Most companies - and especially corporations - only give lip service to what their customers want. Their focus is the bottom line and customer service is an expense they wish they could eliminate. That is why service often does not have a seat at the table; marketing is seen as an income generator while service is seen as a cost they want to make go away.
There needs to be an entire change of focus and realization of the importance of service to generating new sales. Forward facing employees are the people who keep the customer happy - or don't. If you treat your own people well and with respect and enable them to treat your customers right your business thrives.
For that to happen you have to reward decision making and actually give your employees the power to make your customers happy. No amount of "empowering" speechmaking will turn workers afraid of being disciplined or constrained by control freak managers into great customer advocates.
Social media is going to make increasingly obvious what many of us already know: that corporations do not care about their customers - they only care about their bottom line. Now is a great time for small businesses to get this right.
Make it easy for customers to provide feedback directly AND anonymously (because many won't otherwise) and LISTEN to them. For every person who complains or makes a suggestion dozens or even 100+ more have the same concerns. Customers want to be heard more than anything else. Do not fear complaints because they mean someone cared enough to say something.
Respond and you will create brand advocates. Ignore or delete complaints - especially online - and you flame the fires. Deleting or blocking is a huge mistake because then the angry person will expand where they complain and others will join them and you end up with a firestorm like the one Applebees has going right now. Brands have to learn how to do social media right - and the sooner the better.