Malware is extremely dangerous for all victims involved – the business and the customer. Most crucially, it can affect the customer experience. Where third-party pop-ups occur and interrupt the process is where there is an issue created – and it can have dire consequences. This occurrence is known as customer journey hijacking. 

When the customer’s digital journey with your business is disrupted, it diverts them away from your site. Whether the malware is so invasive that it opens up a whole new window on their desktop, or creates seven new tabs on their browser – it doesn’t look good. And the customers won’t feel good about this. 

It happens on your customer’s side within their browser. And although it’s not done as a result of your company’s actions, it will leave a sour taste in their mouths about the experience. It could make them re-think if they even want to return at all. When this happens, it can badly affect both your company and the website’s reputation. Although prevention of customer journey hijacking is difficult, as it can be so easily done, it’s important to be aware of it. 

With this in mind, today’s CXM guide will talk you through everything you need to know about customer journey hijacking, and what you can do to spread awareness and help your customers. Protect your customers’ experiences wherever and however you can. 

What does customer journey hijacking look like?  How to identify when and where it is happening

Let’s start with a typical and more extreme example of this hijacking in the form of a lesser condoned scenario – pirating online media. Although not an ethical or, in some cases, legal practice, 126.7 billion viewings worth of US-produced TV episodes are pirated every year. 

In this, trying to click the ‘play’ button to start watching your film is prevented by unwarranted and irrelevant adverts popping up over your screen. With these disruptive and invasive pop-ups, the original task is made impossible. Then, the customer journey is disrupted and tarnished. 

Other examples include:

  • Product ads 
  • Pop-up offers 
  • Rogue banners 
  • In-text redirection 

As many as 20% of all online shopping sessions are exposed to unauthorised and invasive promotional injections. Unfortunately, however, customer-side activity affected by malicious malware and scams happens outside of a business’ security perimeter. 

On the business side, how can you prevent customer journey hijacking? 

As mentioned, although it is outside business hands, there are ways to help your customer navigate journey hijacking cases. A key one is in spreading awareness. 

Although not often widely discussed, it happens often. I’m sure at some point, you’ve been redirected to a website that has disruptive, irrelevant, and distracting advertisement banners. Or clicked a link from a reputable source, hoping to get more information, only to see a scammer paywall. 

It is more common than you think. So why are we not making each other more aware of it? If you make a conscious effort to let your customers know that this is a possibility, and not something you endorse or have control of, you will only stay in their good books. 

While it will save your reputation on their end (as they’ll know it’s not done by your company), they’ll also probably be grateful that you’ve warned them. It shows that you care about them, their journeys, and their experiences. 

In making them aware of the issue, there are also some small-scale prevention methods you can share with them. Although these won’t completely eradicate customer journey hijacking, they can minimise the scale and damage. Here’s some of the advice you can hand out to your customers:

Be vigilant about sharing your OTPs (One Time Password) 

If you’re not familiar with them, OTPs are unique passwords sent to an alternative source or device to what you’re trying to log on to. These passwords, as the name suggests, can only be used once. This will verify that you are the sole user of the information you’re trying to access.

At the heart of this prevention method is in your customers ensuring they’re protecting their data. In the conversation of customer journey hijacking, comes the scarier threat of cybercrime and scams. Often, fraudsters, especially if they disrupt your journey with malicious intent, will lure you in with false promises. 

For example, scammers could infiltrate a company website with a pop-up saying a customer’s account has been comprised and needs to change their password and use an OTP to continue. If this succeeds, the scammer can trick your customers into dangerous territory of cybercrime – thefts of information, or even money in extreme cases. 

To help your customers avoid this, warn them to be vigilant and take a second to question these pop-ups before giving away information. They should question:

  • Does this pop-up or website advert look like a legitimate message from the brand I am currently using? 
  • Is this something this brand would endorse or agree with? 
  • Am I currently logged in to this page? If not, why would this pop-up need my information, and how would they know my account has been compromised?

Two-factor authorisation 

This is an extra secondary layer of protection to ensure account security beyond just a password. Encouraging your customers to set this up can prevent malicious malware and scammers from accessing their account. If this happens, customer journey hijacking can occur. 

OTPs are an example of another measure of authorisation. Though for this, provide the previous advice alongside this authorisation method! Protect your customers on all sides. 

Some other examples of two-factor authorisation include:

  • Answering a secret question they set up prior 
  • Biometrics (fingerprints or face ID)
  • YubiKey – physical hardware authentication device to protect access to computers and networks

Prevent customer journey hijacking through highlighting how it happens 

To help your customers, as in any business strategy, the best course of action is to communicate with them. To warn them of customer journey hijacking, help them out and open their eyes to it. If you provide answers and solutions, they know they can rely on you. 

Rather than having the customer journey hijacking affecting their reputation and relationship with your company, if they’re already aware because of your guidance, they will be grateful to you. And these harmful pop-ups can occur anywhere on the internet, not just on business and customer pages. If you’re educating them and building their defence against malicious malware, you can protect their online safety and experiences. Everyone wins here.

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