In Jeff Jarvis’ informative book “What Would Google Do?” he discusses how your worst customer is your best friend. When it comes to online business, the key is to create positive, mutually beneficial relationships with all your customers – even those who have previously experienced you when you might not have been at your best.

Go online and find out what people are saying about you. If you don’t know what people are saying about you, whether it’s good or bad, you won’t have adequate information to either improve or maintain your product line or level of service. If they are upset at you, you will see them blog about it on their own blogs and on several social sites. Complaints are more helpful than disgruntled customers who never buy from you again. At least these people give you a chance to make things right!

Respond to their blogs, tweets, and forums. Once you find people who are not happy with your product or service, ask them what you can do to remedy the situation. What would make them happy? If you need to replace the item, or upgrade the customer with a better product – one that they would really be happy with, do it. Just about anything the unhappy customer is interested in receiving from you to make up the difference from a negative to a positive is worth the price because the POSITIVE reaction and subsequent optimistic and encouraging blogging will generate more sales than the negative blogging that you probably lost!

When you hand over control to your customers, you start winning. They will tell you how to improve your product. They will tell you what they like and what they think stinks. You could also get a social proof seal on your site like Shopper Approved to find out exactly what your customers are thinking. Seals like this have proven to increase sales of products and services by 10% or more!

As with any off-line business, online business owners must protect their online reputation and their brand loyalty. One of the best ways to do this is to follow tweets, facebook pages, and other social media sites and forums where the common online consumer voices his or her opinion. You see, the truth is that people trust people far more than they trust businesses and business advertisers.

You can easily transform your relationship with your public as a business owner by giving consumers the ability to tell you what they really think about your product or service. When you improve the level of service that you provide to customers and potential customers, the level that consumers rate your business will improve. You will make more sales and your relationships with consumers will be more real and more loyal.

The single greatest transformative power of the internet and Google has little to do with technology or media or even business. It’s about people and making new, meaningful connections with them. It all comes back to relationships. You can turn your worst customer into your best customer.