How do you keep customers happy? It’s an age-old question, and one that businesses continuously ask themselves, answer and ask again. Today, customers are spoiled for choice; advancing technologies have expanded marketplace offerings and increased brand competition, transforming the consumer happiness puzzle once again. Responsiveness, politeness, consistency and responsibility are no longer the gold standard; they are, in fact, basic requirements of customer interaction.

With a growing number of innovative tools and resources available, customer happiness can and should be fully ingrained at the heart of company processes. Even the top-down approach of business has shifted from focusing solely on generating revenue to earning and retaining loyal customers. It’s the same principle valued in sports, that “defense wins championships.” It’s no secret that retaining customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones, especially considering the rise of customer acquisition costs over the past decade. As the effects of customer influence grow more essential to companies’ success, the possibility of failure will irrefutably depend on how you relate to your customers.

Customer Relationship Management platforms — CRMs — have been developed to track the health of customer interactions. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t track it,” is an adage that’s always echoing in the background. But what if we’ve been pouring over the wrong data, asking the wrong questions and ignoring an element that’s far more direct and significant?

The net promoter score (NPS) is a relatively new tool which asks customers, “how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” on a scale from 0 to 10. Respondents who score 6 or below are deemed Detractors, who won’t recommend your company to others. Respondents who score 7 or 8 are considered Passives (think of them as fair-weather fans) and your most loyal clients (who score 9 or 10) are called Promoters. Companies now often use these three buckets to identify and track how their customers truly feel about them.

So, how do you add value to customer experience?

I’ll give you a hint: it’s not by lowering prices. Being the cheapest provider at market is a strategy to win customers, but it’s not a long-term solution for retaining them — it can also commoditize your business.

Value is the one constant merit that customers will always demand. No matter how quick your email response time or professional your demeanor may be, customer satisfaction will come down to one question; is the service I’m paying for helping me reach my goals or is it wasting my resources? Now, there’s more than one way to learn exactly what about your value proposition is most important to your customers (and how to deliver it).

Prioritize customer feedback.

Feedback can be very effective in helping increase your company’s value to clients. Don’t just gather feedback and let it collect dust. Use your customer feedback — good or bad — and take advantage of opportunities to show them that you not only hear their opinions, but you value them. Whether it be through arduous adjustments like product modifications or gestures as simple as a thank you email, it’s essential to demonstrate how seriously you take your customers.

How do you get that customer feedback? By reaching out to have open dialogue with your clients. That approachability will enable you to consider their point of view and align your goals with their demands. Your business priorities and strategy should reflect that, especially if you receive the same invaluable feedback from multiple clients. Is revisiting that first version of a product feature more beneficial than updating your website or launching a new campaign? These are questions of profitability that you can only answer by recognizing and considering your customers’ needs.

Demonstrate industry expertise.

A second method for ensuring customer happiness is establishing yourself — your company, your brand — as a trusted expert in your field. Then you are able to become more than just a vendor, but a mentor as well. If you only talk to your customers about your product or service, and fail to provide a holistic view — context — of the industry in which you operate, you don’t bring much to the table or your customer relationships. At least, not as much as your competitors who do pursue thought leadership goals.

Industry clout strengthens relationships because it fortifies trust and can provide opportunities for stickiness down the road. Ask yourself this question, who would you trust more: a doctor who has seen an x-ray of your current injury or a doctor who has seen that x-ray and read through your entire medical history? The more informed your customers know you to be, the more confident they will feel in your ability to deliver the best product on the market.

But how do you implement that kind of approach?

Now that you have a couple new arrows in your quiver, how do you successfully utilize them? The first step is to determine the best way (or ways) to prompt customer feedback. Ask them what’s working well, what’s not and what’s on their wish list. Next, begin investing in those customer relationships and familiarize yourself with their pain points. Maybe you have solutions for them — a helpful partner you can refer them to for support, or insight into how other customers have overcome similar challenges. If you follow these two steps, you will be able to maintain a loyal customer base.