How To Make The Most of Negative App Reviews

By Stef dela Cruz, MD on January 2, 2013

All app developers have one common fear: receiving negative app reviews. Every piece of bad feedback hurts, whether you admit it or not. But there’s no reason to dread negative app reviews; after all, you can use them for your own benefit.

Above is an actual cropped screenshot of a particular health app’s negative reviews. As an app developer, reading the words “awful” and “inaccurate” in reviews is going to hurt – unless you know exactly what to do. Below are 5 tips on how to make the most of negative app reviews. Read, pay attention, and start taking (mental) notes.

5 Tips on How to Make The Most of Negative App Reviews

If you want to be a productive app developer, then you should breathe, count to ten, and bring out the optimist in you with these suggestions.

  1. Use negative feedback to make your product more competitive. All those bad reviews you get don’t have to hurt your marketing efforts. You can put them to good use by taking one moment to listen to every complaint. Modify your app based on what actual users have to say and you’ll be the better person app developer for it. For instance, OfficeDrop decided to listen to their users and offered a limited free version of their app after complaints started pouring in – and it was a good call.
  2. Whenever you receive an outpouring of bad app reviews, you’re in the limelight – and you should use this opportunity wisely. Read: this is probably one of the most useful tips on how to make the most of negative app reviews. App users aren’t just looking for brilliant developers; they’re also looking for developers who give a damn. So, use your social networks to handle the negative app reviews gracefully and customers will respect you, even if they don’t approve of your app! For instance, GateGuru once changed their app features to their users’ dismay – and once the complaints came in, they replied with such compassion that users wanted to give them a second chance. 
  3. Gather user statistics from everyone who submitted a negative app review. Who hates your app the most, is it only those who use a specific device? Perhaps your app isn’t compatible with it. Or do people from a specific country criticize it more often? Your user reviews page on Google Play will tell you which people using which phones hate your app. In a nutshell: the stats you get from bad reviews will help you troubleshoot. 
  4. Exploit negative app reviews to gain more publicity. So what if it started out as bad publicity? Bayo, an Asian clothing company, used a potentially racist campaign for their stores by identifying the ratios of mixed races – and people reacted violently. The advertising nightmare became so popular that it spawned a Facebook meme. Instantly, Bayo became the most talked-about clothing brand! Because of this (negative) publicity, Bayo decided to put up their controversial ads on all their store windows nationwide. Notice how the horror story turned into a success story?
  5. Use negative reviews of your app to introduce a brand new app. Imagine having a really substandard app that everybody hates. Why not use this as the perfect excuse to introduce a new app that will make up for the crummy one? Make your old, crappy app as the launch pad for a brand-spanking-new app that will blow their mind.

With these 5 useful tips on how to make the most of negative app reviews, there’s no need to fret. Every complaint and negative reaction you receive can be good for you!

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