Our company has an Android application online, able to be downloaded. We have a lot of daily downloads and reviews, and we currently have a pretty heavily maintained rate of 4.37/5

On the other hand, he have 33 apps that hold variations of the "main app", which are targeted to different audiences. My boss wants to release them only after we do the "official release", which will be when the app raises up to 4.65/5. That's a pretty long journey, especially when there seems to be clients that want to poorly review, despite giving any hint on what did go wrong. Some comments one can read (some of them were in other languages, so there may be rephrased sentences), with their rates in parens:

  • The good client: "There was a bug since last version and I cannot get in. Please solve it" (1/5)
  • The contradictory: "Very good" (1/5)
  • The overreacting hater: "DAMMIT I DON'T REALLY LIKE YOUR APP, BUT HEY, I'M A REALLY NICE AND FUNNY GIRL. IT'S JUST IT IS THE WORST I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!" (1/5) I promise I only stripped out the name (she was even introducing herself, for some reason), but the "nice and funny girl" part is directly taken from the comment
  • The kidnapper: "Everything's nice, but I'd like to see feature too specific for us to actually deploy it. Only then I'll give you 5 stars" (3/5)

The first comment is, in fact, the best, since it states he gives us 1 star for an error that appeared in the last version. Replies to these clients may not raise us their rating directly (less often than what's desirable), but they push the app to a better finished state.

The second one is one of the not-so-uncommon people that thinks 1 star is better than 5. Trying to ask them to raise the review ends in nothing, since they seem to find 1 star as a better prize than 5 stars.

The other two comments, as you see, are quite useless, as they don't give us a good review, but they don't give us any hint on how to proceed with this either, or the process is simply impossible to meet. We've tried to get sometimes kidnapped stars from these kind of people, and they tend to ask for more features that don't give a global better value for the app.

I've faced these two kind of clients before, and they don't tend to improve ratings afterwards. Sometimes, I've even seen how the rating decreased, since they re-rated it lower than before. Even telling them that the issues were only with version X.Y.Z, and if they downloaded the last version, any error would disappear, or that W feature was implemented in a newer version he could download.

How can one talk to poor reviewers, trying to ask for more explanations or better reviews?

  • I'd love to be pointed to a better SE place, indeed. However, since this and this made to the "safe zone" of questions, I thought that anything related to business and client relationship would also be included in this. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 13:23
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    Users who download your app from a public-access app store aren't exactly clients in that sense of the word.
    – jcm
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 13:24
  • @jcm, I was expecting that, since our app is our visible product, anyone downloading and using it would be our user and our client. To be fair, since the last Google policy update, they can even come to the company, as they know our phisical address. In fact, Google policy changes try to make users sound less like "far away users" and more like customers. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 13:27
  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about android software development, release, and reviews, and not about the Workplace.
    – Joe Strazzere
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 13:41
  • 2
    @Korcholis: As someone who was a chef I think you may be disappointed to find out that, no, you rarely if ever get to reply to reviews or encourage them to change. The two exceptions may be a few review sites online that allow a 'response' but, let's be honest, those public responses tend to be more funny(for onlookers) than useful or those that charge you to 'hide' poor reviews. Setting the popularity of a service or product based on it's public, nearly anonymous review rating is foolish.
    – Nahkki
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 14:15

3 Answers 3


What other feedback channels are you using?

In addition to App/Play Store reviews, you can solicit feedback in other ways.

  • Feedback options in the app
  • Through the company website
  • Subscriber emails (if you send them)
  • Social media
  • In the Play Store copy & release notes.

How are you currently soliciting feedback/reviews in the app?

Some people will leave a 1-star review merely for asking, or for doing so in an intrusive/annoying way. Look into those mechanisms too & see what can be improved.

On the app's "Settings" or "About" page include a "Feedback" section or internal rating system (be clear about its purpose - not shady). Provide contact info or a form they can submit, and be quick/responsive to legitimate feedback.

This provides alternatives for people with real complaints/questions instead of a negative review. Good customer service will leave them feeling like they're being listened to instead of yelling into nothingness, which should hopefully lead to improved reviews/loyalty.

Focus on what you can fix & be realistic

You have a 4+/5 rating - excellent, even considering that the rating system is sort of a mess. If the only criteria for releasing other apps is boosting this "already really good" rating to "pretty unrealistic" & there are no serious bugs in the poor reviews, then you're costing yourselves business & time.

