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How to Handle Negative App Reviews?

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on September 25th, 2022 10:50 am
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App Builder Appy Pie, February 19, 2018: Everyone loves a compliment and most of the negative comments have an unsettling effect on us, no matter who we are and no matter where the comment comes from. As an entrepreneur in the mobile app industry or as an app developer, it is only natural that apart from the good reviews and compliments there that there would be a good number of negative reviews coming your way. While the good reviews keep you motivated by giving you a positive boost for your good work and a good app ranking is crucial for ASO, the negative feedback or reviews have their own special place and importance as well. It is natural to be disheartened by the negative reviews and feel a little let down but there is no reason to let them make you feel any lesser or second guess yourself.

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In this blog post we will talk about the importance of negative app reviews for an app developer and the ways in which you can handle them in a constructive manner.

The Importance Of A Negative App Review

Much like everything else that you do in life, the app that you make can not please everyone! Even if your app is the best thing to happen since sliced bread, there would always be someone who would put in a bad review for it. However, today you have the option to stop sulking and actually do something about it! A negative review is a treasure trove of priceless information for you, which might or might not have emerged in front of your eyes through extensive research and testing, which might have involved some sort of an investment from your end as well.

There are developers who have actually managed to turn the table by using the negative reviews as opportunities to reach out to the consumers and establish a relationship and sometimes gain a loyal customer for life. The negative app reviews can act as your personal assistant in weeding out the problem areas and you can even stumble into an innovation that might offer your app a new dimension to explore and evolve.

So, do not let a negative review or any other negative feedback rub you the wrong way, instead approach it with the right response strategy and a suitable mindset to handle it. Here is a list of things that you might need to consider, when you confront negative feedback on your path to success.

1. Don’t Make It Personal

The customer who wrote the reviews might have done so because their experience with your app could have been harrowing and they might have really struggled completing the core functions of your app, but there would always be some who wrote it because they were simply having a rough day. The first reaction to a negative review is often anger and in an angry state of mind you would want to respond to the reviews with fury while launching a personal attack on the reviewer. This might give you momentary satisfaction but is going to do more damage than good in the long run. In both the situations, you as a developer would have to maintain your cool and get to the root of the problem.

2. Don’t Appear Defensive

In our personal lives and professional, whenever someone points out something negative about us, it is our natural tendency to become defensive. However, as an app developer, if you become defensive, you are effectively assuming a defensive standpoint in an effort to explain away the problems, instead of truly embracing the perspective of the consumer. This attitude or approach can spell disaster for you because you effectively take a stand against your customer, instead of standing by their side. This can only further antagonize the customers and turning your relationship with them sour, instead of developing a cooperative & collaborative relationship. Keep a check on your own response to any negative reviews, so that any unpleasantness that might arise from your defensiveness may be averted in a timely manner.

3. Agree That There Is A Problem

If a person has negative feelings about your app, it is important that you acknowledge this properly. One constructive way to deal with negative feelings and feedback is to acknowledge the validity of the customer’s problems or struggles. There is generally a fear among the consumers that they are not going to be heard and that they’d need to fight hard to be able to put their points across to the app developer. When your communication first indicates that the person who is feeling upset, is right in doing so, then the ensuing tension is immediately allayed.

4. Extend Sincere Apologies

Consider this situation, you are driving down a busy street and another car next to yours bumps into your scratching the pain off. It is only natural that you are furious, and you get off of your car with the intention to argue with the other driver. In such a situation if the other driver simply apologizes to you by saying “Sorry”, your anger is going to vaporize immediately, and you would feel a great sense of relief and decompression, leaving the argument or fight redundant.

For most people an apology works wonders by reminding them that the other person is only human and that they care about them and their feelings. If your customer is really riled up and is upset about their experience with your app, start out by extending a sincere apology for all the trouble they went through, and you may even turn a potential argument into a composed and constructive conversation.

5. Make Amends For Dissatisfactory Experience

Though a sincere apology goes a long way in making the customer feel heard and valued, but there are times when it is simply not enough. In such difficult situations, it is a good idea to offer to these dissatisfied customers some reconciliatory compensation, whether it is a bunch of virtual goods or some special app related benefits with the intention to help them experience the benefits of your app and improving their opinion about your app. In doing so, you are also showing them that it was not your intent to cause them any inconvenience.

6. Take The Conversation To A More Private Channel

It is only natural that your app would have some problems, especially right after the launch. Whether these problems are big or small, they are inevitable. It is true that you can’t please everyone, however wouldn’t it be better if these bad experiences or problems were shared with you outside the app store. It is important that the users are aware that you can be reached through a variety of channels including e-mail or a support section within the app. In case there is a reviewer who is strong about leaving a negative app review on the store, you must respond in a polite way while trying to move the conversation away from the other users’ eyes.

7. Steer Clear Of The Trolls

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The agony of being preyed on by a troll is real and frustrating! There are people who, instead of reviewing your app honestly, leave a negative review or comments with the sole intent of creating a stir while hiding behind anonymity. They get the attention they crave and love to create unnecessary controversy.

