If this United Airlines debacle or the way Justine Stacco’s life blew up because of an unfunny tweet are anything to go by, the biggest lesson brands need to learn today is how to behave like everyone is watching.

The impact of one poor Customer Experience cannot be contained anymore. You consumers live on Twitter and Facebook. They have the power to stream every experience live to the whole world. The repercussions of ignoring the power of social media to make or break your brand’s reputation can never be sufficiently overstated. And these repercussions are the worst in industries where at least one of the customer touch points is face-to-face. There is no time for review and approvals anymore. It’s all live, it’s all out there, and it can no doubt be subjective. But brands have no other solution but to be prepared for everything.

Instant gratification is the order of the day
Thanks to the social media led culture of quick service, immediate answers, and constant, instantaneous feedback, digital natives are lower on patience than any generation before them. And rightfully so, because they are also busier than ever before. Waiting for three days for the technician to arrive to resolve a broadband issue is no longer acceptable, quick service restaurants have never needed to be this true to their name, and not taking action on an angry customer tweet for 24 hours is just not an option anymore. Whether your customer’s feedback comes in the form of a post purchase survey or a caustic comment on Facebook, take action immediately. Before the retweets go out of hand!

Control the urge to ‘set the record straight’
Customer Service and Experience are subjective, like most human interactions. Several factors can be at play – from cultural and generational nuances to the customer having a bad day. You may not agree with the feedback you get but at all costs, avoid public disagreements or worse, mud-slinging matches. Pick up the phone and talk. There is nothing that a real, human conversation and an apology where it is due cannot resolve.

Be consistent in your response
Treat every customer like he is your first, most important one. You can’t have varying degrees of problem solving and response times for different customers. Move away from template responses by all means, but a standard operating procedure when it comes to response time is critical.

Embrace bad feedback
As Jay Baer of Convince and Convert says, “The most overrated thing is praise.” But remember, customers are more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. According to a study, one 1 in 26 customers lodge a formal complaint. The rest just change brands. So brands need to be grateful for having more channels from which they gauge response and take action before they lose customers.

Fortunately, while the speed of feedback and response and the general impact of a bad experience have changed with social media and digital natives, the very basics of Customer Experience and Customer Service have not. It is still very much about listening, responding, and resolving. Brands just need to adapt to the speed and reach of the new platforms. A good Customer Experience Measurement program takes this into account. Does yours?