The business world changes quickly, but one fact has stood the test of time: it costs your business less money to retain customers than it does to acquire new customers. While both are essential for growing your business, client retention is by far the most cost-efficient of the two strategies, with some data indicating that just a 5% boost in customer retention can lead to a 25% to 95% increase in profits. We’ll get to plenty of statistics later, but if you’re crunched for time, here’s the essential story that research tells us: no matter what industry you’re part of, which customers you’re targeting, or how long you’ve been operating, your business will benefit from the implementation of effective customer retention strategies.
The good news is that there are dozens of tactics your business can use to improve customer retention. Responding to online reviews is a simple yet powerful example that, as this article will explore, gives your business an opportunity to provide a better customer experience in several important ways. Read on to learn how and why replying to reviews can help your business keep valuable clients — plus, some revealing statistics that show why successful retention is so important in 2021 and beyond.
Why is Client Retention Important for Your Business or Agency?
Conventional wisdom says that client acquisition costs about five times more than client retention. Looking at recent data, the real value of customer retention might be even more significant. Just consider the following statistics (whose full list of sources is available here):
- You’re significantly more likely to make a sale to an existing customer. Your business has a 60% to 70% probability of selling to one of your current customers, versus a probability of just 5% to 20% when it comes to new customers.
- Existing customers are more likely to try your company’s new products. Planning on releasing a new item any time soon? You’re more likely to be successful selling it to an existing customer, who is 50% more likely to purchase it than a new customer.
- Client retention is an area where you can get a critical edge over your competitors. Approximately 44% of businesses report focusing on customer acquisition, but only 18% report focusing on customer retention — and fewer than half (42%) are able to “accurately measure the lifetime value of their customers,” according to SEMRush.
By the way — that statistic that client acquisition costs five times more than client retention? That’s the conservative estimate. According to Harvard Business Review, it actually ranges anywhere from five times more to 25 times more.
If you want to take a more technical look at this topic, we recommend checking out this blog post from e-commerce business Shopify, which goes into the nuts and bolts of calculating retention metrics like Average Order Value (AOV) and purchase frequency. Otherwise, let’s look at some of the factors that make review response such an effective strategy for retaining clients — including those who have had a bad experience with your brand.
Why Responding to Online Reviews is a Useful Client Retention Strategy
There are numerous customer retention strategies, from sending out newsletters and launching loyalty programs to offering subscription services and discounts. But each of these strategies, plus countless others like them, all share the same basic goal: giving a better experience to the customer (and hopefully, building brand loyalty in the process).
So just how important is customer service when it comes to client retention? Nearly nine out of 10 companies surveyed — about 89%, according to SEMRush — said that “excellent customer service” played “a huge role” in their ability to retain clients, underscoring the need to go the extra mile for customer satisfaction.
Responding to reviews is a cost-efficient way your team can immediately begin providing better customer service, regardless of what type of product you sell. Ignoring reviews, on the other hand, will cause you to lose control of the image and reputation your brand has carefully cultivated — and lose opportunities to cultivate brand loyalty. Not only are they helpful for SEO (a topic you can read more about here), owner responses also create valuable opportunities to show customer appreciation while giving your clients a more personalized and satisfying experience. Together, these factors can reduce the likelihood that clients will leave your business, as we’ll explore next.
Customer appreciation is more than just a polite gesture — it’s a business strategy that you neglect at your own peril. According to one study, an “attitude of indifference on [the] part of [the] service provider” was, by a wide margin, the number one reason why companies lost customers, accounting for 68% of losses compared to factors like dissatisfaction with products (14%), competing businesses (9%), or even the influence of friends and peers (5%).
Whether they’ve had a positive or negative experience with your business, customers — understandably — want to be acknowledged for sharing their time and feedback. In fact, additional research shows that the overwhelming majority of reviewers not only want but expect to receive owner responses, with only 9% saying they did not expect a response. Among those who did expect responses, 20% expected it within 24 hours, while another 26% expected it within 48 hours, highlighting the importance of not only responsiveness but speed.
Is your business or agency taking every step possible to satisfy these expectations? And if not, how much is it costing you each year?
Personalized Customer Experiences
Shopify and Hubspot both recommend personalizing content to your customers, such as sending out personalized emails or newsletters, as one of your client retention strategies — so why not apply the same idea when responding to your reviews?
Think back to one of those statistics we shared earlier: 68% of customers leave businesses because of perceived indifference. Providing personalized owner responses to their reviews is a way to make your customers feel valued by your business — whether their review is ecstatic or enraged.
In the case of a negative review, such as a 1-star rating or 2-star rating, personalized responses also provide another benefit: damage control. If a customer is upset, it’s likely because they’re either experiencing an issue (such as a payment cancellation problem) or had a negative experience (such as an unpleasant interaction with an employee). A generic response won’t reassure the customer, offer a solution, or defuse the situation as effectively as a personalized response. If you want to hold onto your customers — and keep control of your brand’s public image — make sure to provide tailored responses to all of your reviewers.
Not sure how to get started? We have you covered. Check out our tips on writing custom review responses, or let our professional response scribes handle the job for you.
Ask About Our Review Reply Service for Multi-Location Brands, Agencies, and Resellers
As SEO company Moz cautioned, “To neglect reviews and owner responses is to give up control of an important piece of the customer service picture.” That creates issues for your business not only from a reputation management standpoint, but also from a customer retention standpoint — and both can put a serious dent in your sales.
Provide an enhanced level of service — and keep more of your customers — by strengthening your review reply strategy. Shout About Us makes it easy, providing your team with expertly-trained responders who generate custom replies within 24 hours. In addition to our bespoke review reply service, Shout About Us also offers a white label review platform that aggregates all of your reviews in a secure, custom dashboard, enabling you to effortlessly monitor 50+ review sites.
We work with a wide variety of industries, including automotive, restaurant, real estate, and more, serving multi-location brands along with agencies and resellers. Our clients include Chick-fil-A, Jersey Mike’s Subs, CertaPro Painters, Wyndham Garden Hotels, PostalAnnex+, and thousands of other quality brands across the United States. Whether you prefer to take a hands-on or hands-off approach, we offer flexible, nimble solutions that evolve alongside your business needs.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than five years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.