Getting Started With Manual Review

Whether you’re assessing orders before fulfillment or reviewing orders post-acceptance/rejection decision, follow these best practices when performing manual review of transactions.

Why Review Transactions at All?

Before getting started on specifics, let’s ask: What’s the point of manual review? If you have fraud tools in place, why have a human being look at transactions at all?

Even the best-designed system will occasionally flag legitimate orders as suspicious, and overlook the occasional fraudulent order. The only way to assess the shortcomings of a system is to review its predictions. This could be done by judging the system only by the misses that lead to chargebacks, but this approach would completely ignore legitimate orders rejected in error.

Even the best-designed system will occasionally flag legitimate orders as suspicious, and overlook the occasional fraudulent order.

Additionally, for transactions that are neither extremely safe nor extremely risky, gathering more information before making a decision is a path you may consider. Companies are leveraging SMS and dedicated landing pages in order to provide a second layer of authentication before processing orders. This provides an automated and scalable way to challenge transactions you may not have the most confidence in, with the added benefit of providing additional information for chargeback representment.

There are certainly businesses for which delaying orders from fulfillment doesn’t make sense, especially when average order value is particularly low or in the case of digital goods when instant delivery is expected. Regardless of whether it happens pre- or post-hoc, businesses will always find value in reviewing transactions and tailoring their fraud practices to fraudsters’ evolving tactics.

Factors to Consider

Whether to put orders on hold: Deciding whether to put some orders in hold until they can be reviewed depends heavily on the nature of your business. If orders are fulfilled only once a day or less (for example, weekday afternoons when you ship physical goods), holding risky orders for review makes a lot of sense. If, on the other hand, instant fulfillment is inherently necessary (as with cab rides, for example), or if nothing is lost by issuing a refund once you learn a transaction is fraudulent (as with access to an online game, for example), holding orders for review might not be the best solution.

Hours of operation: Rest assured that if you put any orders in a held state, your customers will contact you about them. As such you should prepare in advance for any inquiries and how you plan to resolve them.

Will you handle these requests by email, phone, or both? What are your internal service level agreements (SLAs) for response times? Knowing the answers to both of these questions can help you adjust your thresholds for held orders accordingly.

Role of reviewer judgment: What overall standards do you expect reviewers to employ when deciding what to do with orders? Generally, you should rely on the judgment of the people making decisions, rather than giving them very strict “cancel the order when this, release the order when that” rules.

Rules, after all, are easily automated, and you should generally avoid using people for anything that could be automated. Instead, provide clear guidelines for what to look out for in general, and which way to lean in certain situations (e.g., if it’s under $X, don’t bother calling to ask about it). Additionally, providing direction on what data to assess for review from your case management tool can improve consistency.