5 Reasons Single Sign-on Is an Online Billing and Payment Must-Have

May 24, 2013 Brian Watson

How online billing and payment is like a cheesburgerBest-class online billing and payment applications are a lot like world-class cheeseburgers.

Now as analogies go, that might seem like a stretch.  But let me explain.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a burger lover.  And over the years I’ve sampled a ton of different variations.  But when I make a list of my all-time favorites, the top spot is usually reserved for a local chain of burger joints that’s laser-focused on that one dish in particular. 

Want a great chicken sandwich?  Wrong restaurant.  Your options are purposefully limited: burgers, fries and hot dogs.  That’s it.  And out of that specialization, the restaurant has succeeded in creating a cheeseburger that – for my money – is truly world-class.

Okay, so you’re probably still asking yourself what my epicurean passion has to do with online billing and payment.  Or maybe: what the heck is single sign-on and what does it have to do with cheeseburgers?

On Cheeseburgers, User Account Software and Specialization

The common denominator is specialization. 

My favorite cheeseburger is the result of one restaurant owner setting out to come up with a truly great burger - other food options be damned.  Another restaurant can master barbeque, or omelettes, or cheese-steak sandwiches.  Or offer a jam-packed smorgasbord of a menu.  That’s okay.  They’ll gladly stick to their guns: doing cheeseburgers – and doing them really well.

That same kind of focus can be found in many companies that offer the best billing and payment applications.  Or online banking software.  Or customer account management tools.

Instead of being merely adequate at a lot of stuff, these companies have chosen to cast a narrow focus on a key piece of online software – something at which they can excel and offer a truly best-class product.

There is, however, a sticking point in that kind of software specialization: integration.  Offering consumers an online account management experience that’s streamlined and feature-rich can be a real differentiator for businesses.  But all the tools in your online toolbox have to work together… seamlessly.  Customers simply won’t go for multiple logins, tons of passwords or several redirects.

That’s where a single sign-on approach can help.

What Is Single Sign-On?  And How Can It Streamline Online Billing and Payment?

If you’re like most businesses, you probably already offer at least one online account management application.  But, in light of the integration challenges cited above, adding additional software can be tricky.

For online billing and payment, that’s led many businesses to postpone going all-in on an EBPP strategy.  Or by only offering customers access to a stripped-down, feature-poor application, like payment with enrollment.

But there is a better, easier way to link together multiple independent user account management applications.

Single sign-on (SSO) is a user authentication system that enables your various portals to “talk” to each other in order to verify a customer’s identity.  User log-in information is retrieved, authenticated and stored using an advanced programatical interface.

With SSO, users only have to sign in once to receive access to all the various online account management tools you offer. 

No juggling password.  No being asked to sign-in each time a user floats from online tool to online tool.  And no multiple sign-outs either: single sign-off provides simultaneous, one-click user sign-out from each of your online apps.

The EBPP Benefits of Single Sign-On

• It’s Seamless

The beauty of single sign-on?  Your customers get the benefit of the best tools for account management – whether it’s for web banking, appointment scheduling, managing electronic medical records or online billing and payment – while avoiding the hassles of having to sign on each time they click through to a new app.

• Customer Data Stays Fresh

As part of the SSO authentication process, current billing and payment data is delivered electronically to the EBPP system each time a customer logs on to the system.  That’s different than with traditional non-SSO applications, where customer account information is refreshed only when an account master batch file (containing all customer records) are periodically received.  The result is that, with SSO, customer data will always be at its freshest and most up-to-date.

• It Limits Password Fatigue

Hate coming up with and remembering passwords?  You’re not alone.  According to a 2012 Jainrain survey, 38% of adults think it’s easier to solve word peace than remember all their passwords.  And while that’s (obviously) a little dramatic, it’s still indicative of the scorn most people have for the process.  Single sign-on keeps things simple by making your customers remember just one password to access all your online user account management tools.

• Reduces Service Costs

That same Jainrain survey reported 37% of respondents had to ask for help to remember a username or password at least once a month.  That requires the attention of your service staff.  And it’s a courtesy that can quickly become costly.  SSO doesn’t completely alleviate the lost-password problem, but one username and password is certainly easier for your customers to remember than 3 or 4.

• And Is Clean, Simple and Easy to Manage

A single sign-on interface fits snugly into most business’ existing web infrastructure in a way that stand alone applications struggle to match.  Having a bunch of links to independent log-in pages can be a nightmare from a web usability standpoint.  Customers often struggle to track down the specific application they’re looking for.  And it’s no easy task to create a functional, user-friendly homepage design when you have to incorporate all those tools into site navigation.  SSO can help you offer the best user account tools, all in a single, unified, easy-to-access-and-use system.

Interested in learning more about single sign-on and how it can help enhance the all-important usability-factor of your online billing and payment approach?  Click here to schedule a free ElitePay EBPP demo today!

Are you an SSOer?  Operate online account management silos?  Or prefer one all-encompassing application?  Tell us your preferred approach in the comments section below.

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