How to manage user reviews at scale: Three tactics for success

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Kathryn Lye
How to manage user reviews at scale: Three tactics for success

Table of Content:

  1. Structuring your support channels: Why it’s critical to integrate app reviews into your omnichannel mix
  2. What makes a successful Support team?
  3. Three tactics to keep up with a sudden spike in reviews
  4. How to measure your success

Ask any app developer what their goal is, and it’s likely to be related to growth: growing their user base, growing revenue, or growing the company as a whole. Scaling your app is a hugely exciting time, but can come with its own challenges - and it’s important that internally, you’re scaling too.

This is especially important when it comes to your Support team. The processes you have in place to respond to a few hundred users will quickly fall short when managing thousands or even hundreds of thousands of reviews.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how to positively impact CSAT with an automated approach to review management, and offer some tips and tricks to organize your workflows. We also hear from three market leaders who share their tips for success: Figma, a leading design platform, PicsArt, the number one creative visual storytelling platform in the world, and mobile gaming studio Gram Games - the brand behind smash hit games including Merge Magic! and Merge Dragons!.

While these companies come from very different industries, they all have a few things in common: a commitment to excellent user experience, watertight review management strategies, and extremely high ratings across thousands of reviews in the app stores.

Before kicking off, let’s take a quick recap: why should you pay attention to user reviews in the first place?

Structuring your support channels: Why it’s critical to integrate app reviews into your omnichannel mix

As your company grows, it’s key you offer a broad choice of channels for customers to reach out to you through. Consumers today expect to interact with brands on their own terms - and their preferred channels. By introducing a wide range of ways users can get in touch, you can cater to regional and generational differences - as well as ensuring a superior user experience, right from the start.

The most common support channels include phone, email, social channels such as Facebook or Twitter, chatbots, help desks, or app store reviews.

While app store reviews aren’t as traditional a channel as email or phone, it’s not one Support teams can afford to ignore. Often, the success of your game in the app store is reflected entirely within your app rating. AppFollow research shows that the average rating for apps and games in the stores’ top charts and featured sections hovers at around 4.5 stars. Critically, apps with a rating under 4 stars lose up to half of their potential downloads. For an app looking to scale, slipping down in visibility could be disastrous.

Also key to bear in mind is that users who originally post one- or two-star reviews will very often increase their ratings to four or five once their issue has been handled by the Support team, which can give your average app rating a boost. Finally, users landing on your app page are also far more likely to download an app if they see friendly, timely responses to existing user feedback.

What makes a successful Support team?

Support teams are unique in that they are one of the few departments who speak to your customers day in, day out. This direct connection can make or break a user’s perception of your app: offer timely and friendly support, and you could build brand loyalty for life. But if support is slow, and doesn’t fix your users’ issues, you’ll only infuriate customers more.

So, what are some key characteristics that differentiate successful Support teams?

  1. Craft deep connections with users
    For Vahe Kumaryan, PicsArt’s Team Lead, User Success, everything depends on creating a positive and dedicated team of customer support agents: “A support team is nothing without its human-to-human factor. My own view is that there is no real customer service beyond human-to-human interaction. Software and optimization can only get you so far,” he says.

    It’s also essential for team members to build a very solid understanding of their users - and their pain points - so that they can proactively anticipate issues. That’s why all PicsArt employees are encouraged to regularly use the app.It’s a strategy that’s clearly paid off for PicsArt, as their web platform has consistently been able to keep their CSAT score at over 80%.
  2. Use customer insights to drive product development
    App reviews are a critical channel for user feedback, and can be used to iterate on the next version of the app. It’s something that Gram Games’ teams have nailed down to an art form, by introducing a virtuous feedback loop between their Customer Service and their Product team. In a recent webinar hosted by AppFollow, Gram Games’ Customer Support Manager, Sibel Piroğlu mentioned that by breaking down silos between these two teams, user feedback is constantly used to drive product decisions.

    Sibel’s team, who work on the front line with customers, have the unique experience of being able to see almost real-time qualitative user sentiment and feedback about the game. The Product team, on the other hand, have a wealth of quantitative data at their fingertips. Combining the teams’ complementary points of views help them better crowd-source ideas and solutions for future versions of their games
  3. An ability to scale
    Even Support teams which are initially successful can quickly fall behind once faced with a big uptake in reviews. This could lead to missed reviews, containing crucial insights, a breakdown of communication between teams, or disjointed workflows between team members. And it’s likely to have a significant impact on your users’ experience, too. Key to a successful support team is to both be willing to scale, and willing to introduce new processes to help with the growing pains along the way.

