In marketing speak there’s a term called “social proof.” It boils down to the phenomenon of conformity. Our human nature is to follow the actions of others in order to be perceived as in the know. As a business owner, this phenomenon works to your advantage if you can garner positive customer testimonials and rave reviews, and then leverage them to your advantage. Here’s how to turn social proof into more loyal customers.

Ask the right questions

If you ask a yes-or-no question such as “Did you like our product/service?” you might get a one-word answer. Even if the answer is positive, one word doesn’t lend itself to a compelling testimonial. Likewise, if you don’t offer specific prompts, your customers might view the task of writing something as daunting. Make it easy.

Keep your questions specific and open-ended to encourage your customers to tell a quick story. The best testimonials reveal a problem and then a solution. First, ask your clients what issue they were looking to solve that led them to seek out your service or product. Then ask what results they achieved once they employed your service or utilized your product. You want to uncover how their lives have changed so that you can share that information with others.

Check in with your clients frequently

Gather testimonial or review content throughout your relationship with a client, not just after you’ve provided a service. An easy way to do this is to prepare emails you can send out at targeted intervals.

When a customer first signs on with your business, reach out and ask why. This is a great time to gather information about the problem or frustration that a client wishes to solve. Find out why the customer chose your brand or service as opposed to a different one.

Designate another check-in time once you’ve been working with a client for a few weeks or have enjoyed repeat business with that person. Now’s the time to ask how your offerings have affected their initial pain point and what they would tell others about your business.

If the service you provide is temporary, follow up after project completion, as well. Find out what impact the project had on the client.

Leverage all avenues

If you get a great testimonial from a client via email, ask that client if you can include it on your website’s testimonial page. But don’t forget all of the other places you can also wrangle reviews or ask your clients to post. Ask if the person is willing to add their review as a LinkedIn testimonial or on other platforms like Facebook, Yelp, etc. Claim your profile on these social spaces and update your listing. Then, on your website, be sure to include links to your social media pages and any relevant review sites.

Make it fun

Develop a hashtag for customers to use on social media platforms and encourage customers to post with it. If you run a prolific Etsy shop selling custom-made furniture, for example, entice clients who’ve received their orders to post a pic of their new piece on Instagram, tagging your business and using your suggested hashtag in the process. Social photos can act as mini testimonials. To inspire these posts, run a promotional contest that offers a discount to the client who adds the best photo.

Address negative reviews immediately

If you’re seeking testimonials, be prepared for the occasional disappointed customer. Use constructive negative feedback as an opportunity to improve your business and work. Respond without getting defensive and demonstrate that you’re working to rectify any issues. Try these tips from Entrepreneur for addressing negative comments with class.