19 Ways to Avoid a “Holiday Hangover”

By Karisse Hendrick, Editor-at-Large, CardNotPresent.com

19 Ways to Avoid a “Holiday Hangover” In 19 days, Christmas will be in the rearview. Until then, the Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday broke records for online sales volume creating momentum that e-commerce and m-commerce merchants hope to continue throughout the season. Because daily order volume at this time of year typically dwarfs the rest of the calendar, it is harder to detect fraudulent orders. Sales promotions change frequently, sometimes making good customers appear risky. And, with consumers spending more this month than usual, many merchants experience a spike in declines. It can be a stressful time of year for those focused on payments, fraud and security. And, while most of your preparations for the holiday season were put into motion months ago, there are simple, easily implemented strategies many merchants use that can reduce that stress and help avoid a hangover that could extend well into the New Year. In honor of the 19 days that will take us beyond the holiday, here are 19 of our favorites:

  1. Have daily “team huddles” in the morning to exchange information about current fraud trends and patterns. Set a timer to ensure that this doesn’t take too much time away from reviews.
  2. Know the items your company sells that fraudsters target most and keep in mind the fraud patterns you’ve been seeing all year.
  3. For those using rules-based systems, have a rule set designed for holiday volumes. Auto-pass low-risk attributes. You have to be willing to increase your risk or the customer experience may be compromised.
  4. Choose your battles wisely. Though your instinct may be against making changes to rules or manual review processes, keep in mind that the majority of sales are good. And, sometimes canceling a good order can have a larger negative impact on a business than accepting a fraudulent order.
  5. Review your rules often. If you see orders with similar characteristics being flagged for manual review, but approved more than 80 percent of the time, adjust your rules to accept them.
  6. Monitor the number of sales being sent to manual review and the SLAs for sending those orders out for fulfillment. If these numbers rise, review the percentage of orders being cancelled. Review the characteristics to determine if some groups of orders should bypass the wait for a manual review.
  7. For manual reviews, consider looking at a customer’s wish lists on major marketplace Websites. If the recipient of the package has added similar items as what has been ordered to their online wish lists, chances are the purchase is legitimate.
  8. Because so many orders are shipped as gifts to an address different than the purchaser’s at this time of year, use social media to verify if the shipper and receiver know each other. 
  9. Know your shipping cut-off dates and have a team celebration when you achieve them.
  10. Try to be informed of sales and promotions before they happen. Estimate how this will impact order behavior, make sure you are staffed accordingly and communicate this information to your team.
  11. Communicate daily or weekly reporting to other teams within the company to help them understand the impact of aggressive marketing campaigns on order volume and any risky behavior that occurred as a result of the campaign.
  12. Be in contact with the customer service manager and track calls from legitimate customers that had orders on hold for verification or canceled due to suspicion of fraud. If these calls increase, review and try to correct to lower insult rates.
  13. Work with the customer service manager to ensure that customers are receiving refunds when requested. If a customer is adamant they deserve a refund, it may be in the best interest of the merchant to issue one in order to prevent a chargeback from being filed.
  14. Have plenty of free coffee and snacks on hand for your team. Sugar can be an effective way of increasing production for at least an hour.
  15. Keep morale up by having theme days, potlucks, “Secret Santa” or by playing trivia games with your team during working hours. It’s a good distraction and can alleviate stress. Everyone likes prizes.
  16. Have a few current magazines on hand for employees who usually don’t take breaks to have 15 minutes of time away from a computer screen.
  17. Keep your refrigerator at home stocked with the adult beverage of your choice.
  18. You will take some losses.  Be realistic and know that the only way to achieve a zero-percent fraud rate is to have zero percent in sales.
  19. Have a great holiday season and find time to relax amidst the chaos!

In less than three weeks, the holiday rush will be over and we will have put another year behind us. Keep reading CardNotPresent.com and—just like taking down the Christmas tree and packing away the treasured ornaments—we’ll help you to find a safe place in the attic for the lessons learned from this season so they’re ready to go next year when it’s time to do it all over again.