How to Respond to Bad Reviews

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Bad reviews, just what I want – said no one ever. This statement could’ve even produced a bitter aftertaste for some, especially us app developers. App stores were rumored to be infested with one star ratings and all caps “reviews”. This is bad news since good reviews and high ratings heavily influence app installs. About 59% check app ratings and reviews before downloading an app. The difference in conversion between a one-star rating and a five-star rating is a staggering 770%! A majority of users won’t download apps that have a three-star rating or below.


So what will you do when bad reviews keep on coming, dragging your app’s star rating down?

  1. Don’t be too defensive. It’s natural to get defensive whenever we receive critical feedback. But this isn’t about you anymore, no matter how personal app users can get. Set aside any strong emotions and encourage the app user to look at the problem objectively. Instead of defending your app, ask for proof that the problem really indeed comes from the app and not from other factors on the side of the user.
  2. Ask them what really is the problem. Some reviews can be quite vague. Ask users why they that your app is ‘the worst ever’ or why they are discouraging other users from downloading it. You can learn a lot from user input and you can save some time from diagnosing app performance problems.
  3. Acknowledge any shortcomings and give apologies for the inconvenience. Even the best apps have “buggy” moments. Don’t deny any mistakes on your (and your app’s) part. Even if you can’t see any mistake, don’t tell your app users that they are downright wrong. There could be some unforeseen reasons why your app malfunctions – just acknowledge the possibility of that mistake and assure them that you are trying to get the root of it.
  4. Don’t just promise solutions, make it happen. Apologies and assurances go a long way in appeasing app users but if you can’t offer any solution, your app will be uninstalled. If the problem is something that can’t be easily patched up, offer users short-term solutions or in-app rewards that would lessen the inconvenience brought on by any technical problem.
  5. Don’t take the bait of trolls. Of course, you can’t answer all of your app’s reviews, but there’s also a good reason why you shouldn’t answer some of them. There are trolls that just want to get a rise out of you. Avoid them, especially if they look like they want to draw attention to themselves. If you feel the need to answer any allegations, make it brief and polite. Do not go down to their level. Explain everything in the first reply and if there’s a need for another reply, make it clear that it would be the end of the conversation.
  6. Don’t let false information spread. It’s difficult to tell if users that spread false information on reviews are trolls or just well-meaning but ill-informed individuals. Whichever of the two they may be, you should immediately correct them. If possible, address all your users in a way that the one who left the review won’t feel like they are being singled out.
  7. Report spammy reviews. Fake reviews are a reality in the app stores then, until now to some extent. Competitors may pay not only for positive reviews of their apps but also for bad reviews on your app. Fake ratings usually don’t come with a review and fake reviews are often quite short and generic. A few of reviews like this are legitimate, especially if your app is still gaining traction in the app stores. But if bad reviews flood your app without reason, you can report these reviews. In Google Play Store, you can flag a review as spam or unhelpful. You can report reviews in the Apple App Store through iTunes Connect. Click the “Contact Us” link under the “Support” tab. On the contact form, select “App Store Questions,” then “Customer Reviews,” and then “Report a Fraud Concern”.


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