“One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising,” said Jim Rohn. Jim Rohn was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Jim was right. Focus on that one user who is vociferously reviewing your app on the app store. Attend to him. Listen to him. Find out what he is trying to say. Is he lauding your efforts? Does he love your app? Is he complaining? Should you respond? Most definitely yes. And how do you respond? With a cool head. Always. And yes, always be constructive.
It is important to connect to your customers and users. Google Play Developer Console therefore has a feature under ‘Reviews & Ratings’, from where developers can respond to the reviews users post about their apps. Let’s look at the following selection of reviews and their replies. They will give you a fair idea about handling the reviews you receive for your apps.
- Positive reviews? Thank them.
The etiquettes of offline world apply to the online world too. Someone likes your app? Good. Someone likes your app enough to write a positive review about it and give you five stars? Great. You should respond. You must thank them. The people who rate you well and love your apps are your fans. They are your evangelists. They will spread the good word about your app. A little appreciation and acknowledgement from your end will go a long way.
- Users with issues? Empathise.
If your users are finding issues with your app and you find them venting their opinion on your review page – you should respond fast. You need to empathise with them to begin with. Let them know that you are sorry for the issues they are facing in your app. Find out what’s bothering them. Try to provide a solution at your earliest. Give the contact information of your support team. It is always better to solve the issues away from the public glare, on one-to-one basis as the to and fro of correspondence- the two way conversation can be long and you would need a better platform and a faster way to communicate. From your end follow the issue and ensure it is fixed.
- Apologize where needed.
Your fans who love your app may occasionally face issues too. These issues can be minor or major. Consider each review from your user a performance report on your app. The feedback is important. It helps you improve your app.
It is important for you to understand how vexing it is for users when the app stops functioning the way it is supposed to. Stalls, Crashes, malfunctioning – broken apps can be irritating. And if they are business, work, or productivity apps – they involve precious man hours. You need to be sympathetic and convey your apologies as soon as you can. If people trust your app and incorporate it in their workflow, the apps have to be top quality to survive. Bad reviews travel fast and the image of your app can nosedive very quickly if you don’t address the problems and solve the issues.
- Tell them what went wrong
Users want the best experience. If the app download and install doesn’t work as expected, expect unfavorable comments in your reviews. Sometimes there can be a miscommunication or a communication gap, which can cause undue stress to your users. Ensure that your users have accurate information and that they have it at your earliest.
Sometimes things can go wrong , and they do go wrong. Your app could go down temporarily after an update. You need to convey the information of when your app would be up and running as soon as you can if you can. This conveys to your users that you respect them and you are in the know of the issues they are facing.
- Incorporate suggestions.
Customer reviews enable you to learn more about your product. They help you understand the things that have gone right and the things that need to be set right. Customer feedback may sometimes include good suggestions. If the customer feels something is missing in your app, if it indeed is – acknowledge it. Tell them about the other ways they could get their specific job done with the help of your app.
You need to thank the user for the feedback and assure them that their suggestion is valuable to you and your team would definitely consider its merit.
- Learn from the feedback
Many a times customers provide you with very good suggestions. Customers can shed light on aspects you and your team may have missed or are yet to think about. When you start interacting with your users and incorporate their suggestions – the ones which truly align with your idea of how your app should be, you end up making better and better product with each iteration.
You should encourage your users to send you good suggestions. If you stumble on a really good suggestion in the reviews, thank the reviewer earnestly and if you think the suggestion can be used, use it. Don’t forget to let him know about the time he would possibly be seeing his suggestion integrated in the app. It lends credence to the communication.
- Provide accurate information. Set the record straight.
You know your app better than anyone else does. So if there is a user who is not using the app as intended, you can always step up and inform him. Guide him. Provide all the information you think the user needs to use the app well. Ensure he is not overlooking or missing the feature he wants in an app which your app most definitely has.
It is important to set the record straight because if you do not respond to reviews like the one posted above, other users may think your app has a glitch or it lacks desired features- which it so obviously does not. And if you ignore such reviews, it would convey to your users that you are not confident about the functionalities of your app or worse – the specific feature a user was lamenting about, truly doesn’t exist.
- Defend your app
The user is always right. But sometimes, you need to take a stand and defend your app especially if you feel you are not in the wrong. If you feel your app is not being used in the way it should ideally be, speak up. If you read the review posted above you will see how Air Canada has responded to the user and is taking up the issue of being saddled with the rating of 1 star.
The last sentence of the response could have been worded a little differently – a softer tone would have been better. The message however is clear. If you do not use the technology you are supposed to, you should not mess with the ratings of the app if the app is not compatible. Bad luck Air Canada! But we hear you. Eric, you should review your rating.
- Explain. It’s needed.
Explain, clarify and then explain some more. It is necessary because users rarely have complete idea about all the technical details that go into making a tiny app work efficiently on smartphones. Many of them might not know how cloud technology works. My aunt doesn’t. And so it is important for you as a developer and app publisher to clarify issues that may not be clear to majority of users.
In the matters of collecting user information, app publishers are extra careful. Publishers are not allowed to collect more information than the app needs. There are app store guidelines both at Google Play and Apple’s App Store in place to watch over that aspect. And remember when you clarify an issue to one user, you educate the whole lot of other users who may have the same concern.
- Ignore, but know which ones to ignore
Some reviews do not deserve a response. They can be safely ignored. The WeChat review posted above seems to be by a non-native English speaker. Heevaa’s mom doesn’t seem a fan of WeChat. But Heevaa is and she has given WeChat five stars. You can’t win everyone. There will be reviews from haters and spammers. Foul language, promotions of different apps, products and services and broken English – it will all be there. Safely ignore. Report inappropriate comments.
But yes. Do not ignore all reviews which are in broken English. They could be messages from beyond. Seriously, they could be messages via Auto Translate. Try to decipher them. Understand the issues and study them carefully. You never know. A simple interaction could lead you to a large foreign market. The market where people love your app and you could strike gold after localizing your app. So, respond to the review and solve the issue – if there is one. And then? Wait and watch – to see if there are more reviews in store for you from distant lands.
Replying to User’s Review is a skill
Some App developers may find it a chore, but replying to your app user’s reviews on Google Play can prove to be a very rewarding marketing strategy. Developer console enables you to see individual reviews and other data. Drafting response is a skill and you can get better in it with time. There are clear guidelines at Google Play too. You can read them here.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” said Bill Gates.
There will be negative reviews. Learn to reply positively to such reviews. Give all your replies a constructive spin. By drafting and posting reviews responsibly you present a new, affable human front of your app and business to your users. People look for genuineness. They want to be heard. They look for that human element to connect to. The public developer response feature in the developer’s console provides android app developers that big opportunity to connect with their app users.
Remember, each time you reply, you are reaching out to a big number of your existing and potential users. They are reading the lines and the nuances too. Use the opportunity to promote your app, its functionalities and user experience. Use the opportunity to share more information. Tell your users about a feature that is most loved. Talk to them about new updates that you could be releasing in near future. Inspite of your efforts when things go wrong in your app you might lose a few users, but with a good user engagement strategy in place you will be able to keep majority of your users with you. Provide them accurate information. If something is broken, how soon can you fix it, let your users know.
And yes, don’t put up fake reviews.
Ratings matter but what matters more is your genuine effort to make your app a great app. Focus on your users. Help them get the best app experience possible. Good ratings and reviews will follow. Good luck.