This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
In 1992, marriage counselor Gary Chapman published a book about the five universal ways of demonstrating love, The Five Love Languages. Since then, it has spent more than 350 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.
While researching our new book, Winning on Purpose: The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Customers, we found that companies that treat their customers with love outperform their competitors and boast happier employees. So what might leaders learn from Chapman’s insights? Let’s tick through each of the five.
Customer love language 1: Words of affirmation
Customers want to know a company values them and their loyalty. American Express, a leader in customer NPS, famously lists a “Member Since” date on the front of every credit card.
Customer love language 2: Quality time
As the world moves digital, new experiences can bring frustrations—not being able to reach a live person to resolve an issue, time-consuming processes to cancel a subscription, etc. But well-designed digital experiences can help companies devote just the right amount of quality time to customers and show you want to make their lives easier.
Customer love language 3: Acts of service
Many customers today value brands that enrich their lives and make the world a better place. One example: To help the tens of thousands fleeing a life-threatening crisis in Afghanistan, hosting platform Airbnb partnered with resettlement agencies to fund temporary stays for 20,000 Afghan refugees, waiving fees and providing support for hosts who offered short-term stays for free or at a discount. Now they hope to fund another 20,000.
Customer love language 4: Gifts
For customers, it truly is the thought that counts. The monetary value of a gift is far less important than the thoughtfulness, the surprise, and the delight in the moment. And gifts aren’t necessarily physical things. An experience can also be a gift, as many companies in the travel and leisure industry understand well.
Customer love language 5: Touch
Many companies increasingly pair digital options with live interaction and retail experiences that are real and human. Think of digitally native customer-love champion Warby Parker, which has expanded its retail store network as customers seek out hybrid experiences. Now they’re in person and human when they need to be (when getting an eye exam, for example) and not when they don’t (say, when replacing yet another pair of lost eyeglasses).