Monica Eaton-Cardone is an executive of many talents. Not only is she a successful entrepreneur and executive, but she is also a “technology innovator, payments expert, marketer, ecommerce risk specialist, consumer behavior analyst,” and “customer retention veteran.”
She also started young. Monica Eaton-Cardone began her career as an entrepreneur when she was still a teenager, and she even managed to sell her first business before she turned 20 years old. Her career as an entrepreneur has been long and taken many turns, but through it all, she has acquired invaluable skills and abilities that allowed her to achieve success as a leader and business owner.
Throughout her career, Monica Eaton-Cardone has created several successful businesses that took full advantage of her “ability to analyze and manage risks and develop agile products and technologies.” Currently, she plans to realize her passion of improving “ecommerce retention through standardization.”
In 2012, Monica Eaton-Cardone founded Chargebacks911, which became one of the industry’s top companies. The company has enjoyed growth rates that exceeded all expectations, delivering “accountable, intelligent solutions with absolutely unrivaled results” to its clients.
At present, Monica Eaton-Cardone is the COO of Chargebacks911, as well as CIO of its parent company, Global Risk Technologies. She has also co-founded the company eConsumer Services to “bridge the gap between merchant and customer relations.”
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Monica Eaton-Cardone: Of course, I’m always grateful for the opportunity share my story!
Before entering the payments industry, I actually started out as an eCommerce merchant. We were seeing a spike in chargebacks, and had no way of knowing where they were coming from or even what they meant. It got to the point where we were in danger of breaching the chargeback thresholds established by Visa and Mastercard.
I spent so much time and money looking for a solution, but nothing offered what I needed. I realized that if I wanted to solve the problem, I would need to come up with my own solution. I devoted myself to learning everything possible about chargebacks and payments and, in the end, developed a comprehensive strategy to stop them.
The word got out and I started getting requests from other merchants who were experiencing the same problem. I soon realized that this was so much bigger than just me. I started Chargebacks911 in 2012 as a consulting operation, initially intending to operate it as a side business. The demand for our services grew rapidly, and before long, the demands went far beyond what I’d ever anticipated. Chargebacks911 quickly became my main focus.
Since 2012, we’ve expanded into an international brand with 350 employees in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Monica Eaton-Cardone: When we first started out, we adopted an accelerated approach for everything. There was so much we wanted to accomplish all at once. I think many startups go through this stage, and while it works initially, you can’t maintain that breakneck pace for long.
As we became more established and were working with more institutional brands, we needed to pivot and create a more stable strategy. It was a learning curve, for sure. We were basically making up our path as we went. It was hard to feel like we would ever reach a plateau and feel stable enough to really dig deep again. It took a period of trial-and-error, but we finally found our way to a sustainable position and were able to focus on growing.
I think what motivated all of us was knowing that we had something really special on our hands. We had the ability and the knowledge to really change the game for merchants, and we knew that our solutions and technology were revolutionary in the payments space. This gave us the drive to keep pushing even through moments of uncertainty.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Monica Eaton-Cardone: Probably the biggest mistake I made was choosing to listen to self-professed “experts” over my own experience. It’s funny to think about now, but it definitely wasn’t at the time!
I was desperate for a solution for chargebacks, so I went with conventional wisdom, which said it was better not to react. Even though I knew most of the disputes filed against me were invalid, I was advised not to fight back, and so I didn’t. Months went by, and I was losing more and more money with each one. Finally, I said “enough is enough.” I decided to handle things my own way, which proved to be the right decision.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Monica Eaton-Cardone: People matter — At the end of the day, the people are the most important part and ought to be treated with respect.
Lead with integrity — Remember that your brand will reflect who you are as a person.
You get what you put in — You have to be committed and ready to work the hardest in the room.
Innovation is key — There will always be another company that figures out how to do what you’re doing. You have to constantly look for new ways to challenge the status quo.
Don’t be afraid of failure — Fear will hold you back more than you realize. You have to be ready to take the plunge.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Monica Eaton-Cardone: I sincerely believe that all businesses should be judged on how they improve the world and use their platform for good. When there is a greater purpose beyond the day-to-day work, I think that employees are more likely to be motivated and invested.
For example, we have our own “Charity Challenge,” through which we make weekly donations to different charities in the area. They are nominated by employees, so it’s an exciting and rewarding experience to invest in organizations that are meaningful to us and are doing fantastic work for our communities. We also run an organization called Paid for Grades, which offers prizes to local students for their academic performance.
This greater purpose also impacts customers because they recognize that you truly care and are committed to making a difference.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Monica Eaton-Cardone: You need to strike a balance between what I call “negative” and “positive” friction. The former are just unnecessary roadblocks that slow the process and divert customers away from converting. The latter have little-to-no impact on the customer experience, but fulfill an important role, like security or preventing buyers’ remorse.
For an eCommerce retailer, for instance, clunky and slow sites, poorly-designed product pages, and confusing checkout processes are all examples of negative friction. You want to eliminate these wherever possible. In contrast, an example of positive friction could be velocity checks, which prevent the same customer from completing numerous purchases in a quick burst, which can prevent fraud.
While I used eCommerce retail as an example, that friction dichotomy exists for just about every business.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Monica Eaton-Cardone: The most obvious strategy would be to provide responsive and adaptable customer support. I always encourage businesses to provide round-the-clock live service wherever possible. This should be across multiple channels of response including phone, email, and social media.
You can also build your brand by giving back to the communities that support you. I mentioned earlier that we at Chargebacks911 are driven by our philanthropic efforts. This will have the added bonus of building a positive impression of your brand over time.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Monica Eaton-Cardone: You can follow me on Twitter (@Monica_Eaton), as well as on LinkedIn, and on my own personal blog. I contribute regular guest content to a number of sites including Forbes, PaymentsSource, and other outlets focused on payments, finance, and business leadership. Following me on social is a great way to keep tabs on everything I publish!
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
Monica Eaton-Cardone: Thank you so much for having me!