Growth • February 5, 2020

App User Reviews: The Do's and Don'ts of Replying

We’ve established that replying to app user reviews is necessary when aiming to be on top of the app industry. Now let’s talk about what the do’s and don’ts of replying to app user reviews are. 

Keep your developer responses concise and stay focused on the topic

There’s nothing worse than receiving a reply that has nothing to do with your initial statement or one that rants off-topic. Creating a response that doesn’t match up with the user’s review makes your app brand look bad and untrustworthy. Read the user’s review carefully to form a concise but also comprehensive response. You want to ensure that you address the problem they are experiencing or correctly thanking them for enjoying your app. 

Reply to both good and bad app user reviews

You may feel tempted only to respond to bad reviews because what else is there to say to someone who had a perfect experience. Of course there is something to say! This is your chance to prove that there is a team working hard behind the app to make it better every day. It’s also an opportunity to tell your users you appreciate them and encourage them to continue using your app. 

The Kitchen Stories team responded to a user review that was nothing but positive. They thanked the user and made it personal by adding a team member’s name. That’s a great way to approach happy users. 

reply to app user reviews that are positive by thanking the user for using your app
Kitchen Stories Recipes replies to positive as well as negative app user reviews

Apologize and don’t argue, even if the user leaves an aggressive review

We all know that sometimes people get angry about an issue that is either not your fault or out of your control. They may get aggressive or leave an exceptionally negative review on your app store listing. Don’t engage in the fight and instead try to appease the situation. 

Arguing with your app users will only make the situation worse and escalate it to a place you probably don’t want to be. Remember that the reviews and your developer responses are public. Anyone could be reading them, including potential new users. Take the high road, apologize, and try to solve the problem as best as possible not to tarnish your app brand. 

Report inappropriate user reviews, offensive, contain spam, or in some way violate the Google Play and App Store community guidelines

You shouldn’t argue with users within your app store reviews, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take other actions against especially aggressive or inappropriate statements. 

You, as an app developer, publisher, or marketer, do not deserve to be attacked by anyone. That includes your own app users. People can be cruel; we all know that. When you receive user reviews that involve any kind of inappropriate, offensive, or spam content, do not hesitate to report these instances to Google Play or Apple App Store. These users are violating community guidelines that are set up to keep your app community safe. If they are harassing you, they may also be harassing your other users. 

Avoid asking for a higher app rating or other marketing language

I’m sure that your app has received low ratings that you didn’t think were at all deserved. It may be tempting to ask the user to change their rating, but this will only backfire. These types of requests make your app brand seem desperate or scammy. Also, remove any other marketing language in your responses. You want to create a conversation with your users to improve their experience, not sell them something else. 

Spirit Roots was on the right track letting their users know that they released an update that should fix the problem of dying too easily in the game. However, you can see that they asked each reviewer to consider changing their rating. This is not outright asking for a higher rating but can seem dishonest and spammy because the exact same reply is used for every user who complained about this issue. 

Avoid asking app users to change their app rating
Spirit Roots almost got it right but fell into a bad habit of constantly asking users to change their rating

There are, however, cases where a user will leave a glowing review but, for some reason, gives a 1- or 2-star rating. In this situation, feel free to ask the user why they gave the low app rating while leaving such a great review. The user will get a notification via email or push notification that you responded and can correct their rating at that time. 

Reply to app user reviews promptly

People hate waiting, especially when it comes to customer service. Don’t keep your users waiting. Respond as soon as you can. Your users will appreciate your quick response and know that your team is working hard on improving the app. 

Hydrocoach keeps up with their user reviews and responds within one day. 

Reply to app user reviews in a timely manner to make sure users know that you are listening to them
Hydro Coach promptly responds to the app user reviews they get

In addition, more recent reviews are likely to be highlighted on your app store listing page. By replying as fast as possible, you ensure that your featured app reviews contain a developer response. This undoubtedly strengthens your app brand and makes your app more appealing to potential users. 

Highlighted reviews are shown on your app store listing page so it's important that you reply to every app user review
Highlighted reviews that are shown directly on the app store listing page

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Give further resources such as support contact information, FAQs page, or documentation

When appropriate, give the user further resources that they can use to enhance their app experience. This may be times when an issue the user encountered requires more support or a complete solution. 

Don’t be afraid to take the conversation off of Google Play or App Store. There are instances where you want to continue the conversation through email with your support team. By communicating on another channel, such as email, you can dive deeper into the bug, feature request, or other problems or requests. In addition, you will probably solve an issue that would have led to a negative review. You end up preventing a negative review and instead influence the user to leave a positive one. 

Bumble quickly reassured the user that they are a top priority to the Bumble team. By providing a specific feedback email, they can continue the conversation and better resolve the issue. 

Provide further resources like a support email so that your app users can easily reach you before leaving any negative app user reviews
Bumble provides their app users with a support email

Make sure that the contact information to your support team and links to your FAQs are also clearly displayed in your app store listing, usually in the description. That way, users have the option of communicating directly with you before they publish a public app store review. 