Three tactics to keep up with a sudden spike in reviews

At any stage of your growth journey, it’s likely you’ll be faced with sudden spikes in installs and sessions. This could be following the launch of a new app version, or if your brand goes through a potential crisis. Other occasions could be during seasonal spikes of users - eCommerce apps may see an increase just before the holidays, while many gaming apps reported record number of downloads right throughout the pandemic.

Whatever the issue, it’s likely you’ll also need to suddenly deal with a huge influx of new user reviews. Some of these will have genuine insights to include in your product development, but many of them will include similar messages or feedback. Others still can be considered spam, or simple one-word reviews. What’s the best way to sort through these - and how can you make sure that you’re capturing the most business critical insights?

  1. Boost headcount
    One easy way to tackle this spike in reviews is to increase your headcount. While that’s sometimes necessary, especially if you’re going through a sustained period of growth, there’s also less costly and more efficient options to consider before going that route. After all, it still takes a huge amount of manual work to sift through and reply to thousands of reviews - many of which are likely to be incredibly similar.
  2. Create your own dedicated Help Center
    Building your own Help Center can be a great, self-serve way for your customers to quickly resolve issues themselves - and will help reduce ticket numbers for your Support team, too. Another added bonus is that customer service agents can link through to a specific doc if a user’s issue has already been addressed in the Help Center, rather than having to type out a long set of instructions.For Figma’s Jason Pearson, “A great help center can go a long way when it comes to proactively supporting users and deflecting unnecessary conversations in the queue”. But he also advises building a specialist Help Center team, rather than expecting Support agents to step in: “In order to build a best-in-class help center, you need at least a couple people dedicated solely to researching, writing, editing, designing, strategizing about the information architecture, and maintaining all the content for your customers,” he says.
  3. Make the most of automation
    One of the most popular and efficient ways to manage an increase in user reviews is through automation. By using machine-learning platforms and setting certain rules, Support teams can save themselves hours of work, reply more promptly to customers, and find more time and resources to focus on the more business-critical user reviews. Teams can use automation to:
  • Set up templated replies to common user reviews: To help them reply to users as quickly as possible, Gram Games makes use of AppFollow’s reply templates. The team can bucket each type of review, whether it’s related to specific bugs, feature requests, or positive reviews from users enjoying the app.

    From there, they can create rules to match these buckets of reviews with templated responses, and respond to users with a single click. Clients can also create several different templates per issue, to avoid repetition. You can see how this looks in the example below.AppFollow templated response example
  • Use auto-tags to group similar responses together: Auto-tags help you to automatically filter all reviews related to feature requests and share with your product managers, or group all reviews about a specific bug. Once the bug is fixed, you can reply to all users who mentioned this bug in a single click - and hopefully boost your ratings, too.
  • Auto-report offensive or spammy comments: Below, you’ll see an example of how you can set certain rules within the AppFollow platform to automatically report spam, offensive and inappropriate reviews. Not only does this save agents’ time from having to manually report reviews, you’re also ensuring potential users only see the most relevant and helpful information.
  • Offer multilingual support: As your company scales, it’s likely that you’ve also started to take your product international. Developers not only need to think of translating the app itself, but also of how to reply and interact with users in their native language. This is critical for PicsArt, who currently offer support across a whopping 30 languages. Offering native support is important for Vahe, and he credits AppFollow’s dynamic canned responses for helping them reach users in so many languages.

    The AppFollow platform also offers auto-translation, so you can understand everything your users say at the click of a button - even without a huge multilingual support team. You can see how this looks in our dashboard in the example below:
AppFollow also auto-translates reviews

How to measure your success

When it comes to measuring the efficiency of your review management strategy, there’s a whole host of metrics available - from industry standards like CSAT and NPS, to more niche figures such as Customer Effort Score (CES).

We recommend experimenting with various metrics to understand which work best for you - and provide you with the most insights. For example, Sibel from Gram Games relies on SLA, CSAT and app store ratings. Checking CSAT numbers on a weekly and monthly basis helps her keep track of user sentiment. Sibel also says that “If the team spots an abnormal increase in tickets, we know there’s a bug - and we immediately report it to the Product team”.

Quote from Gram Games

Jason from Figma offers a more nuanced approach, saying that “Each metric has pros and cons and I don’t think any of them are the Holy Grail. They are data points that, when used in conjunction with other metrics, can help answer the question, “Is our approach working?”

However, one point that all three experts agree on is the need to prioritise replying to low ratings, between one to three stars. These reviews are the most important to catch and reply to early on, as they affect the overall rating and can discourage new potential users from downloading the app. Luckily, it’s another task that, with the help of automation, needn’t be as daunting.

Looking for more information on how to automate your review management strategy? Download our Automation guide, complete with a whole host of automation rules and conditions that can be used in the AppFollow platform. And if you’d like to hear more about how automation can help improve your review management process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a demo.

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