The fear of negative feedback is one of the biggest factors causing some companies to hesitate in embracing customer-generated content. But Bazaarvoice clients know that “bad” reviews are really just opportunities to improve.

Improving your offering

The most obvious positive potential in negative reviews is the opportunity for your company to improve its products and services. Customer feedback helps companies discover weaknesses in their offering, and act on them to deliver a better customer experience.

Oriental Trading Company uses information gathered in negative reviews to work with manufacturers to improve hundreds of their toys and party supplies. This proactive quality management allows the company to discover and fix quality issues much earlier in the production process, saving the company the expense of excess inventory of faulty products after an item is introduced.

QVC uses negative reviews to take action on products and customer service and delivery issues, often by reaching out to directly customers. For example, when they recently discovered that a product had issues with quality and delivery, they contacted 900 customers with an offer to replace the product. They worked with the vendor to return the remaining product inventory and improve it. Internally, QVC executives hold monthly meetings to discuss all aspects of customer feedback to determine areas the company should emphasize and improve.

Building trust in your brand

The mere presence of negative feedback on your site builds transparency in your brand. Customers see that your online community hasn’t been white-washed with rose-tinted marketing speak. And taking this feedback a step further – listening to and acting on the opinions of dissatisfied customers – can build invaluable customer trust in your brand.

QVC took this step further to let customers know exactly what they do about poorly-reviewed products. In an online blog post by their Senior Vice President of Customer Service, Dan McDermott, the retailer detailed their process of low-rated product examination, improvement, and in some cases, elimination. Negative reviews are “how we learn and bring you products you want,” the email said.

Acting on negative feedback proves to your customers that you are listening – which is often all they really want. Ignoring your dissatisfied customers can be disastrous for your brand, especially with the presence of so many outlets for customers to voice their dissatisfaction. See the #amazonFAIL Twitter-storm fiasco as an extreme illustration of what can happen when your customers feel your brand isn’t listening.

If your customers have negative feedback, they will find a way to share it – whether you allow them to do so on your site or not. Plugging your ears and pretending you can’t hear it won’t make your customers’ dissatisfaction go away. Embrace negative feedback as an opportunity to improve your offering and build trust in your company, and you’ll find that “bad” reviews can be great for your brand.