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Digital Body Language: The Value of Behavioral Data

Michelle Jackson | Zach Pitts
Blog Post07/19/2021
Business
Digital Body Language: The Value of Behavioral Data

What is Behavioral Data?
Often called “digital body language,” behavioral data is information derived through an online user’s digital interactions: tapping, typing or swiping information into an online application. It carries indicators and therefore deep insights into users’ true intentions (legitimate or nefarious) and their experiences throughout the customer journey (confusion, frustration, confidence, etc.).

Where does behavioral data come from?
Behavioral data is gathered as a user is interacting with a page, form or website; however, until recent technology was developed, it wasn’t monitored, analyzed or used by most companies. Based on more than a decade of research and discoveries in neuroscience, behavioral data can now be gathered and analyzed to show a user’s current state of mind as they interact with an online application.

Why is gathering and analyzing behavioral data important?
As digital transformation accelerates, many of the human elements of everyday communication are lost. This “digital gap” makes understanding customers across digital channels very challenging.

For example:

It used to be a prospective customer worked with an agent when filling out an insurance policy application. If that customer began referring to documents to fill in basic information like name, address, employer, Social Security number, annual income, or changed answers during the process, the agent would become suspicious and may not actually process the application.

Digitization eliminates the human connection and doesn’t show how applications are filled in. Companies only see the final product and rate it based on the merits of its information. Yet, the applicant could have gathered another person’s data and filled in the application by copying, pasting, editing until they felt  it looked authentic — thus fooling the system. 

On the other hand, a customer may have trouble completing an application simply because it’s confusing or asks for information they don’t feel comfortable sharing early in the process. Previously, the agent would be able to explain and guide the customer through the application process. In today’s uber-digital world, if a customer gets confused or frustrated during the process, it’s not readily apparent, and they may put incorrect information or abandon altogether.

These are familiar examples of why behavioral data can be critical to reducing risk and fraud, and enhancing the user experience. Because how the user interacts with a website is just as important as the final answers they submit.

What is behavioral data used for?
Interpreting and analyzing a user’s behavioral data can uncover many things, including:

  • Intent to commit fraud
  • Genuine vs. fraudulent customers
  • Friction experienced by users throughout the customer journey
  • Customer experience (CX) enhancements
  • Conversion/Drop off issues
  • False declines

Deeper insight into user intent and experience can provide data to assess the performance of fraud systems and customer experience testing, and reveal friction points.

After more than two decades of digital transformation, average conversion rates are still lingering in the single digits. With all the software advancements, A/B testing, NPS scores, fraud detection systems, artificial intelligence and more, conversion from visitor to buyer hasn’t grown proportionally. The lack of true insight into a customer’s intent and experience while visiting a website hasn’t been captured, leaving companies to “best guess” issues and customers looking for better answers.

Online application owners can use behavioral data to:

  • Locate/resolve friction in the customer journey at the session level — question by question on applications or in aggregate
  • Accelerate conversions of genuine customers
  • Identify and reduce fraud
  • Minimize false declines
  • Enhance the customer experience

What about privacy concerns?
Behavioral data requires no personally identifiable information or PII. Even when reviewing data at the session level, the identity of the user isn’t necessary to analyze their intent and experience.

Unlike other forms of data used to track users, fight fraud, improve conversion rates, etc., behavioral data isn’t tied to the user and can be analyzed either in aggregate across a large user base, or at the session level without the need for PII. 

What is a behavior-as-a-service (BaaS) platform?
It helps organizations unlock the value of their behavioral data, turning behavioral activity into genuine user profiles and spotting fraudulent intent. The best Baas platforms have:

  1. Simple installation
  2. Behavioral insights dashboards
  3. Session snapshots
  4. Fraud and conversion attributes

What behavioral data is not.
Behavioral data often gets confused with biometrics — which can be used to authenticate users based on physical characteristics (e.g., fingerprints, iris recognition, hand geometry, DNA, facial recognition and even voice profiles).

Since biometric patterns are unique to a user, they can help validate identities by matching physical attributes to previous interactions. However, biometric data typically doesn’t change, and this set of fixed physical attributes must be stored and is attributed to a single user. Therefore, it can be compromised, stolen and copied.

What's the value of using behavioral data?
Because behavioral data can deliver a one-two punch of functionality regarding fraud concerns and customer experience, it has tremendous value, and it can:

  • Reduce losses due to fraud or the suspicion of fraud. Investing in this data can mean fewer dollars lost to fraud
  • Reduce false positives. The fewer good customers declined due to suspicion of fraud means more customers complete their journey
  • Identify genuine customers. Recognizing customers who are ready to buy streamlines the customer journey
  • Reduce friction. Finding exact areas where customers are hesitant, confused, frustrated, etc., can improve the overall user experience

Bottom line, behavioral data provides a wealth of innate information you can weave into your application, fraud and customer experience strategies. It can help protect your business while enhancing your relationships through better engagement and overall customer journeys — ultimately building trust and long-term loyalty.

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