December 7, 2017
[Editor’s Note: December is Chargebacks Month on CardNotPresent.com. Chargebacks are an ever-present headache for digital merchants. Rules set by the card networks to govern them are complicated and favor consumers and issuers, often leaving merchants feeling frustrated. Check back here throughout the month for updated content aimed at helping merchants understand, manage and respond to chargebacks.]
When it comes to the war against fraud, your customer service department is the first line of defense. Customer service agents enjoy direct contact with the business’ clientele more than anyone else in an e-commerce operation. How they handle that interaction can make the difference between a refund and a chargeback.
Customer service reps are also the best stop-gap you have to prevent a dispute from becoming a chargeback. It’s their job to convince customers that going through the proper refund channels will work better and take less time than filing a chargeback.
Your customer service team is more important than ever during the holidays. The seasonal surge in traffic this department experiences is a good thing, but you must keep in mind that it also puts additional strain on employees. The process is more hectic and draining; providing the high caliber of service necessary can be a challenge.
Consumers’ expectations have changed, too. Research shows, for example, research shows that 42% of customers who contact a merchant via social media expect a response in less than an hour. Of those, more than three in four actually expect to hear back within 30 minutes.
You should implement the following strategies to ensure quick and accurate communication:
- Provide live phone support and answer calls in three rings or less.
- Check to make sure all published phone numbers are working correctly and calls are getting through.
- Send auto-response emails to all inquiries, informing customers when a personal reply can be expected.
- Send order confirmation emails as soon as a purchase has been made.
- Communicate delays or back-ordered merchandise.
- If you don’t already offer 24/7 support, think about upgrading during and after the holidays.
On the Lookout for Fraud
Your customer service team—particularly those receiving and processing new orders—are also in a unique position to spot fraud attempts. While there’s no sure way to tell if an order is legitimate at the time it happens, there are a variety of red flags to look for during the purchase process that may prevent a fraudulent order.
While watching for red flags is a good idea, keep in mind that they are just that: flags, not the crime itself. Customers often have perfectly legitimate explanations, so merchants need to make sure staff aren’t declining orders based on circumstantial evidence. Some examples include:
New locations: A dramatic change in location may indicate a problem. When a customer who normally calls from Kansas tries to place an order from Seattle, it might mean the person on the other end of the line isn’t legit. On the other hand, it could also mean that customer is taking advantage of the holidays to do some traveling. Don’t automatically decline a sale based on location; instead, check these orders manually, especially if the order is originating overseas.
New Devices: If your system doesn’t recognize a customer’s device, it’s best to follow-up in some way. Don’t jump to conclusions, though; people upgrade their cell phones, laptops and tablets on a regular basis. It could be a fraudster, but there is an equal or better chance it is the customer. Use a phone call, email, or security question to be sure.
Unusual Orders: Most of us are creatures of habit. We order the same things at restaurants, watch the same programs, and make purchases similar to ones we’ve made before. Any dramatic changes to a consumer’s ordering pattern could be an issue, as could any larger than usual orders. Again, don’t make assumptions—this is the gift-buying season, after all—but perform due diligence to protect yourself.
Multiple Login Attempts: We all forget passwords from time to time, so making several attempts to gain access to an account isn’t that unusual. It’s still a good idea to verify the user’s identity to rule out a hacker’s involvement: account takeover is often achieved simply through guesswork.
Many Hands Make Light Work
It’s important to remember that stress and fatigue lead to mistakes with the increase in holiday traffic. Hiring a few additional employees in the customer service department can drastically reduce friction, improve customer retention, decrease stress, and boost workplace morale.
Temporary hires need to be held to the same standard of quality applied year-round, though. Having more employees who don’t meet the company’s standard of excellence isn’t any better than being short staffed. Each new hire needs to be properly trained before taking on responsibilities.
If you can’t increase your number of workers, consider utilizing a third-party call center to handle the overflow on an on-demand basis.
Great customer service is crucial for successfully navigating the holiday shopping season. Agents who feel appreciated provide better care, and customers who feel cared for are less likely to file chargebacks.
For more tips on surviving and thriving during the extended season, be sure to download The eRetailer’s Guide to Holiday Chargebacks. This new book gives you the exclusive insights and information you need to protect your bottom line—all for free!