Peak season is here. Now what?

November 26, 2019
Read time: 8 min
Carl Tucker
Carl Tucker
CyberSource | Vice President, Managed Risk Services

At long last, peak season is here—and you’re ready. You’ve been planning for months by fine-tuning your fraud management strategy to accept more good orders, and coordinating promotional schedules with sales and marketing teams.

You’ve also tested order acceptance and rejection rules using historical data. And if you have them you’ve right-sized your manual review staffing levels. 

All you have to do now is put your feet up on the desk and watch the revenues flow in, right? Not so fast. 

To make sure your business fully capitalizes on this lucrative sales period, you’ve got to continuously optimize order acceptance and fraud management. So, what should you be doing during peak season? Here are a few suggested best practices.

1. Continue to stay in sync with sales and marketing

In the months leading up to peak season, you coordinated your schedules with sales and marketing so you would know when they planned to kick off peak season. Once peak season has arrived, make sure you stay in sync with these teams. They might be planning special promotions for the coming weeks or months, and you need to be ready to handle any possible spikes in order volumes. 

2. Know your shipping cutoff times

Delivering products on time—before, say, a major gift-giving holiday—is critical to keeping customers happy. To make sure those presents arrive when they should, you need to know the day—and even the time of day—when each product must be on the truck at the warehouse. 

Once you know the shipping cutoff time, you’ll need to fine-tune your order evaluation process to help ensure that accept or reject decisions happen well before that cutoff. If you’re using a machine learning–based automated system, you can generate those decisions in real time, allowing your customers to wait until the last minute to click Buy. 

But if you’re using manual review for any orders, you’ll need to make sure the good people reviewing orders have made their decisions before each day’s shipping cutoff time. You might institute a maximum amount of time for manual reviews (for example, 3 hours). Or you might decide to accept or reject everything in the queue by a particular time of day. Yes, that means incurring slightly more risk, but it might be worth it to help ensure good customers get their products on time. 

Another option to help meet shipping deadlines: Push more orders to an automated system. You could reserve manual reviews for only the highest-value transactions. 

3. Monitor your daily transaction volume

Are you not meeting forecasts for your daily transaction volumes? As a business do you have healthy chargeback rates?  If so you might decide to adjust your fraud management strategy and become even more aggressive with order acceptance.   

Is your volume higher than expected? You might need to further automate your fraud strategy or add resources for manual review. Either hiring more people, shifting personnel from other tasks to manual review, or supplementing your staff with outside resources. 

Whatever transaction trends you see, make sure you communicate those trends to other teams. Fluctuations in transaction volumes will affect order fulfillment, replenishment, and more. Sharing transaction trends with your finance team will also give that team an early indication of how well your business is performing during peak season. 

4. Be proactive with Chargebacks

While peak season lasted only a few months, chargebacks generally appeared only toward the very end of the period. But now that peak season is starting earlier and ending later, you might experience more chargebacks while your sales are still peaking. 

Even if you’ve decided to allow a few more chargebacks than usual so you can maximize order acceptance, it’s still a good idea to minimize chargebacks whenever possible. And non-fraud-related chargebacks are a good place to focus your efforts.

Your customer service team can play a vital role in avoiding chargebacks caused by order errors or other problems. Let’s say a customer orders a blue jacket, but a black one arrives. A customer service agent can help initiate an exchange and expedite the replacement—even if there is some added cost or risk. Without that excellent customer service, a customer might simply decide to request a refund directly from the bank.

Make sure your customer service team understands how important it is to keep customers happy, and give them the tools and liberty they need to swiftly respond to problems. At the same time, keep track of the chargebacks that do occur during peak season. That number can give you a first indication of what to expect as the peak comes to a close.

5. Boost team morale

Peak season can be an intense, stressful time for your team and other teams within the business. Order Fulfillment teams, for example, are under great pressure to make it to the truck before the shipping cutoff time. 

Be sure you reward your people for their hard work during peak season. Even small gestures—such as providing coffee or snacks to keep them energized or bringing in massage chairs to take a quick break and relax—can boost morale at a time when you are depending on your team to maximize revenues.

Don’t stop optimizing

Your pre-peak season planning is paying off, but don’t stop optimizing your fraud management strategy now. Make sure you are continuously monitoring trends and tuning your processes so you can accept more good orders and surpass your forecasts for this key sales period.

Need some assistance with your peak season? Contact CyberSource to learn how we can help you optimize your fraud management strategy.