Are Password Resets Costing Your Company?

Are Password Resets Costing Your Company? [Survey]

Categories: Infographic

Key Findings

  • One in 4 online shoppers were willing to abandon a cart of $100+ if they had to reset their password to checkout.
  • On average, an online cart totaling $162 was the most respondents would be willing to abandon when experiencing password difficulties while shopping.
  • Respondents most commonly forgot their password while online banking. 
  • Nearly half of respondents reported having to reset their bill-paying account password at least once a year due to login issues.
  • Baby boomers were most likely to use old passwords when resetting account credentials.

You’ve headed out into the great wide world of the internet and you are ready to get connected! One problem though – what was that password for that one site? Auto-fill can only get you so far. You try variations of pet names, street names, the numerical combinations of our forefathers, such as “123” and “321,” all to no avail. Now, you find yourself resetting your password to your email to get a verification email to reset your password for that other site. What should’ve been a quick and easy log-in turned into yet more passwords to keep track of. 

This kind of situation happens all too often for many people while connecting to the web – it can happen when online banking, using your gaming, dating, or social media accounts, or even when trying to make an online purchase. 

Over 1,000 respondents were surveyed to better understand how these frustrating interactions affect consumers as well as the amount of business companies lose because of them. We explored the frequency of password resets on different platforms and the consequences of forgotten passwords. How likely were consumers to abandon their shopping cart instead of resetting a password? Did the amount or type of merchandise in their carts play any role in this decision? Just how often does the average person reset their password, and for which accounts? Keep reading to learn more about password resets and how to avoid them. 

One, Two, Three Strikes … Reset

For the first part of our study, we wanted to establish the most common consumer behaviors when a password is forgotten.

An infographic about account setups and password resets

Nowadays, just about every application and site requires you to log in. Others force registration by making you enter an email or create an account before even interacting with their website. However, consumers are more sensitive about sharing personal information than ever before with 79% of consumers are very or somewhat concerned about how companies are using data collected about them. Perhaps because of this, half of our respondents reported being likely to leave a site if asked to sign in with a password. Baby boomers were more likely than other generations to stay on a site if it required a sign-up.

With a myriad of passwords to keep track of on a variety of sites, forgetting a specific password is easy. Thirty-six percent of respondents were most likely to make two password attempts before resetting it. However, 10% of people polled kept trying until they were forced to reset. Men were more likely than women to persist in guessing a password. 

When resetting a password, half of our respondents created a new password on their own. Meanwhile, 37% used a password service, and 12% relied on a variation of their previous password. Password reset strategies differed based on generation, with millennials being the most likely to create a new password with a password service, Gen Xers being the most likely to use a variation of an older password, and baby boomers being the most likely to use the same password as before. For password security, most websites will not allow customers to reset with a previously used password. When faced with this error message, 48% reported being very likely to abandon a site.

Frequency of Password Resets

For the next part of our study, we explored how often users were forced to reset passwords on different types of websites and apps.

A table displaying the frequency with which passwords are reset on different site and app types

When asked how often they had to change their password due to incorrect login details on a variety of different site types, the most common answer was at least once a year (between 44% and 47%). This was followed by those who had to change their password at least once a month (30% to 34%) and those who reported changing theirs less than once a year (20% to 24%).. 

Respondents in our study were most likely to change their password once a month or more on money transfer apps. When breaking results for this timeframe down by generation, baby boomers were the most likely to be forced to reset their bill-paying and banking app passwords. Gen Xers were more likely to have to reset their social media and money transfer app passwords, while millennials were the most likely to require a reset at least once a month to shop online. 

Along with the fact that 76% of online consumers abandon carts due to password reset issues, the frequency of password resets across all industries represents a significant lost revenue opportunity. 

In the next section, we dive into the consequences of password resets in terms of consumer behavior. 

Sticky Situations Due to Forgotten Passwords

Password resets often take time to resolve. To analyze additional consequences, we asked respondents about common situations in which they forgot their passwords and the experiences they had as a result. 

An infographic about issues consumers face when forgetting their passwords

The most common situation in which individuals reported forgetting a password was when online banking (67%). Millennials beat out Gen Xers and baby boomers when it came to forgetting passwords. This generation was the most likely to be guilty of forgetting their passwords while online banking, accessing travel information, and finding documents. Meanwhile, baby boomers were most likely to forget passwords when making an online purchase. 

When respondents encountered password troubles, they were most likely to abandon banking apps and travel apps. On the other hand, they were least likely to abandon a site if they had issues with their password while looking for a document or making a purchase. However, as the next section of our study shows, this proved to be dependent on the amount of merchandise in their virtual shopping cart.

