Respond To Negative Reviews

How Should You Respond To Negative Reviews On Your App?

Fact Check: There are nearly 2.6 million apps on Google Play Store and 2.2 million apps on Apple’s App Store as of February 2019.

Not all the apps sit well with the users and may not live up to the expectations of the user. It’s normal to make mistakes even when it comes to app development. It is natural to expect users to vent out their discontent through negative reviews. It may not seem like so, but those star ratings really matter for your app.

97% negative app reviews are not responded to, and that gives out the message that the app developers/owners don’t care for the customer. If you are here to change these stats, read ahead for some actionable pieces of advice that will help you respond to negative app-reviews.

Why Should you respond to negative app-reviews?

Before we get to the ‘how-to’ segment, let’s look at 5 reasons why responding to negative app reviews is important.

  • 77% of people install a free app only when they’ve read at least one review and 80% of the users do exactly the same for paid apps.
  • 13% of people read at least 7 reviews before making up their mind.
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  • Responding to bad reviews can change the star rating from 1 star to 4 stars or better. Better ratings mean better visibility in the app store/play store.
  • An apps discoverability, ranking and app store conversion improves significantly after responding to the negative reviews.
  • Responding quickly and prudently to a review shows that you care for the users, leading to customer retention.

How to respond to negative app reviews?

Do not take the negative responses personally.

Humane reflex action to negative app review would be to unleash your fury and verbally attack the accusing user. We understand that you’ve put in a lot of effort into your app but maybe the user is right and your app may have caused him to stress out. The thumb rule to respond to such reviews is to show compassion instead of dehumanizing them with rile responses.

Always acknowledge if there’s a problem.

On agreeing with the user that your app indeed has a problem, the next step is to owe up your mistake and be honest about it. How do you do it?

  • Constructively communicate with the user.
  • Tell them to calm down if they’re over-stressed about something.
  • Tell them that you are there to listen to them and resolve their problems.
  • Generate a positive feeling in the user that you’re addressing their issue.

Prepare a workflow and don’t panic.

Your app may not be suitable for the users’ business, it may not be entirely your fault. You have thousands of positive reviews for your app and don’t let the handful of the negative ones get to you.

Prepare workflows to deal with the negative reviews readily. A standard workflow would be something along the lines of:

  • Notified about the review.
  • Problem faced by the user identified.
  • Categorization of the negative review: Technical or Customer Service?
  • Technical issues: escalated to tech support.
  • Customer Service issues: escalated to the customer service department.

Be quick to respond.

Templates for quick responses can be created and quicker responses can be generated for each stage from your negative-review management workflow. Use your brand’s voice, personal touch and be specific when responding to the negative reviews.

App developers can achieve 5-star reviews from the 1-star reviews by resolving the users’ issue. To make sure that you never miss a notification about the reviews and comments:

  • Use the push-notification service provided by the App-Analytics Platform that notifies you when the reviews are published.
  • Creating a custom alert for reviews with 1 or 2-star ratings.
  • Integrate IFTTT with your preferred method of getting notifications.
  • Prepare template responses for various reviews to cut on response time and move onto the other negative reviews after responding.

Learn the art of turning a negative review into user feedback.

Even after you have managed to ride hell for leather to resolve the issues faced by the user, even the most loyal users will not type a happy review despite being content with the app. They seldom change the negative review once the problem is resolved.

How do you obliterate this negative review from public view and encourage more joyous and positive reviews? By smartly using an in-app ranking mechanism. Follow these steps:

  • Integrate an app-store ranking mechanism in the app.
  • Consider what message to use and how & when to ask the customer to rate the app.
  • Redirect the low-ranking reviews to a feedback page that is non-public.
  • Send the above step as a mail to the publisher of the review.
  • Negative reviews disappear from the public page and turned into user feedback.

Device a strategy for different star ratings

You’ve got thousands of reviews on your app, but do you respond to each and every one of them?! You possibly can’t! Decide which negative reviews need what kind of response and then divide them into different groups. Learn how to filter app reviews based on their ratings in the app store. An example of the strategy could be:

  1. Critics: Answer every review that contains criticism of your application even when they’ve rated you highly (like 4 or 5 stars).
  2. Errors: Review that contains keywords like crash, freeze, fix, errors or bugs should be filtered out and sent directly to the technical support. This cuts down the response time and improves effectiveness.
  3. Low-Rating: Low-rating reviews would be the reviews that have 1 or 2-star ratings. They should be considered as an opportunity to either be turned into a 5-star review or simply converted to user feedback.

If you can manage to not look sycophantic or ‘spammy’ while doing so, send emails of the app review responses to the publishers through the personal email channel. We recommend you to first test this for a trial period of 30 days and then proceed if your star ratings improve.

