It’s Valentine’s Day again, a moment when we’re obliged to make an extra effort to invest in our romantic relationships and remind our loved ones just how much we care. Some new relationships will undoubtedly be taken to a whole new level thanks to this annual social reminder.

Maintaining the health of a relationship, whether personal or professional, takes work— every day of the year. And for businesses, what’s necessary to maintain healthy customer relationships isn’t that different from what’s required in marriages and sustained relationships. While you may not be sending bouquets of roses to your customers today, surprising them with occasional treats remains one of the hallmarks of what can keep customer relationships thriving, year after year.

Check out some of the other parallels between great marriages and sustained relationships and great customer experiences:

1.) You know communication is crucial

From the very first hello, communication is the primary building block of human relationships. Allowing customers to engage with your company across any channel they want, answering promptly, and communicating proactively are essential to building and sustaining a lasting relationship.


2.) You both value transparency

Communication goes both ways in any relationship, and it deepens to the degree that both parties are willing to be transparent with each other. If you’re asking your customers for their SSN, birthdate, and mother’s maiden name, you should also be completely open and honest about how you intend to use the information. Social media engagement service Buffer, for example, has found success through embedding the value of transparency in everything it does, from making its employees’ salaries public to explaining to customers exactly how it spends their money.


3.) You build everything on a foundation of trust

Trust is established on the basis of communication, authenticity, and transparency, and everything else about a relationship depends on it. In business, following through on your promises, whether it’s up to you to return a package on time or to promptly issue a refund, is a sure way to earn trust between both parties.


4.) You’re invested in each other’s happiness

When you make your partner happy, they’ll usually want to reciprocate, creating a virtuous circle that never ends. So once you’ve earned a customer’s loyalty, don’t be surprised to find that customer rooting for you too, whether it’s by giving you a five-star Yelp review or upping their free membership to an annual paid subscription.


5.) Your relationship is always evolving

In any relationship, a shared sense of contentment is important, but the danger of too much contentment is complacency and stasis. Businesses need to be willing to take big risks to keep their customers interested, and if they’re also willing to be transparent about it throughout the process, customers will sincerely appreciate their efforts to keep the relationship growing—even if they sometimes fail.


6.) You inspire each other

In addition to always evolving, the best relationships are a source of mutual support and inspiration. For businesses, that means earning your customer’s loyalty every day by keeping them genuinely engaged. When your customers genuinely love using your product or service, there’s no greater support you’ll ever find to fuel your company’s growth. Consider the rapid success of Washington, D.C.-based &pizza, whose design-centric brand has so inspired its customers that many of them have had the company’s logo tattooed on their bodies.


7.) You make having fun a priority

One of the best ways to keep a relationship evolving and mutually inspiring is to continually seek new ways to make it fun. The world is littered with failed relationships that grew far too dour, serious and boring. Think of a brand like Zappos, which aims to make its customers smile through its unique brand of contact center training. By ensuring that your customers enjoy engaging with you, you’ll enjoy the relationship too.


8.) You both benefit from a shared history

The longer you’ve been with someone you love, the more inconceivable it becomes to part ways. Over time, you come to know the unique habits, desires, and preferences of your partner intimately. Today’s omnichannel customer experience leverages the power of shared history to continually remind customers why a company that knows them better than anyone else is a company worth staying with for life.


9.) You’re committed to a shared vision of the future

Finally, great relationships are, above all else, mutually beneficial, where each party gains far more from being together than either would alone. But embarking on a relationship is a journey, and the only mutually beneficial journey is one that involves a shared vision of where you’re going together and why. Therefore, every customer journey has to be informed by a clear sense of where a company and a customer are going together, and that shared vision needs to be reinforced at every step of the way. If you get that right, then you and your customer can both feel happily committed to a long shared journey to come.