One is silver, but the other is gold! The old song is talking about friends, but it’s equally true of your existing customers — they are your most valuable asset.

Long-term, loyal customers put money in your pocket with repeat business, new customer referrals and positive social media reviews. Here are eight tips to increase the LTV (lifetime value) of your customers.

Exceed Their Expectations

Giving customers more than you promised is a strategy that’s been proven successful time and time again. Throw in a bonus item with their order, offer a discount coupon for their next purchase, or deliver their package in two days instead of the five you promised.

Provide Outstanding Customer Service

Don’t make it hard for customers to get their problems resolved. You can convert complainers into satisfied customers with full warranty coverage, no-question return policies, multiple ways to reach customer service (email, phone, live chat) and prompt response.

Ask What They Want

Do you really know what your customers think of you? If not, you won’t be able to address problem areas in your business that are impacting your ability to retain customers. Start by frequently monitoring online reviews and reports from your customer service team. Take your information gathering to the next level with customer surveys; this data will also be useful for your marketing plan.

Become a Trusted Advisor

Not every contact with customers should be about making a sale. Position yourself as the go-to authority with communications about your field of expertise — blogs, email newsletters, Instagram or Facebook posts and so on. This not only shows customers how much you have to offer to the relationship, it helps keep your business at the top of their mind when they are ready to buy again.

Personalize Your Communications

Marketing data shows that using the customer’s name significantly increases response rates. And in this day and age of digital customization, it’s perfectly easy to include not only their name, but all sorts of relevant information in your email, direct mail piece or website sidebars/pop-ups. Consider showing similar items to the ones they looked at, complementary items to go with their purchase, a special offer for their birthday or anniversary, or a reminder that it’s time to renew their subscription or restock their favorite item.

Incentivize Their Loyalty

Reward your best customers for their repeat business with a frequent shoppers program, discounts for referring new customers, and discounts or freebies for sharing the word about your business on their social media pages. (Of course, all these activities benefit your business as well as the customers!)

Show the Inactives Some Love

Don’t just give up on customers you haven’t heard from in a year or more. A “we want you back” special offer may be all it takes to get them back on board. Your CRM software should be able to track and sort customers by their last active date, giving you an instant list to pursue.

Make the Sales Process More Convenient

Consider some advanced digital features that make it faster and easier for customers to shop and buy. Amazon, for example, stores existing customer information so that they can place an order with just one click. Many e-commerce websites allow customers to save their favorites as they browse, so they can find them again quickly when they’re ready to order. Fitness and beauty businesses email automatic reminders when it’s time for the next class or haircut. Grocery and drugstores offer scannable store cards that instantly access and process paperless coupons at checkout.

The LTV of your customers is much greater than the cost of goods and services they buy. They can also act as partners in promoting your brand and bringing in new customers. That’s why a customer retention plan is important to any business. Keep them happy, and you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come!