For complex situations, take the problem offline and to a private channel

It is impossible to please everyone by your app. Some people resonate with your idea while for some it’s just bizarre and gibberish.

When problems get complex or the user is agitated, it’s always advised to move to more private modes of communication with the user. Follow the mechanism below to deal with such negative reviews:

  1. Read the review at least thrice to make sure what the reader wants.
  2. Acknowledge the reader’s concern by making a public comment on the review and tell them that you’ll help resolve the issue.
  3. Follow up with a  private comment on the user review to know about the issue in detail.
  4. Use the direct channels like email to address the user if his concerns aren’t met on time. But never pester on using this channel to ask them to change their review.

Using automated tools to respond to negative reviews.

Appfigures

Appfigures is an effective tool that helps respond to app reviews on Google Play Store and Apple App Store effortlessly. Using the application is easy. Filter the reviews and select the ones you want to reply to, compose and reply to all. The interface is user-friendly, as seen from the screenshot below.

With Appfigures, you can get additional features like:

  • Directly sharing the user reviews across multiple platforms.’
  • Custom alerts with notifications on for any new reviews posted about the app on your mobile device and email inbox.
  • Filter out actionable reviews with the help of built-in keyword and filter search.
  • Type and submit a response directly on the same platform without leaving it.

Appbot

Appbot is an application specially designed for customer excellence that is also used for review analysis on social media too. The tool also comes in handy when tactically responding to negative app reviews. How?

  • Appbot lets you take immediate actions to respond to the reviews and improve the customer feedback mechanism.
  • Support tickets are generated as soon as the review is analyzed and a quick response is needed. All further responses are updated in the status of the ticket.
  • Appbot lets you track the changes that you are making in your app after reading the reviews and how the customers are responding to it.
  • Use the filter to use emotion judgement through keywords, filter out common complaints, errors, bugs, crashes and major technical faults and create a response-template for each of them in a few clicks.
  • Translate reviews in foreign languages to your preferred language to judge the emotion of the user.
  • Visualizing the trend in the negative reviews and improving those particular aspects of the app that lag behind in this regard.

Launchkit

Launchkit is an open source tool now and is integrated with Google by default. The tool probably gives the best review tracking system as compared to any other product in the market. With Launchkit, you can:

  • Get the reviews posted on your team’s Slack channels to improve monitoring of reviews.
  • Add colour code to the alert depending on the ratings of the review to monitor them efficiently and have additional control by connecting them to Slack.
  • In case you miss the review in your Slack, you will receive an email notification about the review in the inbox.
  • Use the share feature to publicly share the review with the world by just a click.  

Appfollow

Appfollow is the closest alternative to Launchkit that you can find. It works quite similar to Launchkit, but is better when it comes to monitoring updates and reviews.

What makes appfollow a tool that is an all-in-one package for app reviews are these features:

  • An integrated app review monitoring feature for Slack that works well with both Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
  • All the critical app data like stats, sales, reviews, keywords and downloads are located under a single shed.
  • Auto-translate reviews in foreign languages, track app ranking changes, auto-tweet and reply to the reviews.
  • With just a single tool, you can track, monitor and reply to the negative reviews.

Try and provide an explanation when it’s your fault.

It’s good to be gritty and have the perseverance to respond to negative reviews but you most certainly don’t have to be stubborn when it’s actually your fault. If there is a misunderstanding, it’s your responsibility to clarify and apologize for it.

How to make an apology and what to consider when making an apology:

  • Be overt about what led to the misunderstanding and never make excuses for what happened. Passing the buck looks really bad at your end.
  • Even when the user is wrong, issue an apology to appear as someone who shows concern.
  • Provide some useful advice on how to re-engage the user with your business.
  • If that doesn’t work, then re-schedule an appointment online or ask the user to get in touch with you via calls or mail.

Use workarounds to deal with bad reviews.

Workarounds should be used in situations when the use of only one response message is allowed or when there’s no alert when a negative review is posted. At times, Google doesn’t let you post links/hyperlinks in the comment box when responding to a review.

In these cases, an app developer is compelled to use other workarounds like:

  1. Try to point towards an existing document like a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), a web content or a reference document.
  2. Mentioning the support email address that can be used to shift the discussion away from public forums

Parting Thoughts

We understand that it is not easy to deal with negative feedback or reviews for your app and needs meticulous planning and a pragmatic approach. We have given you a handful of ideas and tools that can make a difference in how you have been traditionally approaching these reviews.

It’s time to redefine your methods, use new tools and tactics to deal with them. Turning the negative reviews into resourceful feedbacks can make those 1-star ratings soar up to 4 or 5 stars.

Suumit Shah

My name is Suumit and I am the founder of Rankz, a toolset for SEO professionals. I've been helping corporates like McDonald's, Sony, Viacom18 to scale their user-base digitally since last 5 years.

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