Since these conversations are taking place anyway on the web, why not be proactive and use them to your advantage? Customer reviews sections on websites are becoming increasingly popular as it gives your customers a chance to evaluate your product or service which gives them the message that their opinion matters to you. It also gives potential customers the chance to see what others are saying about your brand. Of course, if you do provide a customer review section on your website, you have to expect that there will be negative comments because someone, somewhere, is going to have a beef about your brand. You can't please all of the people all of the time. Unfortunately, people tend to write more negative reviews as a way to let off steam whereas those who are happy with your product or service might not be as inclined to take the time to share their positive experiences with others.
However, all is not lost with negative comments about your brand. As a business owner, you can use this to your advantage as well. Listening to your customer's complaints can help you identify problems/issues with your company offering(s). Naturally listening is not enough; you have to act on what you read and make the necessary adjustments or corrections to improve your product/service. Customer reviews also offer business owners a way to use information from social media conversations (unsolicited customer reviews) as insights to make improvements that will directly affect sales. It is so important for you to pay attention to what is being said about your brand in order to manage your reputation. When you read a negative comment, you will have the opportunity to respond and hopefully do some damage control. If the complaint is an unreasonable one, make sure you respond with professionalism and don't berate, belittle or be rude to the customer. Remember that anything and everything you do on the web has an effect on your reputation and your brand because you are your brand.
Customer reviews, both solicited (sections included on your website) and unsolicited (conversations taking place on social networking sites and industry forums) provide feedback to business owners about how their brand is being perceived and experienced. If acted upon to provide a better product or service, they will improve your company's offering(s) and will enhance the shopping experience for potential customers who want more information.