Five Tips for Increasing Speed and Performance with Manual Reviews

By: Justin McDonald


Fraud and risk management strategies tend to focus so much on automated risk decisioning that improving manual review performance is often an afterthought. Consider the cost savings and increased revenue an organization could realize by cutting average order review times while also reducing sales insults and missed fraud on reviewed orders. This is why improving performance of manual reviews is at least equally important as efforts to reduce order review rates.


Manual reviews are a critical piece of most all eCommerce fraud and risk management strategies, but also often a challenge. They are operationally intensive while performance metrics typically differ quite a bit across review agents, over time and due to additional hiring during seasonal peaks. Organizations tend to focus the vast majority of their risk management strategy efforts on automated risk screening, but improving performance of manual order reviews is very likely to be a source of significant potential uplift.


The order attempt manual review rate is a critical key performance indicator (KPI) that most organizations measure and strive to maintain or decrease. Merchants are much less likely to consider, however, the magnitude of operational cost savings and increase in sales conversion if they could improve their average order review time and sales insults on reviewed orders by 10 or 20 percent each.


Maintaining a manageable order review rate is important, but often comes at a cost. Effective risk management is about striking a balance between fraud prevention and enabling sales conversion. All else equal, reducing order review rates comes with a sacrifice: either increased fraud losses or increased sales insults.


The often overlooked approach is to improve manual review performance. Providing order review agents tools and features that will expedite the order review process and decrease average order review time can be equally or more meaningful operationally than reducing the number of orders queued for review. Similarly, improving the accuracy of manual reviews, such that fewer reviewed orders end up as missed fraud or sales insults, can provide as much or more financial uplift than seeking to reduce fraud losses via automated screening.


Five tips for increasing performance of manual reviews are discussed in this article, which includes both things organizations could do in-house and things that would require the use of a third party provider. These may be tools or services that replace incumbent providers or ones that are additive to an existing risk management strategy, but in either case, an increase in financial cost would be justified by improved manual review performance. For the vast majority of organizations, labor is the largest cost component of performing manual reviews. If these risk management strategy additions, in-house or third party services, can increase operational efficiency as well as reduce sales insults and fraud losses on reviewed orders, they will be well worth the investment.



1) Limit the number of platforms or interfaces a review agent needs to use.


One of the major factors contributing to the average time it takes to complete a manual review is the number of different systems or platforms the review agent needs to bounce between to get all of the relevant order and identity data required to reach a confident decision on the order. Ideally, this is limited to one internal data system and one or a small number of third party service provider platforms.


There is great value in having one hub or system that contains all internal merchant order data and transaction history. It is common, however, for review agents to have to access one system for current order data, another system for historical data to perform order linking and transaction history analysis, and sometimes even secondary data repositories to access deeper order or identity data points. The more systems, tabs or windows a review agent needs to have open and perform a search or query from, the more cumbersome and time consuming each review becomes.



2) Provide recent and historical transaction link analysis and drill-down tools.