How to respond to App Store reviews

There is nothing more disheartening to me than seeing an amazing product, with non-existent customer support. On some platforms like eBay and the Google Play Store, this lack of customer support is pretty obvious because you don’t see any responses to customer feedback.

Google Play Reviews Example

I want to see these companies succeed because they make great products. But a lack of customer support makes it really hard to get behind them.

However, other platforms don’t even allow businesses to respond to reviews, so it is really hard to gauge how well the product is supported.

Until this week, that included the Apple App Store.

Some resourceful iOS publishers did find ways to respond to user reviews in the past, but it was unreliable…at best.

We mentioned in a previous post that review responses was finally coming to the Apple App Store and it is now live in iOS 10.3! Responding to user reviews is now officially an element of Apple ASO.

So in this post, we will show you how it works and the best ways to take advantage of this feature to grow your brand and create loyal fans.

Where You Can Respond to User Reviews

iTunes Connect review dashboard

Image: Apple

You can respond to reviews on the App Store app for iPhone, iPad and Mac. iTunes Connect can also be used to respond to reviews, if you or your team members have Legal, Admin, App Manager, or Marketer roles.

Why You Need to Respond to Reviews

Responding to reviews has two huge benefits. It will require more work on your part, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Upgraded Ratings

Since your average rating is an important App Store ranking metric, the biggest benefit of responding to reviews and making users happy, is to get users to change their negative rating to a positive one.

The easiest wins will come from responding to users who have requested a feature that has just been added. Simply go back and search through your negative reviews with our Review Analysis module to find these reviews.

Reviews search

Once you solve their problem, you can ask them to change their rating. Be sure to read the Complete Guide to Review Mining to learn how to get more useful information from user reviews.

Build Your Fan Base

When you make angry users happy and make satisfied users even happier, you start to build something that every company dreams of having…an insanely loyal fan base.

These people are more than just users.

They will recommend your app to their friends, they will defend your app in public forums and they will provide valuable feedback. So take care of them because they are important to your company and your app is important to them.

What to Say When Responding

Responding to reviews

This can take a little time to perfect, so just get started and figure it out as you go. If you already respond to Google Play reviews, then I’m sure that you have this dialed in by now.

But if you are new to this process, then here are a few things to keep in mind. Once you figure out the best ways to respond to different types of reviews, your job should become pretty easy.

Also remember to follow Apple’s terms and conditions when responding to reviews.

Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions

When you are tired or in a bad mood, it can be easy to be curt with reviewers. Let’s be completely honest, you may even want to straight up call them a moron.

It is important to monitor how you are feeling when you are responding to reviews, especially super negative ones. Even if you are in a good mood, the best thing to do after you read a negative review is to take a step back and think about your response.

Waiting a day to respond can give you time to consider your answer and not say something that you might regret.

See the Situation From the User’s Perspective

This is the key to effective communication in any situation and is even more important in online communications. A lot can get lost in translation when we cannot see facial expressions and hear the tone of voice.

Since you have been working on your app for so long, there can be things that you take for granted. So imagine that you are using your app for the first time and be sympathetic to people’s frustrations or questions.

Be Careful About Promising Too Much or Being Unnecessarily Negative

Outstanding customer service starts with taking care of the customer. However, you also need to be aware of how you are portraying your company too.

It almost goes without saying but promising something that you may not be able to deliver on, just to keep a customer happy, is always a bad idea.

On the flip side, be aware that being too self-deprecating can be a turn off to people and lower their confidence in your app and your company.

Be honest with your users, but also give your company some credit too.

Canned Responses

With so many similar inquires, it can be tempting to create a set of canned responses and answer every review with them. It is helpful to have a standard set of responses ready, but remember that your replies will be available for everyone to see.

So as much as possible, switch things up, personalize your messages and rephrase your canned responses so people feel like they are talking to a human and not a chatbot. This can go a long way to showing your users that you really do care about them.

Pick Your Battles

Pick your battles

It may be tempting to try to respond to all of your reviews. This is certainly a good idea when you only get a few reviews a month.

But as your reviews grow, it will be impossible to respond to every single review. To get the most out of your responses, it is usually best to only respond to things like:

  • Feature requests
  • Bug reports
  • Constructive feedback

Trolls will certainly try to get your attention, and some of them do a really good job of it. But ignore them and they will generally get bored and move on. They are usually just looking for attention.

Conclusion

If you are getting very few reviews, relative to the number of downloads you are getting, then you should test different ways to get more reviews. The iOS 10.3 update also allows you to get reviews from inside your app, instead of having to switch over to the App Store.

Other users can also rate a review as helpful or not helpful, like on Amazon. Hopefully this brings useful reviews to the top and sinks fake reviews down to where they belong.

There is a downside to this update though. Now you can only prompt users to leave a review three times a year. Make them count.