Responding to these reviews or feedbacks can prove to be of great harm to you and your credibility as these trolls can draw you into long, meaningless arguments. This does not really add any value to the product, the app, or any service that you are offering. Ignoring them, or avoiding them is not always possible, however, if you are going to engage with a troll, it is important to not get carried away and engage into their level of discussion. In your communication with trolls, be nice, respond politely and have an estimate of the kind of time you are going to spend communicating with them.

8. Address The Negative Reviews Promptly

When a user or customer reports a bug or an error on a review or feedback, you are truly in hot soup! It is important to deal with these reviews really quickly. First, you thank them in their contribution to making your app better and then assure them that necessary actions are being taken to remedy the situation. The next step for you is to make sure that you solve or sort out the issue, and once that is done, return to the user and let them know that it’s done!

9. See The Bright Side

Consider every feedback or review that you receive as a statement that your users care for you. You have a customer or a user who is willing to engage with you, which means that they have taken time out to invest in a relationship that they have with you. A huge chunk, almost majority of the app users, come and go without actually leaving behind a review, when someone is taking some time out to review your app, they must care about it in some way at least. If you alter your standpoint and look at each of the review that you receive (negative & positive) as a show of care or concern for your app, you are more likely to embrace these problems without judgement and treat them as opportunities. Consider the negative feedback and show it some respect. When was the last time you took it upon yourself to let any business know about the mistakes that they might have overlooked, a long time ago, or probably never…right? So, consider the app users who complained to be special.

10. Be A Good Listener

Talking is often mistaken as communication, but the most important aspect of communication is actually the opposite of talking – listening. Remember that when an app user comes to you with any negative comments, the best way to address it is by truly listening and understanding the reason why they’re upset. It is important that you let the users vent their concerns out to you and let you know why they are upset, angry, or disappointed.

What you can discover by genuinely listening to your users and asking the right questions might surprise you pleasantly as your understanding of the user and the issue deepens. There are times when the real issue lies on the outside of your app and the user experience of your app might be getting impacted. There are times when, by listening you might come to know of a problem that is bothering your users, which you may have stayed blissfully unaware of. However, listening to a user does not mean you have to surrender and accept all their negativity. It simply means that you are looking to understand the users better and land on a common page for better response from your end.

11. Shift Perspectives

There are times when you would truly feel that the user has been suffering or struggling with your app, while there would also be times when you’d feel that the user is simply being spiteful. It is important that you learn to shift perspectives and step into your users’ shoes. Immerse yourself into the app as your user, ask them questions and revisit the relevant section of your app with the perspective of a user so that you can have a first-hand experience of what the users are struggling with. If the user is having an experience that wavers from the normal, it is still important, understand where they might be struggling and how you, as a developer can take care of it.

12. Engage The Customers

The negative reviews from a customer can be turned to your advantage by building a superior product. When a customer tells you that they need new features in your app, engage them in order to identify which features can add the maximum value to your app. If the users are complaining about bugs, keep the most pressing issues indicated by them at the top of your priority when you roll out your next update.

13. Set The Record Straight

It is unethical to get into an argument or a small-scale comments war with any dissatisfied user, but that does not mean you would have to sit quietly in face of negative reviews that are false or baseless. You, your brand, your app, and your product do not deserve that. In case you come across any comments or review that are inaccurate, you must address them with a calm mind, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Go in thinking that they didn’t know any better and that it is a good opportunity for you to make them aware while letting the whole community know as well.

After the issue has been resolved, make sure that you let everyone know that everything fine and things are on the right track now.

14. Let It Be A Learning Experience For You

Understand what your customers are trying to tell you, and figure out ways to utilize it in order enhance your app, bettering its functionality and evolving it into a better app. If there are people looking for new features then work on it, if there are a log of bugs being reported, straighten that out for them.

If you want to build an awesome app, consider the whole process a journey where the positive and the negative feedbacks give you a whole lot of information to make your app better. This helps you learn from every feedback while making your app flawless.

15. Personalize The Response

Induce a personal touch in the way you respond to a feedback. People today are looking to communicate or interact with the businesses and have inclinations to interact more with those companies that have a more human, natural, and relatable personality. An automated response does not suffice anymore, and the users neither get a solution, nor are calmed down by it. By responding to a negative review, you are essentially providing customer service of sorts. When the user gets a human response, which is polite, empathic, and offers some kind of a validation, they are placated immediately. Address them by name, introduce yourself, and maintain the same tone of voice irrespective of the channel of communication you might be using. This helps the users understand that you are human and are taking them seriously. The consistency in the tone of voice also reassures the customer that you are a legit business & operations.

Concluding Note

Bad or negative reviews might be disappointing and tough to wrap your head around, but that’s not the end of the road for you. Shift your attitude and treat them as opportunities to build a stronger product. However, as a principle do encourage the customers to share their feedback, while directing only the positive ones to the app store page.

Create Your Own App

Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie

App Builder

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