I was recently reading online about the activities of a competitor. The person making the post was complaining that when they had made some (in their opinion highly justified) criticism of the organisation on the company forum, their posts were deleted and their online store was cancelled. Hardly great customer service.
While this example is pretty appalling, it's very easy to be tempted to behave in a similar way. None of us like to hear negative things, particularly if they reflect badly on us.
Let me ask you a question, what do your customers think about you, your product or the service you offer? Do you even know who your customers are?
If you already know, congratulations, that's an impressive achievement. Chances are though, you don't, especially if you are providing something that has some sort of mass appeal.
Understanding your customers is essential for any business to succeed. While there are many good techniques I believe a great first is to establish an online community or social presence.
My son has been thinking about starting a business. The problem is that to be a capitalist, you need, well, capital. And he doesn't have much. But neither did Alan Sugar or Richard Branson when they started, so what is the point?