Protect your app from negative reviews.

It’s really hard to reach a person who left a negative review (by negative I mean 3 and less stars). Windows Store and Google Play are doing great job on that — you can directly reply to person who left a review. At the AppStore it’s not so easy and there is an article of best practices about how to do it so I won’t cover it here.

My question is — maybe it’s better to prevent negative reviews rathen then spend time to reach user and then try to convert them to positive reviews?

On my personal experience for few years of working with users I can hightlight 3 ways to reduce number of negative reviews:

  1. Feedback option. Add to your app ability to send you (developer, support team) a direct message.
  2. Auto-email if error occurs. Catch most-probable situation which can nudge users to leave a negative review.
  3. Compensation. If you have any in-apps, make it possible to compensate it if something doesn’t work.

Let’s go a bit deeply to each step.

Feedback option.

Our app App in the Air basically has one main action — tracking flights. So you need to add a flight to explore airports, watch for delays and talk with other passengers. If you didn’t find your flight, you can’t use app at 100% percent (actually you can add any other flight, but this would be in other post). Imagine you search for your flight (for which you have tickets) and it’s not available in the search results. The worst situation is that if you found your first flight, but not return flight. You mad, right?

We’ve decided to place most common issues (because we analyze them previously) why flight can’t be found in our app to help users “review their search”. The results is decrease in “flight not found” indicator by as much as 30%. (from 7% to 5%). Also, there is a button “report a problem”. Since we introduce this option, we receive almost zero negative store reviews about “flight not found”. How it looks like:

“Flight not found” page
Feedback screen with pre-filled query

So when you didn’t find your flight you simple tap “report a problem” and all your query copy to feedback field. You can add your comment as well. We receive this info and try to help people find their flight (because there are more than 4 cases why you can’t find flight).

Auto-email if error occurs.

Lets be honest — our apps have bugs. It definitely has several potential places where something can go wrong. This can hurt user. The result could be either loss of user or negative review. Mostly, it’s both.

So if you know your weak places. Use it! Create an automatic trigger so that in case of error, send email to user (if you know it). You may find MandrillApp useful. It looks something like this:

Greeting email

Don’t ask like “I saw you had an error with Facebook connect. May I suggest you to…”. It can turn your user to paranoid.


This is mostly the case when you have in-apps or paid app (much worse in terms of this point). Imagine you download a free game and bought some content, but it didn’t appear in the app. Well, you as developer, can track these issues and send email to user. OK, you are talking to user now (doesn’t matter how it happend). He is in a bad mood: he paid for something that doesn’t work. Of course, he can make a refund, but it’s a long process and I bet it’s not +1 for your karma.

Instead you can make a remote action to compensate it, i.e. either “turn on” for this user content for which he paid (so you need to create this logic before publishing the app) or give him a promo code (which you generate remotely too) so he can activate it in the app and have his paid content back. As a result, problem solved, user happy for your responsibility and you have found new issue.

P.S. Build into your app’s settings “Leave a feedback / contact with developer / Get support” option. Believe me, users want to help to improve your app or just understand the situation.

How do you prevent your app from bad reviews? Leave comment!

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