Weekly App Review: Why Waze Has Great Reviews, but Not Perfect Ones

Helpshift’s Review Analytics gives a thorough, actionable breakdown of what people say about your product in the app store. You now have the ability to transform feedback into a solid product development and marketing strategy at scale. Every week we’ll provide data-driven insights for an app based on its publicly available user ratings.

Waze has a global average review score of 3.9 on iOS, excluding ratings without a review attached. How has Waze seen such great reviews, and where do the small amount of bad reviews come from?


You can see from the sentiments (tracked from Apr 8 to May 1) that Waze has consistently amazing reviews. The app hasn’t suffered a single bad review spike in the past 3 weeks despite the hundreds of reviews they have received. That’s an accomplishment–any developer could tell you that users are often unwilling to leave positive feedback even if they use the app daily. In fact, less than 1% of iOS devs have half of all the app reviews ever.

Without gaining 5-star reviews, any app will have trouble with the organic acquisition needed to compete in the competitive app marketplace. If two products are essentially the same, would you go for the 3-star rated or 5-star rated one?

Getting positive feedback isn’t as simple as making a great product. You also need incentivized methods of bringing happy users into the rating section. Waze uses a rating prompt to ask whether a user is happy and, if they are, Waze will ask them to leave a review. Circa also uses this strategy to gain consistent 5 star reviews, and even admits that nearly all of their reviews are asked for. That’s just what it takes.

If the majority of Waze’s users are leaving happy reviews, let’s find out why a small portion of their users are leaving less-than-5-star reviews:


One customer complains that he can’t report accidents during the app’s “invisible” mode. He exclaims “Why would you do this, Waze!?” Another simply wants the option to know if his route has a pay toll. The last example notes great improvements with Waze, but says that the app often fails to find routes for him. All of the reviews have one thing in common: they are temporary problems lowering Waze’s app store optimization.

The majority of bad reviews contain either feedback that can be used to improve the app, or a temporary problem that could be solved in moments. Customers complain about those issues in the app store because they feel it’s the only way you’ll listen to them. Excellent customer care acts as a filter between an upset customer and the app store. That’s why improving your support will directly affect organic acquisition (via app store visibility), retention, and overall success. It’s the strategy that most companies are quickly adopting.

To divert those temporary issues, Waze should enable customers to leave direct native feedback from the app instead of through email or forums. Their “Contact Us” should be friendly and obvious from a UI perspective. When News Republic switched from email to native messaging, their customers were far more willing to reach out directly instead of through other means. Waze could then continue their review prompt strategy after those temporary problems have been solved–effectively transforming low reviews into high ones to create a perfect score.

Continue learning how to create a perfect app rating with the Guide to Great App Store Ratings & Reviews.

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In summary:

  • Waze uses review prompts to help guide happy users toward the app store, which is a proven strategy to bolster app store optimization. Other apps like Circa have similar tactics. Most customers won’t leave reviews unless you ask them.
  • When most reviews are great, bad reviews are likely crucial feedback or temporary issues. Customers only leave feedback in the app store because they feel that’s where to best be heard. Waze should enable users to contact them natively so that temporary problems don’t affect organic acquisition via app store visibility.
  • If Waze leveraged their effective rating prompt strategy right after a user’s issue gets resolved natively, the 3-star reviews would be transformed into 5-stars, creating a perfect score for Waze. It would help if their “Contact Us” was more obvious to users.

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