Undesirable Effects of Negative App Store Reviews

According to a Dimensional Research survey, 7% of users who experience an app crash or other negative experience will leave a negative review in the App Store. Further, the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer states that most customers are likely to tell 16 or more people about a poor customer service experience. That hurts. Prevent negative App Store reviews and improve your customer service game using the following methods.

Test Your Product Thoroughly

The best way to prevent negative App Store reviews is to offer a solid product from the start. “Build a solid product” doesn’t mean over-building your product before release. Instead, it means ensuring that whatever you do release to customers is functional and easy to use. There are several practices you can put in place to ensure that you have a stable, well-tested product. I recommend automated testing for any software product. Automated testing prevents regressions as you add on new features, and gives you a handy tool for quickly reproducing—and eliminating—software defects.

Also deploy an early version of your product to a beta test group. Your test group can be an informal group of friends and family, or sourced by a professional testing service such as Applause. Review feedback from your test group and incorporate their suggestions to improve your app. By doing so, you should have a much smoother experience with your entire user base.

Set Expectations with Users

Secondly, no user experience is perfect. No matter how hard you try to simplify your product’s user experience, there will always be some rough spot someone comes across. When you take the time to set appropriate expectations with the user, and help them navigate through those rough spots, you prevent negative App Store reviews. People are much more likely to accept an undesirable experience if they know what to expect. This is especially true if there is a clear benefit to going through the undesirable experience. No one likes getting a flu shot, but most people would prefer that over an increased chance of contracting the flu.

For example, I don’t believe there is any way around inserting a line of code into your mobile app to integrate with Critic. That’s just going to have to happen. However, I have worked to make integration as simple as possible. I still didn’t feel great about the first-time user experience, though, so I added a progress spinner and messaging about what would happen next. Imagine having no indication of what would happen next. Simply informing the user of what will happen makes this a much better experience.

Improving Even Unavoidable Problems

Similarly, other user experience issues may be unavoidable. Perhaps you absolutely must require users to fill out information on 10 different screens to comply with some crazy government-mandated process. That’s horrifying, but something you can at least walk users through. In that example, you can display a progress bar at the top of each screen showing how many steps are remaining. Alternatively, showing the estimated time remaining to complete the process can give users insight into the remaining level of effort. With no “time remaining” indicator, users have no idea how long they will be stuck in your app. However, with a “time remaining” indicator, they know exactly what to expect and will be more tolerant of the experience.

Offer Excellent Customer Support

Additionally, customer support can be a safeguard that helps prevent negative App Store reviews. When handled well—when users feel heard and taken care of—support interactions can mitigate the risk of users writing negative reviews. Even if they have problems, good support interactions result in people becoming advocates for your service. Speaking to a human being that understands their problems and empathizes with them is therapeutic. Venting a little bit, hearing someone validate how they feel, and then talking through solutions with a knowledgeable support person can make a big difference in how people perceive your product.

Provide an In-App Feedback Method

The best way to prevent negative App Store reviews is to prevent users from returning to your App Store listing. Going back to the App Store is inconvenient anyway. Someone has to be pretty happy or pretty frustrated to go all the way out of your app to find your listing and leave a review. So how about we cut them off before they get there?

Gather User Feedback with Critic

By offering a feedback solution within your app, users have no need to return to your App Store listing. Intercepting users and asking for feedback before they leave your app will prevent negative App Store reviews. Critic helps you do this effortlessly. In just a minute and one line of code, you can add in-app feedback to your mobile or web application.

Proactively Request Feedback After Negative Experiences

Have you ever been so frustrated with your phone that you just had to shake it? Critic responds to that! Shake-to-report feedback is intended as a simple way for internal testers to invoke a bug report screen. However, the feature is also a useful way to detect very frustrating experiences in a published app. You can also invoke a Critic feedback screen programmatically at any time.

When are some good times to ask for feedback from customers? You should absolutely prompt the user for feedback after a crash. Additionally, any time something severely negative happens in the application, you should consider asking for feedback. These negative experiences are best described as undesirable outcomes in business logic or use cases.

For example, in a sports bracket app, you might prompt users to provide in-app feedback after their predicted winning team loses. While their team losing does not reflect poorly on the quality of your app, their experience after losing may. Users may surprise you by expressing disappointment that there’s nothing to do once their team loses. You may find new ways to re-engage those users (e.g., comparing to others’ brackets or viewing game highlights).

In a future post I’ll detail the opposite: extremely positive experiences that you should flag as a prompting cue for positive App Store reviews.

Automatically Submit Crash Reports

You can programmatically detect most app crashes. Even errors in business logic can be detected with a little work. In instances where you can detect a problem automatically, send crash reports without requiring user intervention. Further, notify the user through an in-app dialog that you saw they experienced a problem, will work to fix it, and will notify them when a fix has been implemented. Alternatively you can inform them that you detected the crash and prompt them for additional information to send with your bug report. Critic supports all of these use cases through client libraries available on GitHub.

Respond to User Feedback

Inevitably, your users will have problems. When it does happen, craft an effective response to their problems to prevent negative app store reviews. Ensure that you thank your user, acknowledge their problem, validate their feelings, and give them a solution. If you can, offer them something for their assistance in helping you build a better product. Following this response template will result in fewer detractors, higher retention, and more vocal advocates that refer new customers to you.

Use Critic to Prevent Negative App Store Reviews

Critic gives you a simple way to add in-app bug reporting and customer feedback into your app. By giving users a way to submit feedback within your app, you are decreasing the likelihood of them leaving a negative review in the App Store. Prevent negative App Store reviews and respond to problems more quickly by signing up for Critic today.