The Fraud Team’s Guide to Winning Friends and Influencing Other Departments
By Michelle Arguelles /
28 Apr 2016
No fraud team is an island. Though your day-to-day focus may be different than those of engineering, marketing, sales, and product, your fate is intertwined with those other teams. Changes in any one of these organizations can drastically affect any of the others – and ultimately your business.
That’s why it’s important to always keep communication channels open. But how to start? During my time as a fraud analyst, I developed a simple yet effective method for communicating with other teams – and, ultimately, for working well together.
1. Understand your own goals.
2. Identify the goals of other departments you’d like to collaborate with.
3. When communicating with these other groups, frame your needs in terms of their goals first.
4. Keep checking in, recalibrating, and communicating. Don’t assume that everyone knows what’s happening.
First, know thyself
The Greeks probably said it best. In order to communicate with other teams effectively, you first need to have a good grasp of your own team’s goals. So, before you reach out to anyone else, make sure you have good answers to most of these questions:
- What are your biggest needs? Pain points?
- What does your workflow look like?
- How much fraud are you facing? How much review are you doing?
- Who do you need help from?
- Who else is affected by your decisions?
- Are you clear on what actions to take in different fraud-related situations (e.g., payments fraud vs. terms of service violation vs. friendly fraud) and how that affects other departments?
Knowing these things gives you solid ground to stand on whenever you need to make a case to any other team in your organization. Consistency on these things also makes it easier for other teams to understand where you stand. They’ll know how to work within your guidelines and also will know to come to you if something they’re thinking of is a little outside those boundaries.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the departments who commonly collaborate with Fraud & Risk…
On a daily basis, there are plenty of situations in which Fraud and Marketing need to touch base. New promotions or marketing campaigns can bring unexpected volume to your review queues. Think of seasonal sales or special events like the Super Bowl. Depending on your business model, your sales team also may bring on new partners or accounts who can be very sensitive to both hold times and cancellations. A poor fraud experience can result in customer churn and – bottom line – lost revenue.
Marketing and Sales are evaluated based on metrics like how much new business they’re bringing in, how many leads are converting into customers, and how much brand awareness they’re creating via promotions and offers. As we’ve written before, these goals sometimes seem destined to be at odds with those of the Fraud team. Brand-new, never-before-seen customers? Great! say Marketing and Sales. More revenue! On the other hand, the Fraud team wants to keep losses down and (if it were up to them) probably would take a more conservative approach to opening these floodgates of new customers.
Tips for working together
1. Set expectations. Have clear guidelines about what you will and will not accept, and what is a reasonable turnaround time for fraud decisions if things are placed on hold. Outline your policies clearly and make them available for Sales to reference without asking you directly. If Sales knows where you stand, they can set the right expectations with the customer at the outset and avoid problems.
2. Stay ahead of the new accounts being onboarded. Make sure you’re aware of what’s coming down the pipeline and ask questions along the way. If a customer has specific needs, be open to them. You also can seize the opportunity to negotiate for something more that’s in your interest. For example, if they want shorter hold times, say they will need to send more Risk information.
3. Frame conversations in terms of numbers and revenue. When having conversations about expectations or new campaigns or accounts, position your arguments to fit that framework. For example, “More information means greater accuracy in fraud detection, less loss for the customer, and a more satisfying experience. All that leads to more revenue at the end of the day.”
4. Emphasize how smart fraud prevention can help increase conversion. Marketing and Sales may not realize that technologies commonly used in fraud prevention – like machine learning – can be used to identify non-risky customers and reduce friction for them during checkout. Less friction = more conversion = better numbers for Marketing!
You’ll often need engineering resources to help you fix bugs, make changes to your manual review queue, build out a new dispute center, or update your fraud solution’s integration. These resources, given everything else your business has to build and maintain, can be hard to come by. How do you make sure fraud needs get prioritized?
Tips for working together
1. Quantify the pain and back it up with data. Having a good grasp on how much fraud you actually have as well as the true cost of fraud is the first step to making sure things get prioritized. If there’s too much fraud, it stops being a nuisance and becomes an existential problem. Also keep in mind your operational costs. Will automating the unnecessarily manual process of chargeback entry save you 2 hours a day? Yes. And what could you do instead? Focus on higher leverage items like more efficient workflows, or ways to improve the customer experience.
2. Be prepared with concrete solutions and priorities. Instead of “We want to stop fraudsters!” Say something like “When we know someone is a fraudster, with the push of a button, we want to make sure they: 1) get an email, 2) have all their pending orders cancelled, 3) are unable to place any future orders, and 4) are put on a blacklist.” Your engineers aren’t mind readers and may not have as good of a grasp on your problem and needs as you think they do. Make sure you’re specific about what you want done.
If you have a laundry list of things you need (which you probably do), have a clear idea of what’s most important and accept that not everything may be done at one time. Is there a workaround to a small bug you’re facing? Make sure you’re collaborating on improvements that will make your team more efficient and your fraud fighting more accurate.
3. Keep an open mind and keep communication open. You may have some ideas about what you want built, but your engineers may have some of their own that are even better. (And hopefully your engineers are asking you questions along the way, too!) Work together to find what works best for you, your team, and your business.
4. Share your wins with them. Engineers love to work on things they feel will make a difference. Once their changes are launched, show them the positive impact it had on yours or your customer’s day-to-day and how they’ve contributed.
New products – and even small product changes – can drastically affect the type of fraud you have or the information you get. Let’s say your company launches a mobile app. This introduces a new way for users and fraudsters to interact with your business. Typically, mobile apps are built in ways that reduce friction for users (think of on-demand apps that require little sign up information and save your credit card for charging whenever you need it). For you as a Risk analyst, though, that means more fraudsters coming through, more quickly with fewer data points to make an accurate decision. You either will need to accept more risk and ambiguity, OR accept that more orders are going to be cancelled. (And both options have consequences well beyond your team.)
Tips for working together
1. Stay ahead of product updates and changes. Make sure you know the specifications of the new product and think of how they would affect your day-to-day life. Walk through the new product experience and think of ways you might fraud yourself. If you identify holes, speak up and mention them. If the hole is too large, is this a product worth pursuing? Are there minor changes you can make to either the product or your process to plug these holes?
2. Encourage your Product team to keep “fraud considerations” in mind whenever they are designing something new. Ensuring that your team’s interests are in their mind in early stages can help you avoid wasted time building something that does not work for all the stakeholders.
Work with product to make sure you are building the right things the first time around. At the end of the day, you’re one team trying to prevent or weather the same storms, earthquakes, monster attacks, etc. Having good cross-functional communication helps ensure that everyone gets through in one piece, and that you – as a unified company – reach your goals.
Want to learn more about how to build a fraud approach from the ground up? Check out our free ebook, Kickstart Your Fraud-Fighting Strategy.