Best Practices for Replying to Google Play Reviews

Back in 2013 Google made it possible for app developers to reply to Google Play reviews. There were mixed reactions at the time, and it seems many apps still haven’t taken advantage of this new(ish) way to connect with users. We are often asked what the best practices are for replying to Google Play reviews so we’ve compiled our top tips based on the hundreds of millions of reviews in the Appbot database.

 

Why you should reply to Play Store reviews in the first place

Before the “how”, lets have a quick look at the “why” and the “what- there are a bunch of good reasons to reply to your Play Store users.

  • Stand out from the crowd

97% of Play store reviews go unanswered. Would you download an app that ignores it’s users?

  • Improve your star ratings

Useful replies can turn a 1-star review into a 5-star review. Here’s a great example from Showtime:

Play Replies Review Chain-01

  • Work out what needs fixing faster

Crashes, errors, and other critical issues are often first reported in reviews. Being proactive can also bump your star rating – this reviewer even says they want to change their star rating if they can get resolution of the problem!

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  • Connect with real users

Find out what they love, what they hate and what you could improve, from data you already have! No waiting for NPS or survey data.

 

 

Which Google Play reviews should you reply to?

Is it considered best practice to reply to every single reviewer? There are a lot of different opinions about it, but here are some rules we think are worth following as a minimum:

  • 1 and 2 star reviews – think of these as an opportunity to get 5 stars.
  • Google Play reviews that includes words such as bug, error, fix, freeze or crash. Acknowledging problems builds trust, especially if you then take action.
  • Answer any reviews that contain a criticism, even if it’s a 4 or 5 star.

If you have the resources to reply to everyone and you can do it without seeming spammy or sycophantic then I’d recommend testing it for a period and monitoring the effect it has on your star ratings.

 

 

Top 10 Best Practices for Responding to Google Play Reviews 

#1 Be on time.

Replying days or weeks after the Google Play review was left is not on. Would you leave a support email in your inbox for that long?

#2 Use names (theirs and yours!)

Reviewers are people too! A small thing, but it shows the user that you think they’re worth more than a canned response. Make like Opera and treat your users like real humans…

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#3 Bad experiences deserve an apology

Even if you don’t think a complaint is valid, it is for the user. A brief apology makes the reviewer feel heard and acknowledged.

#4 Be specific about what other information you’d like.

Reviewers are often not sure what further information is useful to you. If you really want good quality information you’ll need to ask for it clearly, like Snapdeal do:

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As a user, nothing feels worse than this kind of reply:

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where the link sends you to a generic support page like this:

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It doesn’t make you feel like the company is very interested in your issue, does it? You’re even being asked to figure out what information the company needs to resolve your problem.

#5 Tell the user what action you’ve taken (or plan to take)

The old saying is true: actions speak louder than words. Being a good listener is a good first step but in general users really want their feedback to be actioned in some way. It’s especially true if you provide real-world goods or services outside of your app, like Snapdeal do:

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#6 Point the user to useful workarounds, FAQs and help documents.

Again, keep it relevant and specific. A simple workaround or a targeted help document link might prevent the customer going elsewhere….

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#8 Respond to criticisms in 4 and 5 star reviews

Pay just as much attention to happy reviewers as you do to cranky ones – those nice people that gave you a good star rating deserve some love! Be like the awesome folk at MileIQ:

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#9 Follow up

Built a feature lots of reviewers asked for? Fixed a bug that you originally surfaced from reviews? Go back to these users and share the good news. Of course (shameless plug warning!), it’s easier to find these reviews if you have them all nicely categorized and readily searchable in Appbot 🙂

#10 If in doubt, think how you’d feel if….

When all else fails try thinking like a user. Every one of us has been received both good and bad customer support at one time or another, so use your personal experience to guide you in the right direction.

 

Avoid these Rookie Mistakes

  • Overuse of canned replies

You’re not fooling anyone, reviewers can spot canned responses a mile away….
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  • Referring every reviewer to some other support channel

This falls into the same category as over-using canned replies – sending every reviewer to your support email or helpdesk tool isn’t really helpful for the user, it’s helpful for you. Put the user first and write a considered, helpful reply… please!

  • Being over-the-top with your gratitude

Stay genuine. Unless the reviewer offered to babysit your kids for the weekend or buy you a new car try not to get too carried away.

  • Don’t argue. Ever.

Ok, so maybe you do already have the feature the angry guy that gave you a scathing 1-star review really wants. Or maybe a user has requested a feature that will never work in your app for some very justified reason. Resist the urge to argue, and send them a polite, helpful reply.

We hope you’ve found these best practices helpful! Got any other golden rules for managing replies well on the Google Play store? I’d love to hear them via email to clairem@appbot.co or on twitter @clairesayshi. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to hit share if you found this guide helpful!