Ecommerce businesses have many risks to manage, from supply chain and inventory issues to chargebacks. Reputational risk is also an ongoing concern. Consumers are more likely than not to switch brands after a bad experience, and customers have instant access to social media and review platforms that let them share those experiences with the world. Other consumers read those complaints and reviews not only to make smarter buying decisions but also for entertainment. (A quick search for “viral bad review” will turn up dozens of cautionary examples.)
Because customers are willing to drop companies that don’t meet their expectations and to talk about it online, improving CX and fighting fraud don’t just help with the bottom line. These functions can also reduce reputational risk by preventing the kinds of experiences that drive customers away and lead them to warn others. Companies concerned about protecting their brand reputation should make sure their CX and fraud prevention programs include some key elements.
A warm welcome for first-time customers
Creating a positive first impression for new visitors to your website or shopping app can be challenging. First, there’s the fact that you don’t yet have historical customer data available to personalize their shopping experience. That comes later, after they’ve visited the pages that interest them, perhaps shared some products with friends, and, ideally, signed up for your marketing emails or made a purchase.
If that brand-new customer does make a purchase, it’s important to assess their risk of fraud correctly. Too often, we see consumers who are new to a retailer, or perhaps even new to shopping online, receive a false decline when they place their first order. This can happen when fraud parameters that are too rigid or simplistic flag an order as suspicious and then automatically reject it because of the lack of order history or the newness of the customer’s contact information. Consider that, according to ClearSale’s State of Consumer Attitudes on CX & Fraud 2021 survey, 13% of consumers shopped online for the first time after the start of the pandemic.
When good customers are rejected by mistake, 34% will complain about the retailer on social media, per the survey. Over time, if fraud controls generate a high number of false positives, those complaints can tarnish the company’s reputation.
False declines also rob retailers of the ability to capitalize on the customer data they gain from new customers’ site activity, because 40% of rejected shoppers won’t return. To improve CX and protect their reputation, companies can implement fraud scoring that flags but doesn’t automatically reject customers with thin histories so they can be manually reviewed and approved if legitimate.
Better recognition of returning customers
False declines can also undermine the relationship between repeat customers and retailers. If these customers have already made purchases on your site and perhaps even said positive things about your brand on social media, a mistaken order rejection may feel like a personal insult or a betrayal of your relationship with them.
One way to avoid rejecting good customers with a history of safe orders is to make sure your fraud control processes can account for changing behavior. For example, many people have moved since the start of the pandemic, and an increasing number of people are working (and shopping) remotely. If the customer suddenly has a new IP address, phone, or delivery address, it’s worth verifying that the order is good before approval, but rejecting this kind of order automatically risks offending a loyal customer who’s traveling, working from a new location, or who simply upgraded their mobile device. These shoppers, like brand-new ones, may complain about the rejection on social media or tell their friends in person about their bad experience.
A more active social media presence
Apart from the risk of customer complaints about declined orders, companies can face other reputational risks online. One is related to how, or whether, they respond to customer questions and complaints on social media. McKinsey describes social media as a “preferred channel for customer service interactions — and a challenging one.” Because customers expect a quick response whenever they contact a company on social media, slow or absent responses can damage their impression of the brand. For example, McKinsey cites a survey finding that 81% of consumers who don’t get a response from a company after complaining about a bad experience on social media will refuse to recommend that company to others.
The solution here is to invest in a strong social media service team, one that monitors social platforms for company mentions in addition to responding to direct inquiries. Social listening can also help companies identify and combat any fraudsters who might impersonate their brand online in order to phish login credentials or payment data from customers, sell counterfeit goods, or trick shoppers into to placing orders for products they’ll never receive. By finding and reporting these scams, companies can protect their brands from the reputational damage impostors can cause.
Better CX, fraud management, and brand protection over time
As your company gathers more data to personalize customer experiences, prevent fraud and false declines, and resolve customer service issues, you can analyze that data to uncover insights about your customers’ product preferences, purchasing behaviors, and pain points. With this information, you can go beyond defending your company’s reputation from negative events to strengthening your positive reputation by building better customer experiences, reducing fraud and checkout friction, and ensuring that you deliver the best possible customer service.