You can't fix fake, incoherent, or unhelpful complaints. If most of the negative reviews are useless, then that's a pretty good sign they're not legit. Putting off other releases based solely on them doesn't strike me as a good decision.

If you've built your "main" app & pipeline in such a way that you can easily update the 33 "child" apps then put them all out there & fix what you're able to fix.

  • Thanks @mc01 for your comment. We currently follow the rate-comment dialog pattern, which helps us address some of the issues to the email instead of having a bad review. But there's still a lot of ragequitters that just swear without any single hint on what went wrong. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 9:34

I'm absolutely not going to answer your question. Which is a bit counter to the purpose of the site I know but hear me out...

The iPhone 5S, regardless of your personal feelings on the device, is pretty solid. Solid enough that they've made a sequel no less! The iPhone 5S has a 4.0 / 5 rating on Amazon. But that's not a direct comparison is it? The iPhone is hardware. So let's look at a couple of apps. The Official Facebook app has a 3 / 5 on the iTunes store and a 4 / 5 on the Google Play store. Take a moment away from your environment and look at the rating on the digital stores - the top free and paid apps in the Google Play Store are right around 4 / 5 with only a handful edging towards 4.5/5 or higher. Some of these top apps also give freebies if you rate them a 5 / 5 (just to muddy the waters a bit).

I'm not saying that aiming towards having a high customer satisfaction is a poor decision. I am saying that perfect should never be the enemy of good. I am also not saying that you should ignore or avoid reading, understanding and reaching out to customers and customer reviews. As you point out, one of your reviews was very helpful but the rest...

The rest are kruft. Any company that serves customers and has readily available reviews is going to recieve at least some amount of kruft. And, just like in school where one C could bring down your 4.0 GPA, even a small amount of kruft will ding your expectations. The reality is that there are no incentives to review apps(or services or goods) fairly. If you're in a competitive market you will receive poor reviews solely for being a competitor. If you give a harmonica away for free some folks will be unhappy that it's not a grand piano...

None of this above, or your question, has to do with 'workplace' honestly. Additionally as a consumer if companies start reaching out to me after a 4/5 or 3/5 review when I do not request someone reach out to me - that's creepy and a little gross. What you should be asking is how to better manage your boss's expectations. Not releasing new versions/code/products until you get a nearly unobtainable rating is foolish(How many perfects would you need at this point to move that rating up?) and should be a warning sign to you, a developer, of a potentially unhealthy workplace.

And the answer to "How to better manage your boss's expectations"? Data. Compile data of the most popular and profitable apps. Compile data about apps in your specific field. Show that over time it will become nearly impossible to raise your rating over a certain amount(and it's true as you get more reviews moving the overall trend of those reviews is going to be harder.) And propose better or more concrete and obtainable goals. "Units Sold", "Profit Generated", "Daily Downloads", "Average Usage" are great goals to start considering.

  • 1
    I cannot agree with this enough! Another point I might add is that if some of the lower ratings were due to bugs in previous version, that might be the data needed to suggest higher standards in quality assurance before the product is released. It is much easier (and more efficient) to change the product than to change people.
    – SheTeeples
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 14:39
  • I agree with you @Nahkki, and in fact, since today I am asked to give a weekly feedback on how our ratings are doing, so we can track if there's a true improvement in our raings, or not. The bad part of all this new task (and your suggestion of tracking others) is that we already do, and my boss is a little obstinate in having the highest rating of our niche (as already said, 4.65), which is pretty difficult to achieve at this point. By the way, we currently raised up to 4.38. It only took 2 weeks (heh) Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 9:32
  • @SheTeeples That's why I'm first asking the real issues of our clients, in fact. There's no point on changing an app to what clients tend to ask, if what clients tell is "I don't like it, 1 star". Sorry for sounding angry, but I actually enjoy feedback from users. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 9:38

On Android store you can reply to reviews, ask your question there.

Or open their g+ profile, befriend them, invite them to a weekend in a cabin in the woods and then .. ask them your question.

That's just as creepy as asking them after they rated you bad and deleted the app.

  • 3
    Telling a user the app is not glitchy anymore, or a bug that crashed her app is fixed and she can use it back again... well, is that creepy? The main goal is to keep your audience happy, and if I need to ask them what happened, well, I guess that's the correct choice. Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 8:09

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