for Marcus Idle - Head of CIAM.
Written by Marcus Idle

Perhaps the only thing more bewildering for retailers than the unsympathetic pace of digital disruption is the advent of the term ‘customer engagement’.

Isn’t that what your marketing department refer to when they insist that half a week of posting emojis on Twitter is vital for business?

Customers expect a seamless experience

A recent study showed that 59.6% of respondents find it easy to defect from a retailer. The biggest opportunity digital transformation created in retail was for the consumer: the freedom to be disloyal. With the same study claiming retailers would lose £120.6 billion if all dissatisfied customers abandoned them, it’s clear that the entire sales process needs to be re-evaluated; and that engagement goes far deeper than a well-crafted tweet.

Here are four ways the latest technologies can help to keep your customers engaged:

1. Single sign-on

25% of respondents forget a password at least once a day, and one-third suffer from ‘password rage’.

Our lives are online. We don’t just shop online; we head there to be entertained, to manage our finances, to socialise, to fall out… in fact, I’d struggle to get a GP appointment without 4G! As a result, we are expected to recall usernames and passwords for all manner of accounts, subscriptions and memberships.

The truth is, many of us can’t. At least not safely.

If your customers aren’t turning into Lou Ferrigno with rage, the chances are they’ve resorted to replicating login credentials across multiple accounts, which puts them at risk of becoming yet another cyber-crime victim.

Enabling single sign-on means your customers only need to remember one set of credentials. They’ll appreciate the gesture, especially if they are trying to follow the National Cyber Security Centre’s official advice to use three random words in every password.

It also means they can move between your apps without the frustration of having to sign in again or remember yet another set of credentials.

2. Social login

A powerful customer identity and access management solution will allow you to take it one step further.

With over 32 million UK users of Facebook alone – over 70% of which log in to use the site daily – you can probably say with some certainty that a large proportion of your own customer base is using social media.

“Have you ever forgotten your Facebook password?”

At the same time, data from SaleCycle (The Remarketing Report) in May 2016 showed cart abandonment rate at an alarming 74.3%, illustrating how easily shoppers are dissuaded from purchasing if your check-out process is too long or complicated.

Giving your customers the option to use social accounts, or even those they use to login to Amazon, provides familiarity and convenience. You will remove a significant barrier to completing a purchase if your customer doesn’t have to fill in another set of forms, or remember another set of credentials.

Honestly, have you ever forgotten your Facebook password?

Watch now – The magic behind external identity management

Watch now – The magic behind external identity management

Transform the way you provide access to your customers, partners and suppliers. Watch on-demand and learn:

  • The key differences between Azure AD B2B and B2C
  • How to sign in any user from your identity provider of choice
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3. Unified brand experience

Mobile devices have invaded and they are multiplying in all shapes and sizes.

Customers will continue to search for more choice, on more devices, and using more channels, as they navigate haphazardly on the path to purchase. At whatever touchpoint they interact with your company, they’ll expect a consistent, integrated experience. But this is absolutely critical when they are providing sensitive information or feel their data is more likely to be at risk.

If 44.3% will defect if you annoy them (The Unfaithful Consumer Report – Web Loyalty), then imagine the figure if there are inconsistencies during the sign-up, sign in or password reset experience.

From brand colours to messaging, you need to ensure every screen meets the expectations of your customer and helps to reinforce your credentials as a trustworthy company to deal with.

4. Secure authentication

And, let’s be honest, there’s no better way to build trust than by showing you take the protection of your customer data seriously.

PwC found that two-thirds of respondents worry about data protection on the internet (Total Retail 2016), with passwords (49.9%), emails (45.5%) and usernames (37.7%) holding the top 3 spots in the most stolen data types for 2015.

Enabling single sign-on and social accounts helps to mitigate the risk of stolen credentials.

Technologies such as Microsoft Azure AD B2C provide extra layers of security that your customers will appreciate, with features such as policy-based multi-factor authentication.


As brand loyalty dissipates, and conversion rates continue to decline, the need to keep customers engaged has grown in importance for retailers – and not just on Twitter.

Optimising the customer journey at every stage is critical. This means simplifying the sign-in process, reassuring customers with a consistent brand experience, and gaining trust that sensitive data is secure.

Thankfully, it’s never been more achievable, with cloud providers like Microsoft offering affordable, scalable cloud platforms to manage your customers’ identities with ease.

Next, download our free e-Guide and discover how retailers are using Microsoft’s technologies to thrive in the age of online shopping. Also, watch B2C customer experiences in action in our on-demand webinar.

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Profile photo for Marcus Idle - Head of CIAM.

About Marcus Idle

Head of CIAM and IP Development

Marcus Idle is our Head of External Identity. Expert in Microsoft’s Azure AD B2B and B2C technologies, Marcus is passionate about bringing cloud and external identity to life to solve business...


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