Forward billing and downloading issues to Apple

Billing and download issues are not uncommon for both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store customers. These could be refund requests, double subscription problems, stalled downloads, and more. 

Apple App Store Billing and Download Issues

Subscriptions and downloads on the Apple App Store are handled exclusively by Apple As an iOS developer, you should be forwarding any billing or download issues to Apple. Since They’ll do an initial investigation into the problem. If they discover that it is indeed a problem on your side, they’ll reach out to you.  

The users also have to understand that these types of problems are not on your table. When responding to complaints about billing or downloading, be clear that you’ll be forwarding the complaint to Apple. You should also give the user the correct links to contact Apple. That way, the problem gets resolved faster, and you increase the likelihood that the user will change their negative app rating to a positive one. 

Google Play Billing and Download Issues

Google Play works a bit differently since the Play Store functions across various operating systems and devices. Android developers hold the primary responsibility for subscription and install problems. 

First, give your users a way to reach you outside of Google Play. These types of problems will involve dealing with private information such as credit card numbers or user account details. Don’t discuss these items publicly because they can put your app and also your users at risk. 

Blinkist offers their users a support email and mentions that they’ll work to get a refund for the user. 

Blinkist offers a way for the user to get a refund on their in-app subscription
Blinkist offers a way for the user to get a refund on their in-app subscription

Tell your usersabout app updates and bug fixes

Did you release an app update that implements new features and fixes bugs? Let your users know! Aside from release notes or push notification about updating, there is one very important task you need to complete. The task is going back through your app store reviews and replying to the users who wanted these new features or reported the bugs. 

Letting them know does a lot more than putting a piece of mind in your head. Your users will realize that you are working to build an app for them and that you care about their opinions. Users who want the new features will be excited to get back into your app and use them. That’s because they begin to feel like they also have a hand in the app development. They’re now a part of your app’s community. 

Disney does a great job at listening to their users and check back. They took in the user’s notes and released an update to fix the bugs. Then they made sure to tell the user that a new update is now available. 

Disney Plus replies to their app user reviews lets their users know that a new update which fixes UX problems has been released
Disney Plus lets their users know that a new update which fixes UX problems has been released

Users who were the unfortunate lot to come upon bugs will be equally happy. If they left your app because they were frustrated, they’d be quick to come back to see the improvements. In this way, you can bring back old loyal app users who, for one reason or another, left and were wary of returning. 

Also, when you respond to a user review, the user will get notified that their review received a developer response. They can see what you updated, go back to check out the app, and finally change their initial low rating to a higher one. It’s a win-win for everyone! 

This Camera360 user ended up changing their negative rating to a 5-stars after receiving a reply to their app review. 

Camera360 was able to change a low rating to a high one purely by responding to the app user review
Camera360 was able to change a low rating to a high one purely by responding to the app user review

Replying to reviews is one of the best ways to not only bring in new users but also increase your app retention rate

Address each app user personally but be sure not to release private information

It’s always nice to know that someone is listening to your opinion. That’s why it’s essential to address users personally when you’re responding to their app store review. They’ll use a username, even one as silly as “omg stop it already” that you can call them by. Asana Rebel did a great job just by starting their response with “Hi omg stop it already”. The user instantly recognizes that the Asana Rebel team actually read the review and is publishing a geniune response. 

Asana Rebel adds a personal touch to their app user replies
Asana Rebel adds a personal touch to their app user replies

Being personal comes with boundaries. It is the internet after all. No one wants their personal information spread around. Be careful not to release, even accidentally, personal information. That includes full names, emails, and other private details. This also goes for your own information. Protect the privacy of yourself and your users

Stay on-brand by responding with a voice that reflects your app

Lastly, Your app store reviews is the perfect place to establish and strengthen your app brand. A brand is how people view your app. Is your app fun or serious? Is it for a younger or an older audience? Is it targeted towards a specific gender or region? And digging deeper, what is the purpose of your app? What does your mission statement say? What problems are you solving? 

These are all questions that lead to building a solid brand for your app. So what does this have to do with replying to user reviews? Well, the voice, tone, and words you use to communicate with your users are all part of the branding package.  

For example, Freeletics uses #clapclap in their developer response to reflect the fun and supportive community feels that they exude in their fitness app brand.

Freeletics establishes their app brand by responding to app user reviews in a fun and casual manner
Freeletics establishes their app brand by responding to app user reviews in a fun and casual manner

The hashtagged reply does not fit with every single app. You have to decide for yourself what fits and what doesn’t fit for your brand. 

By using app review reply templates, you can come up with several phrases or ways to say something that fits in with your existing app brand and use these time and time again. Users will become familiar with the way you communicate with them, the way you talk. As a result, your app becomes easily recognizable and also relatable. 

Replying to App User Reviews Best Practices Summary

Always reply to the user reviews that your app gets. It can only help your app grow when done right. Put into practice these do's and dont's of replying to app user reviews and you'll be off to a great start.

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Genie is the Marketing Manager at App Radar. She drives exciting in-house campaigns and collaborations to get the word out about app marketing and growth strategies.
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