Caleb McKee

How to delight subscribers with a secure user experience

How to delight subscribers with a secure user experience

An exceptional user experience is more important to smart home cybersecurity than you might think; research shows that two-thirds of mobile purchases are abandoned due to poor usability and frustration with design. As Minim's CMO Nicole Zheng explained at CES’s panel on building the new home service bundle back in January, the ISPs who get it right will start delivering value-added services that meet the subscribers’ need for control, convenience, and usability in 2021. A key component of this will be delivering an exceptional user experience with a stellar out-of-the-box experience and access to more robust security features. For service providers, this means striking the right balance between security and usability will help earn subscriber trust, ultimately inspiring more engagement and loyalty for your service. 

The pitfalls of poor UX design 

Contrary to the idealistic phrase "never judge a book by its cover," users can form a design opinion in as little as 17 milliseconds and they're likely to have high expectations for the products connecting their homes. A simple and smooth product interaction combined with easily recognizable security can make an incredible difference in inspiring customer engagement, but a negative user experience can be equally as unforgettable. As Jacqueline Carter from Info Security Magazine writes:

“Poor UX carries far more severe consequences than bad taste and an odd color palette. A site that responds poorly to the user and barely functions looks fundamentally the same as a site intended for phishing. Phishing attempts, or attempts to gain coveted data through faux messaging, commonly resemble those sites that look thrown together in a back alley on a dare.”

If a user can't understand a product interface or setup, how are they able to trust they can find an alert if a security issue arises? As you can see, a poor user experience creates stress and anxiety where peace of mind should be. 

But this also means starting a pleasing user interface can begin building trust almost immediately. Moreover, it makes sure people are using products as intended. Making a product easy to use helps prevent users from avoiding security features, like how Kanye West avoided making a secure password because it was much easier to spam zeroes into his phone. Undoubtedly, Apple's Face ID functionality has made  accessing your phone much less complicated and even more secure than a simple password, attracting a wide range of users.

Security vs User Experience: What users expect

Some have worried that security and user experience are in conflict with each other, thinking that security measures are time-consuming, complicated, or work against the user's desire for a frictionless process. The idea is that the added security can demotivate a user from continuing with a product, but this doesn't appear to be the case. A positive user experience must include feelings of security and confidence in a product, especially now that each generation of users is becoming increasingly tech savvy.

Younger users have seen the consequences of ignoring security and have started to adopt certain features as common practice. For example, users between 18-34 years old are twice as likely to use 2 factor authentication to login to their online accounts compared to users who are 55 or over. This same research shows that while only 44% of users understood two-factor authentication in 2017, that statistic shot to 77% in 2019. It's safe to say 2 factor authentication has now become a de facto standard in gaining users' trust.

Secure user experience isn't exclusively desired by young users, however. 62% of users 55 and older expressed concerns about entering their credit card information into online forms compared to their younger counterparts. But a simplistic and streamlined security feature can act as a teachable moment for the more mature audience, communicating to them the value of the protection you offer. This demographic wants to feel safe using technology products that they didn't grow up using, and offering streamlined security that is simple to use and easy to understand can help establish a necessary foundation of trust.

For service providers, this means supplying users with the tools they need to feel secure at their level of understanding. Many subscribers may not recognize the  general vulnerabilities of their own IoT devices like leaving default passwords or using outdated software, for example. By offering additional network management software that alerts them of vulnerabilities, you’re helping users mitigate problems they didn’t even know they had. This can go a long way in  building long-lasting trust and brand loyalty. 

Good User Experience

There are a lot of great tips on how to create an experience that empowers a user in a product, and they all come from a humanistic approach. You want your user's goals to drive decisions about the product journey. Some tips to keep in mind according to UX Magazine are:

  • Users share things that appeal to their senses, because things that look and feel better are better.
  • Help users avoid, fix, and recover gracefully from mistakes.
  • Never promise more than you can deliver. Instead, aim to deliver more than users expect.

Starting off with a visually appealing design that's both clear and concise can ensure that your product is going to have a delightful first impression. Following the design, users will start looking for functionality, where the goal is to overachieve and exceed users' expectations.

Prioritizing product ideas and functions using the MoSCow Method helps to create clarity between teams in the product's vision. This method breaks product functions into categories: Must-haves, Should-haves, Could-haves, and Won't-haves. The Must-haves help communicate your minimum viable product while Should-haves and Could-haves build value in a product outside of its core functionality. Won't-haves keep a team from adding in features that carry a product too far out of its scope of intended use.

Considering 39% of United States respondents in a 2019 State of the Auth Report stated they are worried about hackers gaining access to their accounts, security should not be an afterthought. But there's an ideal balance between usability and security that will make user interaction feel natural. It's not about adding as many different padlocks to the proverbial door as possible; it's about how many locks the proverbial door needs to be both safe and functional. After all, what good is the safest home possible if you end up locking yourself out of it?

Outsourcing for a secure user experience: One ISP’s story

There's nothing wrong with relying on experts to create a solid user experience for you. In fact, this is a great way to differentiate your service with value-added solutions. Entrusting a company that's well-versed in pleasing users can save you time and money, strengthen your brand identity, and allow your users feel more secure.

For example, KPU Telecommunications, a cable provider in Alaska, made the decision to bundle Minim into their service offering as an upgrade for their 5,000 subscribers. This meant that they were now delivering a whole home connectivity experience with usable network control and security features made available to subscribers via the Minim® Mobile app. To their delight, KPU not only experienced the operational benefits Minim provides, like reduced truck rolls and support calls, but they’ve also seen overall subscriber satisfaction jump by 11% since bolstering their subscriber experience with Minim. 

Users want to have their voices heard, their concerns understood, and their insecurities resolved. Inspiring a user to love your product begins with designing an experience that shows you care about their time and safety. No one cares what you know until they know how much you care. Embodying simplicity, usability, security, and efficiency will bring you another step closer to winning over those lasting relationships with your users.

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