In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many in the hardest-struck areas are without power and heat two weeks later.

A superstorm will do that. People—especially those who live near the coast—understand the risk they have chosen to take. When a storm the size of Sandy hits, they know things are going to get rough.

What they don’t understand is silence on the other end of the line when they call their power company. On Long Island, for instance, many customers of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) reportedly received no answer when they called the company, and LIPA’s website was considered by many to be largely useless.

It took the company more than a week to communicate to customers in heavy flood areas that power in individual homes would not be restored until LIPA deemed each dwelling safe.

These days, LIPA is decidedly unlikeable.

In his new book Likeable Business, social guru Dave Kerpen explains the critical importance of making a company likeable. “In a hyperconnected, social media-driven society, businesses can no longer afford to be mediocre,” Kerpen writes. “Businesses large and small must be obsessed with their customers, making and keeping them happy.”

Restoring power to hundreds of thousands after a hurricane is difficult; communicating with customers is comparatively easy.

When customers feel angry or ignored these days, they’re not shy about it. Companies’ reputations are made and broken on social media.

Just ask LIPA.