Customers may be sympathetic to the challenges that business having been facing in the current economy. But that sympathy doesn’t come with amnesty: 70% of US online consumers expect companies to try harder to provide superior online customer service in the current economy. (Source: North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009)

I was chatting recently with eBusiness executives about the importance of having customer service excellence as part of company culture. is frequently cited as a best example of customer service and company culture – and for good reason. Zappo’s #1 Core Value is to “Deliver WOW through service”. The company has embedded exceptional customer service into its DNA as a core value and essential part of its brand identity.

This raises the question: “How do you know if customer service is truly part of your culture?”

As a starting point, I recommend asking the following questions:

– Does your corporate mission statement include providing excellence in customer care and service?
– Is providing excellent customer care included in your long-term vision statement?
– Are customer service objectives well articulated within your company?
– Is measuring customer satisfaction embedded in your process for all customer-facing activities
– Do you have ongoing customer satisfaction improvement processes?
– Are employee performance metrics (including promotions, bonus, etc) – including senior positions – aligned with customer satisfaction?

If you answer “No” to any of these questions, you have likely identified an organizational weakness and an opportunity for improvement that will help you meet consumers’ high expectations.