Many marketers think of word-of-mouth advertising as the holy grail, and for one simple reason: it’s incredibly effective. In our digitally connected modern world, the humble online review is often seen as the equivalent of word-to-mouth advertising. Many buyers use these reviews to find local businesses to patronize and learn more about which to avoid. Don’t leave the impact of your customer reviews up to chance—instead, use a few simple steps to maximize the positive benefits of online reviews for your business.

Get Proactive: Respond to Every Review

If a customer approaches you in your business with a compliment, you’ll thank them warmly for their business. With a complaint, you’ll work to resolve the problem in an amicable way. Apply these same simple techniques to your reviewers online and you’ll be in good shape.

Most review sites allow business owners to respond to their client feedback. When someone shares positive feedback, thank them and explain that you can’t wait to see them again soon. Negative and unpleasant reviewers should also get a response. Be thoughtful and kind in your comments and when possible, invite the client to stop in again for a better experience. Most importantly, don’t let frustration or anger get the better of you.

Responding to reviews shows other customers that you’re engaged and committed to providing great customer service. It can even result in an unhappy customer rethinking his opinion. Either way, you’ve demonstrated your business’ approach to providing great customer service, which will leave a positive impression for others.

Build a Complete Profile

Of course, the reviews themselves are the main dish of sites like Yelp, but business owners also have a role to play beyond simple responses. Use review sites to highlight the key selling points of your business. Complete your business profile in the greatest detail possible, and upload a full gallery of images. Remember, when catering to a customer who doesn’t know your company or your product, you want to help fill in as many gaps as possible.

Encourage More Reviews

Many review sites have clauses that explicitly forbid soliciting reviews from your customers, but don’t let that stop you from publicizing your business’ presence on these sites. Consider adding a small review logo to your website footer and business cards, which will remind customers to share their feedback. You might also want to think about advertising with a review site. Many of these destinations allow businesses to offer special deals to clients who learn about them through a review.

Engaging with customers in a way that reflects positively on your business is nothing new. As the old adage goes, the customer is king. By treating a review site as a public forum for maintaining positive relationships with existing clients and resolving disputes, you can harness the power of these destinations for your business. Ultimately, building a review response strategy alongside your social media campaigns and traditional advertising initiatives can help supercharge your company’s marketing prowess and earn you more business.