Good reviews are important to any business, but for those with a mobile app, they are paramount. My company Apptentive conducted a survey in July of 362 consumers who use Android and iPhones daily. Our results showed that the difference between two and four stars could be the difference between 50,000 and 270,000 installs.
Since there are over 2.5 million apps between the App Store and Play Store alone, reviews and ratings are one of the few mechanisms that help people find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Good or bad, every rating hits you twice. As a vital piece of ranking algorithms, it dictates whether a customer even sees your app in search results, and once they do find you, it plays a huge role in the decision to install.
People tend to think of ratings and reviews as a democratized black box of public opinion. The reality--and the good news, if you're an app publisher--is that there are many steps you can take to turn reviews into a predictable boon rather than a potential punishment.
Here are some strategies to make ratings and reviews work for your company:
Trigger Rating Prompts
When and how you ask for feedback has a huge impact on the quality of that feedback. One way to generate more positive reviews and ratings is to locate the "key mobile moments" throughout your customer journey. Key mobile moments occur when you know people are most likely to be having a positive experience with your app. Whether a person has completed an in-app task, unlocked a reward or has engaged with the app in a new way, look for interactions that yield positive outcomes and satisfaction for the customer when putting together your initial list of key moments.
The best question to ask yourself when deciding whether or not a key mobile moment exists is, "How can I communicate with my app customers without driving them crazy?" Once you've figured the timing out for your brand, implement an intelligent ratings prompt to ask your customers for feedback at the right time. We found that by automatically triggering a rating or review prompt at one of these moments, publishers can see five-star reviews increase by 80 percent or more.
Circumvent Negative Ratings and Reviews
In many apps, a low star rating is the only outlet people have to express any frustration or confusion. By identifying the behavior that is likely to lead to a bad review and providing alternative channels for customer communication, you can circumvent negative ratings and gather valuable feedback. Additional communication channels to help understand customer frustration include engaging in two-way conversations through messaging, giving in-app surveys, and asking for ratings and reviews at the right time.
Another way to circumvent negative ratings and reviews is to ask for feedback when a customer is having difficulty completing an in-app action that you know may lead to frustration. In fact, in our experience, unhappy customers who are asked for their opinion on an app are 400 percent more likely to return to the app than the average app customer. Customers relate to brands when they feel their opinion is valued, hopefully leading to happiness instead of what was originally dissatisfaction.
Turn Critics Into Advocates
Negative reviews are unavoidable, but their negative impact is not.By putting tools and systems in place (such as intelligent ratings prompts and in-app messaging) to intelligently manage and respond to negative feedback, you can turn negative app experiences into positive brand experiences. When handling negative customer sentiment, it's imperative to avoid getting defensive and to be fair when you evaluate the complaints. If your brand is communicative and involves the customer throughout the entire problem solving process, they are more likely to turn their anger into advocacy once the situation is resolved.
When you can resolve a customer issue, you reduce their likelihood of churning, and you also create a ripple effect of goodwill that can reduce overall churn and prompt more positive engagement. Involving customers in the success in solving a problem brings them closer to the brand than they've ever been through validation and empathy, which is exactly what turns critics into advocates.
Ratings and reviews are a high-stakes game, but with the right tools and training, it's a game you can win.
Robi Ganguly is the CEO of Apptentive, the easiest way for every company with an app to talk with their customers. The Google Ventures backed company works with major app publishers and enables millions of customer conversations. Prior to Apptentive Robi worked at Yahoo! and built WebEx's pricing strategy.