Online customer reviews can serve as real-time feedback to helpcompanies detect supply-chain issues and product faults, accordingto the Wall Street Journal. At Wal-Mart, products with badreviews are removed from the Website until the issue is resolved,and at L.L. Bean, anything with a rating of less than three starsis removed and sent back to managers for retooling.

When reviews are anonymous, authenticity is an issue, andcompanies have been found paying for positive reviews on their ownsite or negative reviews on their competitors'. However, inWal-Mart's case, monitoring customer reviews allowed the company torespond when a prepaid wireless Internet stick it sold on itsWebsite was malfunctioning: The wireless carrier hadn't activatedthe sticks, and the company was able to turn them on and put themback up for sale within days.

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