I am getting old and grumpy – and therefore noticing more and more annoying problems in the world. One of them being that almost every single company and system has their own concept of identifying the customer — and in many cases you can’t find the id with a more common identifier you have in your memory — email, social security number, avatar name, most commonly used nickname or whatever.
This was reminded once again, when I registered to the frequent traveler club of finnish railways, but the same problem is with frequent flyer clubs, frequent traveler clubs of hotel chains, loyalty programs and so on. You either need to learn cumbersome identifiers, carry frequent flyer / traveller / member -clubcards with you.
Some companies are selecting a bit more smarter route and besides their internal identifiers either allow the end user to use their own identifiers — or from the start they use some identifiers that are easy to remember and use, for example your mostly used email. Then your password or passphrase is the only thing that you really need to remember.
If you need to individually remember both your identity you can’t choose yourself and password or passphrase, what does it mean?
Well for me at least it means:
1) I need to write both of them down somewhere – and keep them with me
2) I don’t use the service / services at all
Number one is naturally a threat to my data security. In some cases that is a real threat and could cause major complications elsewhere, and in some cases it even wouldn’t be a nuisance if someone could see that I have purchased a specific pair of custom made shoes. But this post is not about data security.
Number two is actually more important implication from the business perspective.
If you make your services cumbersome for me to use, I will use competitors’ services and am more inclined to also try other services. Your investments in online services and loyalty programs do not create rewards, if they do not make being loyal also easy.
For me, it would be big improvement already – if I could choose my own identifier / identity, which to use when logging in to the service.
I am an identity, not a number!