A complicated login process
Before Okta, customers of Mazars Netherlands, a multi-faceted organization that specializes in accountancy, tax and consultancy, had to navigate four different web apps to access all their Mazars services. Separate usernames and passwords and a lack of self-service password recovery created a frustrating customer experience and increased the IT department’s workload.
Bridging the gaps
Mazars decided to revamp the customer experience with a new customer-facing platform called Mazars Signals. The platform would gather all its customers’ information under one umbrella, easing the sign-on process and giving Mazars better visibility. It would also help Mazars provide customers with customized information and simplify the application process.
Choosing the right vendor
After looking at three different vendors, Mazars chose Okta for its open platform and APIs. These features allowed Mazars to fully customize the portal to reflect its brand, set up its own provisioning rules, and increase the flexibility and scalability of its technology infrastructure.
A successful transition
Mazars customers were thrilled with the results once the Okta Identity Cloud was deployed. Thanks to Single Sign-On, they were finally able to easily access all the information they wanted in one place—and reset their own passwords. Helpdesk calls dropped by 80 to 90%, significantly reducing IT’s workload and costs. Ultimately, Mazars has provided their customers with an experience that’s both convenient and secure.
We chose Okta for its open platform with an API stack we could tap into. This makes it very simple for our customers to log on and do their own password resets. We could add our own look-and-feel, and customize our provisioning process. The other two competitors we looked at weren't capable of doing that.Frank Keessen, IT Director, Mazars Netherlands
Streamlining the customer experience
Mazars Netherlands specializes in accountancy, tax and consultancy. Mazars combines in-depth knowledge of the rules of today with the passion for the challenges of the future. This way, Mazars contributes to the sustainable yield of (international) companies, organizations in the public sector, SMEs, and high-net-worth individuals. Mazars prides itself on taking a creative, curious, and empathetic approach to helping customers. This sense of pride is felt in every area of the business. So when customers were frustrated by a disjointed web experience across those services, IT decided to take a closer look.
“We offered four different kinds of web applications to our customers,” says IT director Frank Keessen. “The silos were very annoying for our customers because they had to log on to every application with a different username and a different password.”
The situation was not only frustrating for Mazars, it was costly too. With no single sign-on solution (SSO), customers kept forgetting their usernames and passwords. And since they couldn’t reset their own passwords, Mazars’ IT department was flooded with helpdesk calls. “That was the landscape before we started thinking about identity and access management,” says Keessen.
So Mazars decided to modernize their customer experience by developing Mazars Signals, a collaborative platform that would give customers customized access to all their information in one place and ease the application process. Keessen knew that Mazars would benefit too. “It’s one central platform where customers can interact with Mazars,” says Keessen. “It's not only about functional signals, like saying ‘you have to approve your tax return’, but also about pushing out relevant, tailor-made knowledge to our customers. We've also built in a solution that can provide information to our auditors.”
Mazars Signals would eliminate the silos, but Keessen knew that adding a strong identity layer to the platform was essential before rolling it out to customers. Adopting a solution like single sign-on would help unify the platform, and multi-factor authentication would protect sensitive client data on the go. He just needed to find the right solution for Mazars.
A customized solution
Keessen and his team shopped around for an identity solution and ended up “in heavy discussions” with Okta and Microsoft, evaluating both AD FS and Azure AD. They also tried Azure B2C, but it didn’t meet their requirements.
We chose Okta because it had an open platform with an API stack we could use to simplify the login and password self-service processes.
“We chose Okta because it had an open platform with an API stack we could use to simplify the login and password self-service processes,” says Keessen. “We also wanted to keep the identity management solution separate from the Mazars Signals platform so if we chose another platform or another technology, we can simply switch technologies. Our customer’s identity will still be there in Okta, and the customer won’t even realize there’s a change in the technology stack.”
Keessen also wanted a single identity platform for both employees and customers. This approach would not only ease the IT department’s identity management workload, it would also make it easier for employees to access the portal. For the portal itself, Mazars used OpenID Connect, a modern identity standard, to stitch together the four services. Essentially, he wanted the ultimate seamless experience for customers, and he wanted to ensure that their information remained as secure as possible.
“Our customers are able to use the app to approve and reject workflows like, for instance, tax returns,” says Keessen. “Before, they had to login to a platform and there was a lot of hassle. Now they can see, at a glance, their tax return form, and they can simply approve or reject it anytime, anywhere, anyplace on their mobile device. And Okta keeps them secure while they do it.”
Soon, with the addition of Adaptive Multi-factor Authentication (MFA), the Mazars customer and employee experience will become even more convenient and secure. This is key, since incorporating secure customer identity management is a priority for Mazars.“When we selected Okta, we went through a whole process on the legal side, but also on the security side,” says Keessen. “We really trust Okta to protect our customer data.”
This is particularly important to help Mazars stay compliant. Mazars is in Okta’s EU data centre cell, which maintains Mazars’ compliance with EU privacy and data locality regulations. For a financial services organization, that’s no small amount of trust.
“I think Mazars Signals is a really good solution that sets us ahead of our competitors,” says Keessen. “It makes it easy to do business with us, puts us in the pole position. We’re offering all our services on one single platform. Our customers also love the mobile solution we're offering because they can see, at a glance, the status of their processes and applications.”
Once the Mazars Signals platform was built, the identity piece was implemented in 3 months with the help of Okta Professional Services. Of course, Okta’s APIs and SDKs also helped speed the process along. “We like working with Okta’s consultants,” says Keessen. “They’re very good at helping us out, and they’re very eager to solve challenges for us. That makes it a lot of fun to work with Okta.”
The response was overwhelmingly positive. “Customers were very happy with their ability to easily access all the information they wanted in one place, and with the simple password recovery process,” says Keessen. They also appreciate the improved login process and their ability to easily complete and submit applications. But the customers aren’t the only winners in this story; there’s a big perk for Mazars, too: “The password recovery process is very straightforward, so our service desk calls decreased by about 80% or 90% when we implemented Okta.”
After more than a year with Okta, Keessen can confidently say that Okta’s reliability is 100%.
Okta’s commitment to being “Always On” may also have contributed to the decrease in helpdesk calls. After more than a year with Okta, Keessen can confidently say that Okta’s reliability is 100%. “Stability is really key for the Mazars Signals platform,” he says. And we never have any outages with Okta.”
With Mazars Signals, customers can feel confident that their sensitive information is secure, and they’ll continue to enjoy easy access to customized promotions and information that’s tailored to meet their specific needs. While, on the surface, these might feel like customer benefits, this is actually good for everyone. Because happy customers stick around.
Increasing customer control
Mazars Signals is working so well that Mazars will soon be offering a multi-country platform and expanding the service outside the Netherlands.
It’s also adding federated identity management, which allows enterprise customers to manage access to Mazars Signals locally, according to their own policies and processes. “We've got a customer that's saying, ‘Okay, the on- and off-boarding of our employees is now done by Mazars. We want to do it by ourselves,’” says Keessen. “With the federation in place, they’ll be able to do their own onboarding and offboarding, and that will be automatically replicated to the Okta instance.”
With Mazars’ history of working hard to delight its customers, we know there will be a lot more to Mazars’ Okta journey. For now, we’re looking forward helping Mazars give its customers more control--without compromising security.
About Mazars Netherlands
Mazars is an international organization that specializes in accountancy, tax, and consultancy.