How to deal with user complaints in Android app reviews

Complaints don’t belong in Google Play’s review pages! But if they do end up there… Here’s how to deal with them.

Google announced at I/O that developers can now reply to their app reviews on Google Play. So what does this mean for app developers and what is the best way to approach customer service with this new feature?

If you look closely at feedback on reviews they’re often not actually reviews at all. Our own analysis of app store reviews reveals that 49% of negative app store reviews are complaints, bug reports, or feature requests. These should have been taken care of privately with customers, before they landed in the app store leaving reviews.

It only takes a few negative reviews to throw off your apps overall rating. Consumers will use ratings to compare similar apps, so the goal here is to keep customer conversations out of reviews to maintain high ratings.

A restaurant doesn’t want to find out that they served cold food through a Yelp review, right? It shouldn’t get to that point; deal with customer issues before they have a chance to influence app ratings through negative feedback.

Something is better than nothing

This is a step in the right direction for developers. The two-sided discussions will ultimately help produce quality apps which is also an important measure of customer satisfaction.

And the need for this feature is evident in these developers comments

Developer discussion

Developer discussion

Developer discussion

Embrace this new way forward

The announcement was met with mixed reactions. Public conversations can quickly spiral out of control and if not handled properly, into a ‘he said’ / ‘she said’ public debate that doesn’t end well for anyone. And no one wants to manage yet another inbox.

To help you make the best of this new feature, we’ve prepared a few tips for managing your Google Play reviews.

1. Show that you care

When people are angry, they just want to be heard. By having a presence and actively replying to reviews you can demonstrate that you care about your customers in-app experience. Equally as important, potential users scanning reviews will take comfort in knowing that you take feedback seriously.

2. Communication 101

App developers aren’t the first to have issues with reviews. Yelp – a business built on reviews provides some great advice on how to approach replies.

Relevant points for app developers:

  • Keep your message simple. If you can be specific about the customer’s experience and any changes you may have made as a result, this could go very far in earning trust.
  • If your reviewer perceives that you are being rude, condescending or disingenuous in any way, there’s a chance he or she could get angry and make the situation even worse. Keep in mind that this is a vocal customer who could well copy and paste your message all over the Web.
  • Comments that simply thank users for positive reviews without providing new information can be perceived as overbearing.


3. Make the most of it

If the feature is limited, this will mean:

  • No alerts for developers when a review is posted
  • Only 1 developer response allowed per review

Google’s comment posting policy discourages you from including links and email addresses in replies. However, we believe that customers issues should be solved as quickly and efficiently as possible:

  1. Point to existing content (e.g FAQ’s, reference documentation, web content)
    Tip: If you’re with Helpshift, use the permalinks to direct users to the solution.
  2. Directing users to a support email address moves the discussion away from a public forum. Plus other users will see your email address and contact you directly instead of mouthing off in a review.
See how some developers are making this work for them.

Expensify - Android Apps on Google Play

BaconReader for Reddit - Android Apps on Google Play

While we hope these tips help you, the best piece of advice we can give is this: find a way to keep complaints away from precious review walls. Nail that and 5 star reviews are yours for the taking.

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