Biometric technology has already advanced in such a way that your identity can now unknowingly be detected with the help of face recognition but also based on the patterns of your veins or your voice. However, successful applications have one thing in common: they are designed from the user’s needs and not from the possibilities of the technology.
Biometrics are being increasingly used in everyday life; a car door that opens when the owner’s walk is recognized to registering pain by looking at a patient’s face in the hospital or paying your chicken wings by literally showing your face at KFC.
Whether this kind of biometric applications will be successful is largely determined by the user-friendliness. When you ask your customer to give sensitive information, you’ll have to solve a problem in a frictionless way, otherwise no one will give his or her data. However, we often still see in projects that the emphasis is on the technology and, by extension, the legal and safety aspects. The ease of use lags behind while the main question should be: how does the technology add value to the consumer and are they prepared to use it?
Practical example: Traveling using biometric authentication
We’ve gained experience in aviation with the development of biometric solutions using the principles of service design thinking. Airports work with the same basic idea: the traveler undeniably allows himself to be identified and screed by the authorities at the Airport. When nothing strange emerges, the passenger gets the status of a ‘well-known’ traveler. However, this data is stored only for a limited time and isn’t shared beyond the security personnel. The traveler thus has control of his digital identity and decides for himself who may view that information during the process at the airport. Therefore, only the necessary information is shared. For example, the border police need all the details on your passport, but the airline or the future receptionist of the hotel where you check in would only need your name and date of birth. Abuse of personal data is therefore reduced.
There are more advantages to this approach: authorities that are authorized to do this can perform better risk analyzes, the identity of the traveler can be easily verified and he goes through the entire process with the least amount of hassle. And all that without the personal data being stored longer than strictly necessary for that one trip.
6 factors that increase the chance of acceptance and success
You would think this is the perfect use case of biometric technology, but there is much more needed than a good story if you want to persuade the consumer to use such a biometric solution. From our practical experience we see six factors that reduce the chance of failure and increase the acceptance of certain advanced technology:
1. Consider the privacy of the consumer
Awareness has been set in motion by the new privacy rules (GDPR). This means that you need to be very transparent not only from the letter of the law but also from the wants and desires of the consumer about what data you use and for how long you save it. What you deliver must be in good proportion to what the customer will receive. In the case of identification at airports, the data are only stored to a limited extent and are only used at the monitoring moments.
2. Implement a double system
You always need an opt-in from customers. That means in practice you need to implement a double system — one with and one without the biometric technology being used. Offering a choice means that you get a faster acceptance of the biometric option — people find it reassuring that they can always go back to the old situation.
3. Give users a sense of security
The biometric process can be conducted without visible control points. But for the users it feels good that they stop at a fixed point and see the message that their identity has been established. After all, this means that suspicious individuals also have to undertake a physical barrier and that give most passengers a peace of mind regarding their safety than the invisible controls. In this case, the concept of ‘less is more’ is not a good idea because your passengers will feel insecure and unsettled.
4. Take into account different groups of travelers
The concept of the ‘well-known’ traveler is based on an individual. But in practice people travel with others, whether it is with other family members, a significant other, colleagues or friends. Biometric identification only works with people over the age of 13. Should children travel separately because they are not eligible for the biometric route? This type of question requires you to determine per group what the best route is and which can be used flexibly.
5. Think of the complete journey (wayfinding)
If you implement the technology at one point it will have an impact on other points in the journey. To qualify for the biometric route, you must meet a number of criteria. They must be clearly communicated so that people do not stand in the wrong line (wayfinding). In addition, you must clearly indicate where facial recognition is applied so that people who do not want it can stay away from it.
6. Ensure that you involve all stakeholders in the process
At airports you have to deal with many different stakeholders who are all needed to streamline the travel process, such as the airport itself, government agencies, airlines and security companies. The success of a biometric solution is to a large extent determined by the degree of involvement of those different stakeholders.
If we had only focused on the possibilities of biometric technology, the above pain points would not have been discovered. With the help of service design thinking you can move to focusing on a user perspective and map the pain points of the process. Service design is therefore not an ‘afterthought’ but a prerequisite for success in projects with biometric technology and other advanced technology.