Ever seen that Black Mirror episode where every person is rated by interactions with their peers and their overall “rating” determines their lot in life? We’re not there yet as a society, thankfully. But as a business owner, you’re not that far off.

Here’s why customer reviews matter. Preview: It’s not all doom and gloom and creepy smiles. You have more control than you think.

“Don’t take our word for it…”

The first thing to know about customer reviews is that they’re powerful because they’re not you, tooting your own horn through your marketing materials. Yes, you should still toot your own horn through your marketing to make plain why you’re the best at what you do and how you’re different from the rest, but independent reviews are viewed as much more credible to prospective customers and can augment the marketing efforts. It’s called “social proof” and it’s here to stay.

Every star up represents 5-9% more business

There is an actual value to those stars on sites like Yelp, in case you’ve ever wondered. And though it may feel like a battle for each one as you try to manage a (hopefully) steady stream of incoming reviews, it is a battle worth fighting. Why? Because you could see a bottom-line boost of 5-9% from each star you see added.

and while it’s important to keep your star rating high…

…The “Greasy pizza” review could actually be good for business

As much as we humans crave quality, we inherently distrust things that appear too perfect. It plants seeds of doubt: “Do they pay for their reviews?” “Is their large extended family responsible for that five-star rating?” In short, if you own a pizza shop, let there be occasional grease. Some foodie, somewhere is always going to talk smack, and as long as it’s a one or two-off, think of it as your dimples of credibility and move right along.

It’s how people find your business online

As a smart business owner you’ve probably looked into SEO (search engine optimization) and how key it is to your business — whether your customers are buying your products or services online or off. Review sites are key to helping your business pop up when someone searches for your offering on Google, Bing and other search engines. Advanced tip: You can even look into microformatting your reviews for above-the-fold indexing.

More about Google’s rich answers here.

So how do you get more reviews?

Got it, reviews are super important. So how do I get them? There are several different ways to get reviews, but the key is to be unafraid to ask for them outright. Passive reviews may come in, but you will have more control over the kind of reviews you get if you ask the right customers, at the right time. You could send out an email to a select list of loyal customers, put info on a sandwich board outside your store, and have your staff hand out a postcard to customers who’ve clearly had a positive experience. And no, it isn’t cheating to offer a small incentive. Think of cost-effective ways to entice your customers to follow through and post. Remember, when they do, the reviews will pay for themselves.