Why and How to Respond to App Store and Google Play Reviews

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Anatoly Sharifulin
Why and How to Respond to App Store and Google Play Reviews

Table of Content:

  1. Strategy 1: Reply to all reviews
  2. When to implement
  3. How to start
  4. Strategy 2: Only reply to reviews that got featured
  5. When to implement
  6. Strategy 3: Only reply to negative reviews
  7. When to implement
  8. How to start
  9. Strategy 4: Automatically respond to reviews
  10. When to implement
  11. How to start
  12. Common Mistakes
  13. How to Choose the Right Strategy

App Store and Google Play reviews are a valuable channel of user communication. Answering their questions and requests can help you to increase app rating and conversion rate, improve the product, get loyal users and, in general, achieve more sales. Before downloading or buying anything, users will always get to read the reviews first. That's why other customer experience is a critical point in their decision-making regarding your app. Thus, you must reply to user reviews regularly and proactively.

"Every day, developers respond to more than 100,000 reviews in the Play Console, and when they do, we've seen that users update their rating by +0.7 stars on average." — Google I/O 2019 

Today, we will show you how to respond to reviews in the App Store, Google Play Store and, in fact, any app stores. If you’ve never worked with the mobile user reviews, you'll see the first positive results very soon. If you’ve already done that and didn’t see much, our tips will help you improve and automate your work. You will also learn more about the common mistakes to avoid.

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Strategy 1: Reply to all reviews

When to implement

You can use this method when you have a small number of reviews (10–20), and the support team can handle replying to all of them.

Monitor all the app store reviews you receive. It’s especially important for a new app, as the reviews help to get feedback right from the start, or after a new feature launch. In a way, it can be referred to as a customer development methodology: what users are new, how fast they learned to work with a product, what they liked or didn’t like, etc.

After the app launch, replying fast is not as crucial as replying right. The focus must be on users’ opinions and helping them to learn how to use an app. If they’re not able to figure out how to use it and you don’t assist them properly, they will definitely go to your competitors. New users will only see problems and negative reviews when visiting your app page, which will drop the conversion rate.

Having paid for a Pro Plan, a user had difficulties with synchronization. It’s important to respond to such reviews, as more users will then see that everything works with no bugs. Remember that if your customers are satisfied with your help, they can update the feedback to a higher rate.

How to start

Start following reviews on Slack, Discord, or email. Choose the services that will enable you to send replies easily — the faster you get notified about the problem, the faster your team will be able to handle it. You can also write to your users that you have been currently working on fixing the issues.

Android developers are able to get feedback from alpha and beta testers even before publishing their apps. Access to reviews is available through Slack and the console, which makes it possible to start replying right away. Beta reviews are considered as working with users, the only difference being that they are not published on Google Play and don’t affect ratings and rankings.

AppFollow allows you to easily sort out beta reviews in a personal profile along with the replies to them. This feedback doesn’t get published on Google Play, which is very important when you test new features. Source: appfollow.io

More about working with the users after the app launch using the example of the Babycare & Breastfeeding app here.

Strategy 2: Only reply to reviews that got featured

When to implement

Use this method when there are few app reviews (more than 50 reviews per week), and when negative ones are less than 10% (1–2*)

The reviews that got featured show up on the app page on the App Store and Google Play. The App Store publishes 6 reviews, while Google Play shows 3 reviews on smartphones and 4 reviews on the Web store. Every country has its own language and specific reviews, so it’s important to divide the countries and locations and work with them separately.

These reviews are the most important for install-to-conversion rates, as most users only get an impression of the app based on the first reviews they see. If most of them are complaints, it can only have a negative effect on the number of installs.

First featured review on the App Store. A customer complains about a flight canceled without warning and with no refund of money. The review, with no response or apologies, is the first one that catches other users’ attention.

How to start

You can use filters on AppFollow to reply to such reviews faster. Monitor user reviews that are becoming popular in different countries and how many likes they get and reply to them immediately. You can do that in consoles or in various mobile app review monitor tools.

Want to receive your featured reviews on Zendesk, Helpshift, or another Help Desk service? Get in touch and we’ll set them up for you.

Remember that everyone will see your response to a featured review. Try to ensure your customers that the issues they have experienced will be fixed shortly, and if necessary, try to continue communication via email.

Make sure to inform users that you’ve taken care of their problem. To make it work faster, use tags to find the specific tickets; e.g. “update reply” or “problem with sign-in registration”. You can also ask users to change your app rating when they update their feedback. In this way, you’ll increase your rankings.

More about working with the featured reviews using the Hotellook app example here.

Strategy 3: Only reply to negative reviews

When to implement

When your app has lots of negative reviews (1–3*), more than 10–15%

By responding only to negative reviews, you solve the users’ problems and make it less stressful for the support team. The more unhappy customers you can help and turn into happy ones, the higher your app rating and conversion to install will be.

