How Okta helped power Nando's digital reinvention

With 1,200 Nando’s restaurants worldwide - 468 of them in the UK and Ireland alone - fans of the famous flame-grilled peri-peri chicken have never had to travel far for a fix. But it’s not just the mouth-watering food that keeps customers coming back. The Nando’s fiery flavour permeates every aspect of the restaurant, like smoke from a flaming braai grill. Eye-popping interiors. Vibrant South African artworks. Afro-Luso beats the soundtrack to every meal. But then - record needle scratch - Covid. The music stopped. The restaurants closed. And the Nando’s experience shut down overnight.

Suddenly, Nando’s were in the unenviable position of having to reinvent their business in a matter of weeks, pivoting to their digital channels to give customers their next peri-peri hit. Not only did capabilities such as delivery, collection, and table orders need to make ordering food easy, they needed to channel the Nando’s flavour, too. Serving up the Nando’s experience was essential. 

Faster food

But for a company with 2 million customers, security is a crucial consideration. The challenge for Nando’s was balancing security around registrations and logins, with a frictionless journey for the customer. However, as Miguel Puig Garcia, technical lead of the Nando’s engineering team for UK and Ireland, recalls, their custom-built platform at the time wasn’t able to provide the flexibility to strike that balance

“Unfortunately, we came from really old legacy systems and weren’t able to leverage those APIs or SDKs to give us the freedom required to tailor the customer journey,” he notes. “As a result, we were getting a lot of pushback from our customers, saying, ‘Hey, guys, you’re not a bank. I just want to get my chicken and move on!’”

By moving to Okta Customer Identity Cloud, Nando’s gained the flexibility to tailor around 95% of the customer journey, enabling them to smooth the experience by removing key points of friction from the authentication process. Leveraging Okta’s JavaScript SDK and React Native SDK, for example, they were able to perform all customer authentication directly on the app, instead of sending the customer to another browser, as their previous system had done. Nando’s were also able to introduce progressive profiling, streamlining the registration process by asking information of the customer only as and when necessary. 

Okta customer journey logs, meanwhile, enabled Nando’s to view individual customer pain points and understand where specific customers were dropping out of the purchasing process, and why - data they didn’t have access to before. Using these insights, the customer service team could then communicate directly with customers to resolve their specific issues and help them complete their order. 

Hands off my chillies!

Another key part of the Nando’s experience is their strong customer loyalty scheme, with millions of Nando’s customers collecting reward points known as ‘Chillies’ for a range of benefits. By embracing Okta’s multi-factor identification (MFA), Nando’s were able to use SMS and email verification for customer logins, ensuring that customer accounts remained secure, with their Chillies and rewards under lock and key.

As Miguel explains, customers were happy with an extra layer of friction to the login process if it meant their rewards were secure: “Our app store reviews were previously really, really low - around one or two points. Then, just a few months after launching with Okta, our rating had risen to 4.7. I’m not saying that Okta’s authentication was the only reason, as the mobile app team also made important improvements to the user journey, but Okta made a significant impact.”



Teach an engineering team to fish

When working with Okta, Nando’s were clear that they didn’t merely want someone to come in and build a solution for them. Instead, they wanted to be trained to build that capability themselves. With a combination of ad hoc professional services support, an assigned architect, and members of the engineering team completing Okta’s developer certification, they were able to take full advantage of Okta’s offering, such as the official TerraForm provider, which has given them access to APIs to understand what’s going on behind the scenes, and spin up the Okta Identity Cloud on different environments for testing and debugging purposes. For Miguel, it’s been a hugely productive relationship.

“From the first day, we knew Okta were speaking our language,” he says. “They were always there to support us and we learned a huge amount around OAuth and OpenID Connect standards. The team has now been able to go on and build our own tailored functionality, with very little support.”

Zero trust, more personalisation

Nando’s are now keen to build on their security by moving towards a zero-trust architecture, where a customer’s identity is required for every login. If they detect any unexpected pattern or behaviour, they will challenge the customer for MFA or extra security details.

While it might sound counterintuitive, for Miguel, zero trust is in fact the only way to ensure that Nando’s customers completely trust their brand. As he puts it: “Building these kinds of things is really, really hard to get right and cover all edge cases, so you need to rely on someone like Okta to provide that for you. There are lots of vendors out there that could give you a specific tool, but there are no vendors who can give you the whole thing to really guarantee that whatever data our customers give us, we can make sure it is secure and no one else can access it.” 

At the same time, Nando’s are keen to introduce more personalisation to the customer experience, using Okta to capture relevant data to improve the customer’s journey. That could mean, for example, showing different parts of the website according to recent on-site activity, or depending on where a customer has logged in from. 

For Nando’s, it all comes back to serving their customers the same Nando’s experience through their digital channels that they would enjoy in their restaurants. By ensuring that their customers’ data and rewards are secure, and making the purchasing journey as smooth and personalised as possible, Nando’s leave their customers free to focus on the important things - like, what exactly is a braai grill, anyway?

Want to hear more about Nando's customer experience journey with Okta? Watch Miguel's session at Oktane 22 on-demand here.