Saturday, September 13, 2008

Circuit City tries to get it right

If you're of a cynical mindset, you might describe any efforts at process management by beleaguered CE retailer Circuit City as closing the barn door after the cows have got out.

However, I'm a little more optimistic. At this point, any intelligent decision that CC execs make is a good start. Such as this initiative to improve the process by which their credit card transactions are vetted.

For a company with one foot in the financial grave, Circuit City Stores Inc. is still showing a lot of life, staying focused on addressing nuts-and-bolts operational issues. In the latest news, announced by Vienna-based TARGUSinfo, we learn that the Richmond consumer electronics retailer is using TARGUSinfo's On-Demand Verification services in an effort to reduce chargeback penalties and payment fraud.
The on-demand services automatically evaluate data that customers supply in Web and call-center "card-not-present" purchases and instantly give Circuit City a contact quality rating for each proposed transaction. The rating is based upon whether a customer's name, address and phone number are accurate and all belong to the same person.
By automating approval of lower-risk transactions, Circuit City can intensify focus on higher-risk ones to reduce "chargebacks" or bank penalties for fraudulent purchases.

While not as noticeable up front to consumers as efforts to improve inventory management, or the quality of their sales force, the importance of cleaning up their transaction verification can have a very real impact on their bottom line. Ongoing problems with transaction verification can be thought of as the death-of-a-thousand-cuts.

After all, if there's trouble with reconciling credit card transactions, do you think the banks are just going to eat it if there are losses? Hardly.

So, as much as I like to have fun at Circuit City's expense, I'll give credit where it's due, so to speak.

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