The increasing power of social media in our society was demonstrated perfectly this week.

A story by the BBC explained how a train passenger posted a tweet complaining about the heating being turned off during her journey.

Much to her surprise, the train operators promptly picked up her complaint and arranged to have the heating switched back on immediately so she could be warm for the rest of her journey.

This story is a perfect example of how social media enables companies to form a closer relationship with their customers than ever before.

In this case, the interaction may have started off as a negative comment, but it allowed the train operator to respond promptly and resolve the situation – leaving it in a positive light.

If your customers do have a gripe, you would much rather hear about it and hopefully fix the issue, than leave them to go away unhappy and grumbling to scores of other potential customers without you knowing a thing about it.

Use social media to encourage as much interaction as you can between yourselves and your customers. Allow them to feel close to you and able to comment (in both positive and negative ways) about the services or products you offer. Customer feedback is a great way for you to continually improve, and social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Google + have made this easier than ever.

Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, told the BBC: “One of the key things that we’re seeing in the changing world we’re all living in is that we want to have better dialogue, not just monologue, with our organisations.”