Four ways to maximize peak season gains

January 06, 2020
Read time: 7 min
Carl Tucker
Carl Tucker
Cybersource | Vice President, Managed Risk Services

Peak season has officially come to a close. The holidays have passed and online sales volumes are returning to non-peak levels.

You might think you have another eight or nine months before you need to deal with anything related to peak season. But in fact, there is plenty of work that you can and should do right now to maximize revenues for this past peak season while preparing for the next one.

Here are four best practices for the post-peak period.

1. Focus on customer service.

Buying has slowed, but many of your customers will need help resolving issues with their peak-period orders for weeks to come. Whether they received the wrong size sweater or did not receive a shipment in time, they want a fast, stress-free resolution. And if they don’t get one, they might just ask their bank to issue a refund. 

To keep customers happy, avoid chargebacks, and squeeze every bit of revenue out of this sales period, you should empower your customer service agents. Your agents should have the tools and resources at their disposal to quickly issue refunds, authorize exchanges, send replacements, and perhaps, even compensate customers for their inconvenience.

At the same time, make sure you have customer service agents ready to respond to social media complaints fast—before they snowball. You need to turn any bad customer experiences around before tens of thousands of other social media users think twice about buying from your business. 

2. Smart Scale staffing.

If you do review you will most likely decrease staff as volume of orders decreases, you’ll likely need fewer people to manually review orders, but you will need more staff in customer support.  It is common for sophisticated merchants to cross-train employees so they can be moved across functional teams as needed. If you had brought in employees from other parts of your business for manual review during the peak season, it’s time to send them back to their home departments. Or if you’ve hired temporary staff or contracted with outside resources, you can scale back to reduce your operating costs.

3. Evaluate results and identify lessons learned.

Did your business meet your aggressive forecasts for revenues? You might have fine-tuned your fraud management strategy to accept more orders during peak season—even though you knew that would mean accepting a relatively small increase in chargebacks. Now that peak season is drawing to a close, it’s time to evaluate how well your strategy worked. If your revenues came up a little short (and your chargebacks were still tolerable), you might decide to tweak your rules to accept even more orders for the next peak. 

Were you able to keep operational costs under control? Manual review can be expensive, especially during the peak season, when businesses often use more reviewers and pay overtime. For the next peak, consider pushing more orders through an automated, machine learning-based system that accepts or rejects transactions in real time. You might find that you can achieve the results you want while reducing costs. 

Whatever your results, be sure to share them with other departments across the business. Knowing what worked well—and what didn’t—is critical for optimizing sales, marketing, fulfillment, and a range of other key functions. 

4. Mark your calendar for the next peak.

For many businesses, there is not just a single peak season—there are multiple peak sales periods. Your sales and marketing teams might have a big launch planned for May or a promotion set for August. Make sure you know well in advance when the next peak will happen. With the next peak on your calendar, you can adjust your fraud management strategies to increase good order acceptance and right-size staffing levels to handle an influx of manual review requests. 

Take a deep breath—then dive back in

Peak season is a major stress test for your order acceptance and fraud management strategy. You survived this peak, but don’t wait too long before you plan ways to thrive in the next one. 

Need some assistance preparing for your upcoming peak season? Contact Cybersource to learn how we can help you optimize your fraud management strategy.