Unfortunately, a forgotten password can lead to an inability to receive services (44%) or products (41%). In addition to facing long waits (43%), respondents reported having to return home to retrieve something (35%) and having to borrow money from a friend (34%). If borrowing is not an option, a forgotten password may even lead to an added expense. For example, you arrive at a sporting event but cannot access your tickets. You try password after password without success, so in order to attend you’re forced to buy a new set of tickets. 

Other experiences left respondents in potentially unsafe situations, such as getting lost (33%) or separated from friends and family (30%). Men were more likely than women to get lost due to issues with passwords and account access. 

Losing your password for something like a ridesharing app, or even your email, can also result in irritating travel experiences. A recent report found that 55% of recent travelers said the process of air travel is more stressful than going to work. Having to take time to reset your passwords to get to your airplane ticket, or to get yourself a ride to the airport, could add extra stress to what is already a stressful process for many. 

Loss of Business

When faced with a forgotten password while shopping online, some respondents chose to quit prior to purchasing rather than persevere with a solution. This often depended on the products in their virtual basket and how much they totaled.

An infographic exploring the effect of passwords on e-commerce transactions

Nearly 60% of respondents reported being very likely to reset their password and continue shopping if they had items in their cart but couldn’t remember their password. However, 12% said they would not be very likely to do so. 

The cost of what was in a consumer’s shopping cart played a major role in whether they decided to reset their password and continue to make the purchase or quit prior to purchasing altogether. One in 4 respondents were willing to abandon purchases totaling over $100 rather than reset their password. Women were less likely than men to do so. 

On average, respondents said the highest value they would be willing to abandon was $162. When this was broken down:

By generation: 

  • Baby boomers said the most they would abandon was $172 
  • Gen Xers came in significantly lower at $129
  • Millennials set $166 as their threshold 

By gender: 

  • Women said the most they’d be willing to abandon was $130 
  • Men reported a higher amount of $160. 

In this scenario, certain products were more likely to be abandoned than others. Wares such as clothing (51%) or household items (49%) were the most frequently abandoned. When looking at it from a generational perspective, Gen Xers were most likely to abandon home goods and children’s items, while millennials were more likely to abandon food items and clothing. Baby boomers were the most likely to say they didn’t mind resetting their password to avoid parting with their cart at checkout.  

Interestingly, pharmacy and health-related items (35%) were the least likely to be abandoned overall, demonstrating the growth of the global online pharmacy market, which is expected to grow over 20% by 2025. Despite this, respondents checking out with pharmacy or health-related items said the most they were willing to leave behind was $433—the largest cash amount out of all product categories. 

In order to prevent the checkout friction that can lead many to abandon their purchases, a recent study suggests offering to accept multiple forms of payment from users. This can assist users who may know their password for one payment option or online wallet, but not others. 

No More Password Headaches 

Across a variety of sites, users were most likely to report being forced to reset their password due to incorrect details at least once a year. The most common situation in which respondents forgot their password was online banking. On average, respondents made two attempts to guess the correct password before resetting it. 

Upon resetting, half created a new password entirely on their own in lieu of using a password generator or variation of their old password. Unfortunately for the consumer, sometimes these lapses in memory lead to consequences such as longer waits or an inability to receive certain products or services. Meanwhile, businesses face losses due to abandoned online purchases and support costs for resolving reset issues.

Luckily, with Beyond Identity’s Secure Customers, you can eliminate passwords across web and native application forever. . With passwordless authentication, we free users from the hassle of creating and remembering new passwords. Plus, passwords are not used for recovery so there is no need to store passwords at all—and no need to reset passwords. Complete password elimination allows you to deliver  an impenetrable defense against any credential-based attacks. After all, what doesn’t exist cannot be attacked. Learn more about how Beyond Identity can help provide a frictionless customer authentication experience at https://www.beyondidentity.com/solutions/customers.

Methodology and Limitations

We surveyed 1,019 U.S. consumers about their experiences with passwords and online checkout. Sixty-two percent of our participants were men, and 38% were women. The generational breakdown of our respondents was 9% baby boomers, 23% Generation X, 63% millennials, and 5% Generation Z. It is possible that with more Generation Z participants, we could have gained more insight into this age group.

For short, open-ended questions, outliers were removed. To help ensure that all respondents took our survey seriously, they were required to identify and correctly answer an attention-check question.

The data we are presenting rely on self-report. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include, but are not limited to, the following: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.

Fair Use Statement

If you have trouble keeping track of passwords or know someone that frequently resets them, please feel free to share this article with them for noncommercial purposes. However, we kindly ask that you link back to this research to give its contributors the credit they deserve.