By Kevin Leyes, Chairman of Leyes Enterprises and CEO of Leyes Media and Team Leyes

Feedback plays an incredibly prominent role for companies today. Social media has become a direct link between the consumer and the company providing the product or service. From any perspective, feedback should be seen as favorable point for both the company and the consumer. 

It provides a direct and simple way to understand what consumers want and need from your product or service, and many consumers are eager to express their opinions -- both positive and negative. 

Why is feedback important for your company?

It's impossible to deny the influence that feedback can have within a company. Many important decisions depend on it. Let's take a look at some of the reasons behind its importance:

1. It influences future business decisions.

When you receive similar feedback from multiple customers, it could be a sign that you need to update some of your business decisions. That may include changing how you package a product or making improvements to certain processes within the company, for example.

2. It allows you to generate a connection with the customer.

Feedback facilitates direct connections with customers. They have the opportunity to express their opinions and ideas, and when you acknowledge or implement their feedback, it makes them feel important.

3. It provides insight into consumer preferences.

Feedback is a great way to gain insights into buyers' and consumers' tastes and needs based on the product or service you offer. This represents an excellent opportunity to stay current in the marketplace. 

4. It gives you a chance to uncover product defects.

Customers can be your best resource to detect if your product has any weaknesses or failures. You may be too close to the situation to identify a problem that a customer would notice right away.

How can you generate feedback?

Thanks in large part to social media, the number of ways in which you can encourage feedback has increased considerably. Whether you're conducting surveys or social media polls, here are some effective strategies to generate the most productive feedback: 

1. Ask simple questions.

Complexity can frighten customers away and create a barrier to communication. Make your survey easy to understand by asking simple and direct questions that lead to simple and direct answers.

2. Encourage interaction.

Encouraging people to comment on social media will not only generate more interaction, but may also attract the attention of new customers who are impressed by your outreach and responsiveness.

3. Use a variety of platforms.

Make use of different digital platforms. When you don't focus your efforts on one medium, your target audience has the opportunity to comment from the social network of their choice. 

How can you handle negative feedback?

What happens when the comments your customers leave on a public forum are negative? Criticism, when not handled properly, can have a significant impact on your brand image. 

Social media platforms can be a double-edged sword, and marketing is no exception. It's not uncommon to find negative comments about your company or business online. So, how can you handle them in a positive and productive way? 

The company-customer relationship is hugely important, so it is necessary to pay attention to those comments and turn them to your advantage whenever possible. Here's how:

1. See the opportunity instead of the criticism.

It's difficult to view negative criticism in a positive light, especially when your company is used to having a spotless track record. However, don't get bogged down in the negative feelings caused by the comment. Recognize it as an opportunity to evaluate aspects that can be improved within your organization. 

2. Keep it focused.

A negative comment invites you to reflect. It is important to keep the focus on improving the operability of your company or business. That means only extracting the information that will bring you value to improve. 

3. Do not ignore negative comments. 

A common mistake is to ignore the negative comments. This is a bad look and will only negatively reflect on your responsiveness and attention to customers. Instead, try to respond promptly and politely. Remember, your interaction will be seen by other established and potential customers. 

4. Try to provide solutions.

The best way to deal with a negative comment is to propose solutions. Evaluate the comment, and if necessary, offer possible solutions to amend their dissatisfaction. At all times, welcome the interaction. 

Comments and feedback represent a fundamental contribution to the growth and positioning of your company. Trying to maintain constant interaction with the customer is essential.