Unable to log in, the user gave an app only 1*. Support managers were fast enough to assist him on Helpshift, and the user changed the rating to 5*. Source: helpshift.com

How to start

  1. Monitor negative reviews and receive them in a service used by your support team like Slack, Zendesk, Help Scout, Intercom, Helpshift, and AppFollow dashboard. With these services you can reply to all App Store and Google Play reviews without any redirection to app stores. 
  2. Work with positive and negative reviews separately. For example, negative ones go straight to Help Desk or a dedicated chat on Slack for immediate reaction. The rest of the messages should be sent to the service most convenient for analysis, such as Slack, Discord, or email.
  3. Tag the negative reviews and use semantic analysis to define what the users complain about most often. Make tags with the most common issues, such as “registration bug” or “update bug”. It will help if you can find a similar template and reply in time.
  4. Use response templates. This will take less time to reply to negative reviews asking users for more details or reassuring them that update bugs will be fixed. Prepare two or three templates for each tag with issuers, and reply within a couple of seconds.
  5. Monitor the updated reviews. AppFollow offers a “Became better/Became worse” filter. It shows whether the users change their reviews for the better (which means that the response strategy and support team are working well), or worse (check how fast and efficiently support managers are working). In this case, you may need to change the template response, or not use it completely.
A user updated the review 18 times to attract the developers’ attention. With the update filters on AppFollow you can keep track of any dynamics and see what problems your users face. Source: appfollow.io

> Read more about working with the negative reviews using the example of the Telegram app here.

Strategy 4: Automatically respond to reviews

When to implement

When you have a dedicated mobile customer support team.

The strategy is convenient when users ask questions about your services: online store, discounts, subscription purchase, or a new quest, etc.

When users give 1–2 *, they want to catch the developer’s attention to deal with their issues.

The number of app store reviews may be overwhelming, so one negative review won’t make the conversion number drop, but the users won’t be able to make a purchase, and therefore there will be less profit for the company.

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How to start

Work with customers through the Help Desk services or straight through AppFollow:

  1. Help Desk is more convenient for support agents to work with as they feel more comfortable with it. Each ticket can show the update history, leave a comment for colleagues, or ask for help with the answer.
  2. If you don’t use Help Desk services, set up auto tags and response templates on AppFollow. Both of them can be divided according to users’ requests and languages if you work with several countries.
Analyze the reviews and learn what the most frequently asked questions are. Make templates based on these topics and translate them into several languages. Come up with two or three options so as not to publish just one response on the page. This way you can save more time replying to reviews.

Templates won’t make 100% of working with reviews automated, as there will be more difficult issues requiring attention and help.

In addition, you can use the “Became worse” filter on AppFollow. Find the reviews that got lower ratings. As users can update them consistently, the conversion rate of each version may go down. Start replying to every update until the problems are solved.

Read more about working with the Help Desk service using the example of Zendesk in our article.

Common Mistakes

  1. No notifications. Learn about the problem and reply quickly to get a higher rating from the users. Without getting notifications, you may take a week or more to reply, and lose the chance to win new customers.
  2. Relying on previous replies. Users don’t remember what you wrote previously and won’t start searching for the answer in other reviews. When asking the questions, they want to be replied to specifically. Every time a user updates a review, go ahead and update your reply.
  3. Fixing bugs without informing. Show your customers that you are working on the problems they have faced. Fix the bugs in a new release, and update a reply to those asking (use tags to find these particular messages). Also, try to ask the users to give high ratings, and the conversion rate will go up. Publish what you’ve changed in the What’s New section. (Yes, users read those, and update their reviews accordingly.)
  4. Using one template for two different updates. It looks like you can’t really be bothered to reply. Add emojis when you send Thank You replies.
  5. Ignoring featured reviews. If some of the featured reviews are negative ones, this will lead to a lower conversion rate.
  6. Being okay with the negative ones. Spam or PR from your competitors is crucial for conversion rate: users can just choose the other app. If the negative reviews are coming from bad competitors, complain to them or give dislikes. Learn how to do this in our Help Centre.

How to Choose the Right Strategy

It’s important to remember the following when working with reviews:

  1. In the early stages, reviews help you to understand users and attract them to your app.
  2. When developing and growing, reviews influence conversion to-install-rates.
  3. Even after winning the market, reviews are important for loyal users and sales.

If there are not enough people in a team to work with the reviews, combine the above strategies and reply only to featured and negative reviews. This will cover the most problematic areas in working with the users.

These strategies are not only suitable for iOS and Android apps. AppFollow makes it possible to also work with Mac and Microsoft apps and games, and all the above-mentioned strategies can be applied to them.

Do you want to improve working with your customers’ reviews? Get in touch with us and we will help you to set up working with reviews, improve your ratings, increase conversion-to-installs, and more.

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