Front is Innovating User Experiences—From the Inside Out
reduction in deprovisioning time per user
increase in onboarding speed and efficiency
reduction in time needed for provisioning
Okta helps us have a highly efficient IT organization and avoid panicking when we grow. We're working on building for the future.
Greg Karp-Neufeld, Director of Corporate IT
For any organization, regardless of size or industry, intelligent response to customers is critical to success. And for sectors like transportation, logistics, and financial services, thoughtful communication is a lifeline. So, for Front, giving teams the ability to scale exceptional service is their raison d'être—with a human touch.
Front enables teams to centralize and route customer communications and gives businesses visibility into the thoughts and needs of every customer. By reimagining how companies can work together to resolve customer requests, they’re flipping “customer service” into something with a bit more power: a customer operations platform. Founded from startup, SaaS origins, Front has a growing workforce, worldwide.
Bringing that customer experience in-house
With customer experiences as the foundation for Front, a stellar employee experience was critical as they grew and evolved. Gaining big wins meant improving their IT efficiency, and doing that successfully meant abandoning the basic IAM tools they’d employed over the years. They needed to adopt a robust, flexible Identity strategy. So, when a new IT team was hired to tackle these problems, they solved them with Okta.
When Greg Karp-Neufeld and Philip van Reijn joined the company, Front used a competitor IAM. Despite having an Identity solution, provisioning still required a patchwork of manual processes and homegrown scripts built by long-gone employees. But both newcomers brought years of experience implementing Okta at previous companies.
“We wanted to prepare for the company's projected growth,” says Karp-Neufeld. “Okta was a mature product that could enhance the entire Identity life cycle, doing much more than just providing single sign-on”. As a result, the Front team quickly turned to Okta Workflows,a no-code identity automation and orchestration platform. As Karp-Neufeld explains, “With Okta Workflows for customizing onboarding, offboarding, and alerts, it offered us control and functionality. Okta played a significant role in streamlining our IT operations”.
Replacing the IAM competitor with Okta empowered the team to address multiple end-user problems. Okta helped reduce ticket response times and provide safe yet frictionless access to every resource. Yet another win, not to be discounted, was a significant reduction in account lockout tickets. “Since rolling out Okta, of our 300+ users, we’ve only logged a handful of tickets supporting account lockouts.” Overall, “Everyone gets the luxury of a highly efficient IT organization at startup costs,” says Karp-Neufeld.
Day one as the ultimate test
On day one of a new job, what’s more telling of IT processes than your onboarding experience? As the new Director of Corporate IT, Karp-Neufeld made himself a new-hire guinea pig. His experience highlighted a critical problem: “It was very disjointed. I was emailed an initial sign-in password, followed by other setups and MFA instructions. The whole process took so long, I almost missed my first meeting.” Onboarding could take 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the day and work volume.
Now with Okta, Karp-Neufeld and team have made the onboarding process 50 and 70 percent faster: “If you have a good internet connection, you'll be up and running in less than 15 minutes, with access to the systems you need. Okta made it much faster,” Karp-Neufeld says.
But what about that last day of work? Simply deactivating a user at 5 PM is no longer enough. Offboarding needs to be quick, but with some thought around the user experience: “We want users to have restricted access to a few apps, with more restrictions that follow. Workflows allows us to remove users from sensitive systems but keep them in Slack for farewells and critical handoffs. Okta has played a significant role in streamlining these operations”, says van Reijn. Even with this “humane approach,” the process for deprovisioning a user has been reduced by 90%. The old process was a manual patchwork that typically took 30-45 minutes per user.
Efficiency for all
But in those early days, provisioning from an IT perspective wasn’t much better. Senior IT Tools Engineer van Reijn faced a lot of manual processes. Provisioning users was a manual, multi-step process reliant on outdated scripts written in Python. Far from user-friendly, the scripts were complex, and the language was unfamiliar to everyone on the current team, leaving them open to serious delays if updates were needed. Van Reijn knew his solution had to be automated and easily transferable, but Workflows satisfied both. “We have 49 active Workflows, all visual, and multiple people can access them.”
Tasked with facilitating the “rip and replace” needed to implement Okta, van Reijn saw clear mandates around efficiencies and scaling for growth. Scaling meant boosts in users and the apps they were using. Says van Reijn, “At the time of the switch, we had 50 apps to migrate to Okta. Now, we're already at 110 apps,” But by employing features like FastPass and Workflows, the team deployed Okta within three months, reducing IT turnaround times for provisioning by 100%.
And that old Python script? “We’ve replaced it with around 10 individual workflows”, says van Reijn. “We can automatically activate users on their hire date. We have different workflows for Europe and the US and can send lifecycle alerts to HR to track user staging, activation, and deactivation. It helps us ensure that everything is happening as expected and avoid the errors of those old, manual processes.”
Another efficiency pain point? Compliance. But Okta reporting made audits smoother. “We are confident that the upcoming SOC 2 audit will be much easier with Okta's centralized provisioning”, says van Reijn.
For Front, having a single platform has addressed a multitude of efficiency use cases on both sides of the organization—IT and end-users. Solving these old process problems has left van Reijn and his team open to new focus areas, exploring innovations like conditional access and authentication policies.
The future is streamlined
From day one, the Front IT team aimed to increase organizational efficiencies and boost employee satisfaction. But they also succeeded in doing something more: a sea change in how their team was perceived and appreciated. Moving to Okta highlighted the value of SSO for the entire organization, with users seeing it as more than just an IT task they’re required to do. “They realized it was easy to use and helpful, and they started requesting more Okta-enabled apps. This shift in perception was a big factor in our success around scaling our resources,” says Karp-Neufeld.
And as a serial beta customer, the future for Front includes testing the possibilities of Okta Identity Governance (OIG). The team plans to leverage OIG to become even more efficient, creating an app store for employees and managing resource access based on group membership. “We aim to create a self-service experience for employees to reduce access requests and approve certain plugins. If we can automate as much as possible, it makes things easier for everyone.”
But the ultimate goal? Streamline every process and empower employees. “Okta helps us have a highly efficient IT organization and avoid panicking when we grow.” says Karp-Neufeld, “We're working on building for the future.”
Front is a customer operations platform that enables support, sales, and account management teams to deliver exceptional service at scale. Front streamlines customer communication by combining the efficiency of a help desk and the familiarity of email, with automated workflows and real-time collaboration behind the scenes.
With Front, teams can centralize messages across channels, route them to the right person, and unlock visibility and insights across all of their customer operations. More than 8000 businesses use Front to drive operational efficiency that prevents churn, improves retention, and propels customer growth.