Today I finally want to finish on a series of articles I started four years ago: App Store Optimization.
Parts of this series on App Store Optimization are:
This final part will treat the topic of a game’s most important resource: its users. Why is it considered App Store Optimization? Because ratings are really important, and on Google Play especially keywords in ratings have a high priority. Also downloads and download/uninstall ratio play an important role when it comes to your app being placed in the charts.
Users are the most important thing to have for your app. Without users there’s no visibility and without visibility, there are no new users and without a satisfying amount of users, there are no earnings. As a rule of thumb it is more expensive to acquire new users than to make existing users stay. That’s why you should take good care of them.
Most of your users will never give you any feedback. If they don’t like your app, they simply uninstall it and move on to the next. This is why you should give your best when dealing with the small percentage of your users that invest some of their time to get in touch with you. Here are some things to consider regarding communication and mindset when talking to them.
The user is never wrong
and is right most of the time. No matter how stupid your user seems to be, you should take your time and ask yourself what may have been the cause for his behaviour. He took some of his time to get in contact with you, so he must care of your application to some degree
Dealing with feedback
Sometimes, you will receive great, sometimes not so great and sometimes pretty bad feedback.
Great feedback can be just encouraging like “great job, I love your app” or similar. It can also be “I like your game but I find it hard to go through process xyz.”, giving a clear idea of where to improve your app. Also feedback in the form of “I can’t finish the tutorial on level three” is a great feedback because it gives a clear idea where you have room to improve.
Feedback that is pretty bad is the kind of feedback that is not transporting constructive criticism. Something like “Your game is boring, ugly and not fun at all!” or just “Shit” are not very encouraging and give you no idea of where you could improve to satisfy this particular user. You will need to get in contact and try to find out what is wrong. If they reply, the chances that their feedback will turn into something better are very high, because this shows that they care about your product. You just need to communicate with your customers in a suitable way in order to make them feel valued.
Here are some tips on how you can achieve that.
Basics of user communication
There are some dos and don’ts you should know about when communicating with your users.
1. Always reply
This should be pretty obvious. Whenever you are receiving feedback, you should reply quickly. When it’s a positive one that is just saying you did a good job, you can fire back a quick message saying thank you. When you are receiving negative feedback, you should go into more depth and try to find out what the user is really complaining about.
2. Never fight
A fight occurs when two forces are colliding and this is the feeling you’re getting when dealing with bad customer service that isn’t actually trying to do service to its customers. When taking care of your users, a fight is when two forces (the user and you) are colliding and both are losing (you, because the user is never wrong and you therefore can’t be right and the user because after experiencing a bad app he also experienced bad customer service).
3. Forget your ego and personal opinion
Feedback may be insulting or appear illogical to you. Something like “This dialog should not be shown to me, it is not my problem when my device has no internet connection, it is the app’s” invites you to reply with an opinion and flood the user with arguments. Resist that urge, as it may very likely result in a fight. Even when you are attacked personally, it is not about you, it is about you building an application that is creating a great user experience (not a great developer or customer care experience).
4. Be humble
Instead be humble. Ask the user for his feedback and excuse for not meeting his expectations. This is absolutely necessary because it is very likely that, after having made a provocative statement, the user is expecting a reply that is trying to disprove him, i. e. he is expecting a fight. This behaviour will increase the likeliness of him rethinking his position.
5. Ask questions
After having resisted the urge to impose your opinion on your user, start working together in one direction with them. Ask questions on why they are not satisfied and what you could do to change that. Disappointment always results out of expectations that have not been met, so you need to find out what the user actually was expecting from your application.
6. Be personal
It is important to create a connection to your user and not sound like an automated message. Most people don’t like to talk to anonymous people or robots. This is why you should avoid ending your messages with something like “Kind regards, the Andlabs-team”. “Kind regards, Johannes from the Andlabs-team” is better. You can even introduce yourself in the beginning when you have the feeling it is appropriate. For a nice read on how to do this right, take a look at Slack’s communication during #SlackDown.
Here is a quick answer on one of the typical “it sucks” kind of comment:“Hi [userXYZ], thank you for your feedback. My name is Johannes, I’m Andlabs’ CEO. I’m sorry for the trouble you had with our application. I understand you are having issues with our app and we would like to solve them. It would be great if you could give us a more precise description on what we could change in [Appname] in order to make it a better experience for you. Can you tell us what you are missing or don’t like? Is there anything else we can do for you to enjoy our app? Thank you again. Best regards, Johannes”
Your aim when writing a message like this should always be to make your user feel valued. The level of formality depends on the platform, medium and number of messages you exchanged. Usually I start in a rather formal tone, transitioning to something more informal as the communication proceeds, but only if the user’s language is informal too.
In my experience so far, after sending messages like this, the user’s mood was always cooled down in their reply and their problem could often be identified as a feature they couldn’t understand or find in the app.
When the feedback is more particular, you can be more precise and give feedback like “Feature XY will be implemented with the next update which we are publishing on March 27. You can enable it when going to the settings and clicking on ‘Feature XY'”, before asking if there is anything else you can improve on.
How not to do it
Now, here is a real live how-not-to example of a reply to a negative feedback on the Google Play Store:“Dear customer, we are sorry for the inconvenience. Our teams are currently working in order to match your expectations. A new version of the app is available. Please feel free to send us your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to improve the app’s experience. The Appname Team”
How would you feel after reading such a reply? Would you feel treated good? Like a valued customer? Would you write your feedback again to their provided email-address?
This reply is generic from the way the user is addressed to the signature of the message and the space in between is filled with generic content. The fact that they are saying they are working on matching your expectations is followed by a sentence that is essentially saying that they didn’t read your comment, since “A new version of the app is available” has no value to the user besides implicitly saying that his expectations may be fulfilled and he should try and see, but they don’t actually know. This again is implying that “Our teams are currently working (…) to match your expectations” may be a lie since they did not actually read the user’s feedback.
In this case, it would have probably been better to leave the user alone and not reply at all. This kind of user treatment cannot be acceptable.
Whenever communicating with your customer, never reply in a rage. Try to see how you would feel when being in your customer’s position.
You will see how satisfying it is when a user’s opinion changes to the better and you are able to work together and create a win-win solution.
I’m curious to hear the stories you had when communicating with users or customer care. Please share them in the comments.
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