Its going to be a recovery that only a statistician can love”. Mark Vitner, Wells Fargo Senior Economist cautions us against upbeat economic news. Most of us are still living the realities of the recession –being out of work, basic household budgets, and trying to save.

Malls are empty. Discount same-store sales are down  about 7% from a year ago. Teen clothing sales have given way to hand-me-downs (Abercrombie reports a 28% drop in sales!!). Macy and JCPenny’s sales are down over 10% from last year, even with their big sales.

 E-tailers are asking us how to do more with less and still preserve the customer experience that shoppers are used to. Here is my nuts-and-bolts top 10 list of to-dos:

  1. Design a successful shopping experience:  
    1. Structure your website with consistent navigation, theme, and use breadcrumbs to orient the shopper
    2. Go beyond search – give shoppers alternate ways to find information (ex:browse, guided discovery)
    3. Extend these principles to your self-help offering ( both to help with the shopping experience, and for customer service)
    4. Place chat links strategic points in the shopping experience
  2. Focus on converting browsers into buyers
    1. Use proactive chat to help browsers buy (this channel has a real ROI!)
    2. Use co-browse to help shoppers  with checking-out
  3. Use website monitoring to keep track of activities of your high value customers
  4. Target campaigns based on customer profiling and past purchase history – and send them from a customer service email address as they are more likely to get opened
  5. Make it easy for a shopper to ask a question- and get a useful answer  
    1. Consistently publish the communication channels that are offered to your customer base
    2. De-escalate inquiries by tying chat, email and knowledge channels together
    3. Guide customers to use the right communication channel for their inquiry
  6. Maximize agent productivity using automation capabilities built into eService tools (example: auto-responses, auto-suggestions, auto-classification)
  7. Make sure that  agents have all the knowledge that they need to answer a customer’s question
  8. Boost the effectiveness of temporary agents – give them the collaboration tools to reach out to subject matter experts and get the answers they need
  9. Keep a pulse on your business and your customer’s satisfaction (by using real time statistics, reports and enterprise feedback)
  10. If you are not doing as well as you should, be flexible enough to change.

Any other additions to this list? Thoughts?