Simple Ways to Verify a Customer’s Identity

It would be nice if we lived in a world where you could take everyone at face value. Unfortunately, that’s not the place we call home. And if you want to ensure your customers are who they say they are, you need to be purposeful in how you verify them during the onboarding process.

The “What” and “Why” of Customer Verification

When it comes to determining if a customer is who they say they are, there’s a gradual progression that takes place. While different companies use different labels, it usually looks like the following:

Identification → Verification → Authentication

The bookends of the process are identification and authentication. Identification is the process of collecting information on a customer to, quite literally, identify who that person is. (During the identification process, you take the customer at their word.) Authentication is where the customer is approved and fully integrated into your ecosystem.

It’s the step in the middle – verification – that’s so critically important. It’s this part of the process that validates onboarding and prepares the way for smoother authentication.

Historically speaking, customer verification hasn’t been much of an issue. Identification and verification happened simultaneously. But with the rise of the internet and the increase in remote application and approval processes, the business landscape has become ripe for fraud. Verification cuts down on this risk and creates more predictability and more accurate authentication.

5 Identity Verification Tips

Want to streamline customer verification and make it an easy process that supports your larger business objectives (rather than slows you down)? Here are a few helpful tips:

  1. Make it Easy

The first step is to make things as simple as possible. A customer doesn’t want to jump through a bunch of hoops or navigate a complex process, even if it means making them safe. All they see in the moment is friction. And friction is the last thing they want when trying to access an account, complete a registration, or perform another necessary function.

How do you make verification easier? Start with finding methods of verification and authentication that require the minimal amount of information. Two-factor verification, where a short code is sent to the user’s smartphone, is a great example.

  1. Make it Fast

Speed is closely connected to ease. Customers do not want to wait in order to be verified. Even a 30- or 60-second wait for an email confirmation is considered an unwanted delay in today’s fast-paced, on-demand culture.

One example of fast verification is the Single Sign On (SSO) feature that many businesses use on their websites these days. It allows users to create an account and have all of their information verified instantaneously by leveraging their existing accounts with platforms like Google, Microsoft, or Facebook.

  1. Make it Convenient

Part of customer verification is notifying users when there’s certain activity related to their account. Giving users the option to choose the verification method that’s most convenient to them increases speed of confirmation and strengthens trust.

Some customers prefer an automated SMS alert that lets them know a purchase has been made on their account. Other customers would prefer an email that tells them a new login has been detected. The more control you provide customers over what they see and how it’s presented, the fewer issues there will be.

  1. Make it Secure

For high-growth businesses who are onboarding thousands of customers per week or month, it’s necessary to have a highly secure platform that automates customer verification without compromising on the security front. One recommendation is to work with an identification verification service to eliminate manual involvement and reduce onboarding friction that threatens to hurt your first impression with new customers.

  1. Make it Logical

Finally, it’s important that your customers understand why they’re being verified. Otherwise they’re prone to see it as a nuisance, rather than something that protects them from being compromised.

You don’t have to go overboard with educating people on the mission behind your customer verification processes, but it does help to provide some timely explanations and quick, digestible content tied to verification FAQs. (If nothing else, it’ll save you from unnecessary back and forth between customers and your service department.)

Putting it All Together

In order to remain compliant with regulatory bodies and best serve your market, you must verify that your customers are who they say they are. And with the right solutions in place, you can streamline this process so that it becomes simple, accurate, and frictionless.

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