Maritza Dominguez knows well the tug of war that exists between having the proper security measures in place and creating an effortless experience for customers. The risk operations manager at Patreon – the popular membership platform that helps artists and creators get paid for their work – has operated on both sides of the fence.
Dominguez began her CX journey more than a decade ago working as a bilingual customer service agent for an online dating site and while there, was asked to “take a stab at” working on chargebacks. Chargebacks occur when a previously cleared transaction is reversed, resulting in a cardholder’s account being credited with the amount of the sale while the merchant’s account is debited.
Chargebacks are a big deal to tech companies. According to research from Chargebacks911, chargebacks, chargeback fraud and expenses related to managing them cost e-commerce merchants somewhere in the region of $40 billion per year.
Having developed a skill for identifying anomalies in payments, whether fraudulent or not, Dominguez became the company’s “team of one” tackling chargebacks, and acting as a liaison between customer service and the payments engineers. After cutting her teeth on fraud prevention, Dominguez moved to a global ticketing company where she handled fraud payments before joining Patreon three years ago, managing trust and safety for the company. Last year, Dominguez was appointed Risk Operations Manager.
Tackling Sophisticated Fraud
Chargebacks are not the only security threat facing Dominguez in her new role. Operating in a two-sided marketplace, one of Patreon’s eternal battles is with collusion – that is, fraudsters creating fake creator and patron accounts and using stolen credit cards to pay themselves. According to Dominguez, this type of fraud is getting more and more sophisticated.
“In the beginning, when I first started, the collusion was super obvious,” she explains. “You could tell that they put zero effort into it. These days, you’ll get fraudsters who will scrape a Kickstarter or Indiegogo page and, unless you’re looking for specific mistakes that they made, it’s really hard to differentiate between a fraudster page and a real creator page.”
It makes Dominguez’s job even more challenging now that more and more people are using virtual private networks (VPNs) and open-source software like Tor for day-to-day internet browsing – something Dominguez puts down to a growing dissatisfaction and mistrust among the general public when it comes to sharing their data.
Balancing Security and Effort
So given the numerous barriers that are needed to protect users and the company against sophisticated fraud such as illegitimate chargebacks and fake user accounts, how does Patreon ensure that it doesn’t compromise on customer experience?
“When it comes to, for instance, content moderation, taking down a page is a very serious affair for us,” says Dominguez. “We try to do as much as possible to help the creators come to a place where they are within clear guidelines. We carry out as much guidance and interaction with the user as possible until we reach a middle ground. We almost never take someone down outright without trying to work with them to bring their content back within our guidelines, so that’s one way we work to build trust.
“From a fraud standpoint, we try to make it as obvious as possible to creators that sometimes we put up some barriers that add a little more friction to the process, but it’s not because we don’t trust them, it’s because we want to make sure that the number that they see in their balance is what they’re actually going to get.”
For Dominguez, a certain amount of friction is to be expected and customers today are used to it. “I do all my shopping online so there is a certain amount of friction that I’m accustomed to,” she says. “I know they are going to ask me my name, for my card number and maybe a zip code. For these, I’m not going to bat an eyelash.
“In my view, part of developing an effortless experience is about coming to a place where the information we’re asking for isn’t something that is going to cause suspicion. A lot of times when you ask for too much information, customers ask, ‘why do you need to know that?’ It may result in them dropping out of the transaction. But also, finding the right balance between that and transparency because I feel that creators and patrons are smart enough and should be aware of some of the things going on behind the scenes.”
Mastering Effortless Experience
It prompts the question, is there any company that Dominguez views as the poster child of effortless experience? “Who I look at as the North Star in getting the balance right between transparency and making things easy for the customer is Etsy,” she says. “Etsy does a really great job of letting you know what’s going on in the journey both as a user and as a creator. I’ve taken a look at their fraud policies and their chargeback information. They do a really good job of making things transparent and putting responsibility in the hands of the creator to the levels that they want.”
The key takeaway here is that in order to achieve an effortless experience for the customer, it’s not all about removing any friction within the journey. It’s about getting the balance right so that the minimal friction that exists is effortless in itself because it is expected by the customer. With over 3 million patrons supporting more than 100,000 creators, you could conclude that Patreon is getting that balance right.
Maritza Dominguez, Risk Operations Manager at Patreon, was a speaker at the Effortless Customer Experience Summit, that took place in San Francisco on June 27th 2019. Organised by Voxpro – powered by TELUS International and its parent company TELUS International, the event brought together experts in the field of customer experience from major companies such as Google, Bird, Zuora and Wix to discuss ways to reduce customer effort, how to deliver great digital CX at scale and much more besides.
This blog post is part of our Effortless Experience series. Stay tuned for more content on the topic including podcasts, Q&As from speakers and an e-book.
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