Gone are the days when the wheelings and dealings of corporate executives were wholly removed from customers' purchasing decisions.

These days, people want to know about the brand behind the products or services for which they're shelling out hard-earned cash. They want to feel like their own values align with the values of whatever company they're buying from. These insights can inspire customers to remain loyal to a brand or motivate them to take their dollars elsewhere.

In response to this trend, businesses are pivoting toward values-driven mission statements. (Hence the proliferation of missions beginning with "We believe...") Even if your company isn't interested in making a mission out of its values, it's still important to identify the values that will define your company and resonate with customers. Here are five corporate values all but guaranteed to increase customer acquisition and retention.

1. Transparency

The importance of brand transparency is generating a lot of buzz of late, and for good reason. Consumers want to know about the inner workings of the brands they buy from, down to how materials were sourced, how products were made, and how the company came to be.

In exchange for this transparency, customers are willing to pay more for products, purchase a wider range of products from a specific brand, switch to brands with greater transparency, and remain loyal to these brands for life.

2. Honesty

At first glance, "transparency" and "honesty" might seem like the same thing. But there are important differences. Transparency is about clearly representing how your products are made and what your brand stands for. Meanwhile, honesty is about providing honest representations of the value you can provide to your customers.

It's a common tenet of content marketing that you should never promise value in an email subject line or article header that you don't actually provide in the body content. The same idea applies here. In product descriptions and marketing materials, you should only promise what you can actually deliver. Be honest about the value your product or service can provide to customers, and communicate this in a way that will make sense in their own lives. Delivering on your promises will enhance trust between your customers and your brand.

3. Empathy

Today's consumers want to feel like they're more than a number. They place a premium on customer service to the point that it can make or break the consumer relationship. Up to 68 percent of customers will stop buying from a brand if they experience poor customer service. On the flip side, customers are willing to pay more , remain brand loyal, and practice brand advocacy when they feel a brand delivers exceptional customer service.

That's where empathy comes in. Practicing empathy in customer service interactions--whether these occur online, in person, or over the phone--helps humanize relationships with customers and assures them the brand is invested in their satisfaction. The drive to understand customers should also motivate brands to solicit customer feedback and take action on those insights. This, in turn, will convey that the brand cares about the customer experience.

4. Consumer advocacy

This points goes hand in hand with the idea of empathy, but it also takes things a step further. Consumer advocacy means utilizing insights into consumers' needs and pain points to provide real solutions that make a difference in customers' lives.

Startup Willow & Werth does this well: The casket company noticed the funeral industry tends to pray on the bereaved by jacking up casket prices. So the business decided to advocate for consumers by selling quality caskets at significantly lower costs and cutting out the funeral directors as middlemen. Per this example, practicing consumer advocacy is an exceptional way to demonstrate to customers that you are truly on their side. And that's going to breed brand loyalty.

5. Ethical business practices

Millennial consumers are driving demand for ethical business practices. Customers increasingly believe that companies should invest in more than their own financial gain. They want companies to support workers' rights, invest in environmental sustainability, and practice inclusiveness (by, for example, hiring for diversity and/or refusing to discriminate against customers from different ethnic backgrounds). When brands fail to live up to these ethical standards, consumers are willing to take their business elsewhere.

These values have all been proven to generate more (and more loyal) customers. But it's not enough to slap these words on your company's "About" page and call it a day. Customers can tell when a brand is walking the walk versus when it's blowing hot air. In order for these values to mean anything to customers, your business needs to live and breathe them every day.