No matter your industry, creating a loyal consumer base is one of the most important fundamental elements of any successful business. According to research, on average, repeat customers are responsible for generating 40 percent of a store’s revenue and are willing to spend 300 percent more than first-time customers. So, if nothing else, your business’s profits largely rely on returning customers.

But wanting to do something, and knowing how to do it, are two entirely different things. Many businesses fail because they are unable to identify and engage their consumer base. To that end, ForceBrands has rounded up three of the best, experience-proven and statistic-backed ways to develop that base, from increasing human interaction to creating shared values.

1. The human touch
According to a recent survey conducted by the Huffington Post and Interactions, 90 percent of people would prefer to speak with another human at the beginning of any customer service interaction, while only 3 percent of those surveyed preferred dealing with interactive voice response systems. Generally speaking, consumers would rather deal with another person rather than with a machine, even while more and more businesses are relying on technologies to handle the bulk of their customer service needs. Making it easier for your customers to get through to a real person, instead of going through layers of automated service is a simple way to make your company stand out. It can also go a long way in creating a loyal consumer base — 73 percent of consumers report that they fell in love with a brand thanks to a friendly customer service representative.

2. Going above and beyond
Many companies today have fallen into the trap of doing the bare minimum — they’ll issue refunds without trying to fix or apologize for the problem, only respond to urgent requests and mishaps, and generally move very slowly to meet their customers’ needs. Things have gotten so bad that, according to the Harvard Business Review, 84 percent of customers report that their expectations had not been exceeded in their last interaction with customer service. In order to set your business apart, and create a loyal customer base, going above and beyond is key. Easy ways to do this? Always respond to emails promptly, regardless of how urgent the request or question. Consult with potential clients even if they aren’t yet customers. Create an online or in-person forum where the experts in your company can offer advice and tips to the general public. Zappos is a fantastic example of a company that goes above and beyond for their customers and has created one of the most loyal consumer bases in their industry.

3. Create shared values
Millennials and Gen Z-ers, are now the two biggest portions of the U.S. population. Nearly 72 million and 86 million respectively, they have an immense amount of buying power and are poised to receive a collective $30 trillion from their baby boomer parents and grandparents. They’ve also indicated a clear preference for brands that align with their values. According to Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 66 percent of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, and 81 percent of millennials even expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship. Whether it’s creating a movement (like TOMS shoes “One for One” program) or publically contributing to a variety of different programs and causes (like Microsoft which is notorious for how much they care), finding a way to highlight some of your company’s core values is a great way to allow customers to align themselves with you and to create a loyal consumer base. After all, the Harvard Business Review revealed that 64 percent of consumers who said they had a strong relationship with a brand cited shared values as the major reason.