With Black Friday only a few weeks away—and Cyber Monday hot on its heels—it's time to look at four more key components of successful peak season planning.
Peak shopping season starts soon, and we're here to help with four things to focus on during “phase two” of your preparations. If you followed the tips in our previous blog in this series, you'll have completed phase 1 of your peak season preparations. By now you'll have:
- Ensured the holiday chargeback cycle is understood
- Planned fraud strategy adjustments to take account of changes in customer spending patterns during sales and promotions
- Prepared to manage pandemic-driven product restrictions
- Made the business case for any IT enhancement requests
- Got peak season staffing plans underway
Now it's time to look at four more key components of successful peak season planning.
Tip 1: Start A/B testing your fraud strategies now
We recommend you look at what fraud strategies worked last peak season, add in what's working right now, and then start your A/B testing in good time. Now is a good time. Don't wait until the week of Black Friday to start testing your changes, as it will be too late to do a thorough job. Making an early start on testing gives you:
- More opportunities to identify what really works and what needs to be adjusted
- More time to refine your strategy accordingly
- More scope to uncover new ways to use your data for business advantage
Effective and timely A/B testing also helps you understand—and prepare for—your staffing needs.
Tip 2. Review 2020 performance metrics and set your 2021 goals
Throughout the year, you likely set personal and professional goals, and now it's time to do the same for peak season. We suggest you review last year's peak season performance and identify areas where you can set realistic goals for making improvements. (You should be able to do this without diving too deep into the data.) The goals you set could relate to areas such as:
- Lowering chargeback rates
- Improving reviewer pickup and decision times
- Increasing acceptance in your click and collect (or BOPIS) channel—whether for in-store or curbside collections
- Reducing customer contacts into your call center
Tip 3: Follow up on IT requests to get them implemented
In our previous peak shopping season blog, we recommended staying on top of any IT enhancements you've requested for peak season and being ready to make the financial business case for pushing them through in time. Now it's time to double-down on getting those IT enhancements implemented. Consider:
- Revisiting or restating the positive financial impact of the enhancement (or the negative effect of failing to implement it)
- Getting confirmation in writing that your request is advancing as expected, along with a go-live date
- Providing the IT team with your own deadlines, so that they know when the enhancement needs to be delivered to maximize its impact
If you feel that delivery of your request is at risk, don't be shy about escalating it to senior management. To get them on side, make sure you demonstrate a convincing financial return on investment (ROI). Senior leaders are always interested in efforts to increase revenue or performance.
Tip 4: Plan communication alignment and PTO usage
As Black Friday approaches, the flurry of emails around your organization will intensify. There's a real risk that any emails you send out could get lost in overcrowded inboxes. You need to be proactive with your communications, especially on the topic of personal time off (PTO), as you'll want to ensure you have enough people working at key moments throughout peak season. We suggest you prioritize internal communications about deadlines or freezes for PTO usage, and send out a draft schedule of holidays booked and work expectations to keep everyone informed.
In your communications with customers, consider sharing your team's peak season availability and PTO plans, and setting expectations around your ability to respond to emails. You may also find it useful to:
- Set clear deadlines on contract extensions
- Ask partners and suppliers about their own peak season plans for PTO
- Request details of their peak season IT freeze and code release policies
Look out for the third blog in the series, that will give our final four tips for peak shopping season prep. In the meantime, learn how Cybersource can help you manage peak season with confidence with Decision Manager, our fraud management solution, and the expertise of our Managed Risk Services team.