If you put an app in the app store, you will encounter the fun side effect that is ratings and reviews. There is no way of turning off this “feature” that tells you exactly what your users think of your solution. You can’t hide. And we love that. Why?
Well, there are a few different reasons. We feel that a lot of businesses don’t care too much about their users these days. They have a business model that still works, not necessarily because of their level of innovation or focus on the end user, but because they haven’t gotten enough competition yet.
Having an app in the app store gives the end users a publicly available complaint/suggestion box. If some users have issues with the app, you are going to hear it, whether you like it or not. On the flipside, if you saved someone's day, you are probably going to hear about that as well. It also makes it clear how interested a company is in solving their problems, as one can look into the reviews and see for how long an issue has been reported.
Ratings - from a users perspective
Users love being able to give ratings and write reviews. It makes them feel seen. It gives them a voice. It also makes them feel less alone – seeing that they’re not the only ones to encounter issues with the app or love the app.
Ratings vs reviews
OK, we should probably delve into an important aspect of this discussion – the connection between a rating and a review. A rating is a user clicking on a 1-5 stars, and alongside that, they can choose to write a review. While the ratings themselves are interesting, it’s in the reviews you’ll get a proper insight into what you’re doing right and wrong. A one star rating is just telling you that someone hates your app, while a one star review tells you why someone hates your app.
Gaming the ratings
Very often, we get asked by the clients how they can improve their ratings. And there are some easy solutions and some hard ones… So to start out with the hard ones – it is simply by fixing whatever problem they encounter. So yes, the “hard ones” can also be simple. But they could point out major issues with your backend systems or even your organizational structure, which might take years to change.
The “simple” solution is trying to game the system. You can do this by asking the user to give a review after they’ve done something that makes them happy, and only asking the people that use your service often or (based on other data) seem to like your service.
If you see a lot of negative feedback, you should implement a solution in your app for the users to send their angry feedback directly to you. This way you can tell the users that you are actually reading the feedback and take it seriously. Depending on the system you use for handling this feedback, it might be easier for the team to discuss the feedback you get. A simple email into a Slack channel could be sufficient. Then you can contact the users with follow up questions as well.
New features for fun and profit
For most apps, it’s creators/owners have a lot of ideas of where to take the app in the coming years. But – these ideas might not always align with what the users want. And adding these features could actually decrease the rating, especially if it’s implemented in a way that clutters up the information architecture of the app, and makes their functionality less obvious.
But, in the reviews, you can find a lot of gold regarding potential business opportunities! A lot of users also have ideas about what they would like to use the app for. And giving people what they want has a bigger potential of succeeding than coming up with something from scratch. The users could be telling you what they’re willing to give you more money for.
We love app ratings because they tell us the truth about what the users feel about an app. And truth might be the most important ingredient when it comes to innovation.
And yes, you can take some shortcuts to a better app rating, but that’s not really utilizing the full power of the ratings and reviews. You could also hire people to give your apps a better rating, but you’ll just end up with more expenses and a worse app.
You should take your users' perspective seriously. You should manage to improve the app rating of your apps, just by focusing on what the users tell you. The rating is a representation of how your apps make people feel, and trust me when I say it feels great to see that it improves!
Keep your eyes on this blog as we’ll delve into other aspects of the app ratings and reviews in the weeks to come.