Handling Negative App Review

How To Handle Negative App User Reviews

After all of your hard work to push app rankings, applying app marketing strategies, and doing hour-long app store optimization you see a very disappointing app user review.

Almost all mobile developers hate getting negative app user reviews. It destroys your app’s reputation, app’s on-page ASO and it just looks awful. But if we only look it on a different aspect and perspective, we might a see the silver lining. So before you guys throw stuff because of negative user reviews, here are some tips how to handle them:

#1 Appreciate Every App Review

appreciate app marketing boost

Positive feedbacks and comments are the sweetest thing we can get as app publishers or developers but treat every feedback either a compliment or as a complaint about your app as a sign of care. On this way, you will see things very different.

Imagine ten people downloaded your app. Somehow, they all unlike it and it feels like there is something wrong with your app.

Nine of your new app user you just disappointed will typically uninstall your app, and that’s it. And there is this one man who rants and comment about your app; he could just simply uninstall your app like the others did. Although it gave you a bad rating and review, he stood his side and opinion to improve your app.

As the old saying goes, “Nine out of then unhappy customers never say a word, they just never come back.”

#2 Reply To Every Feedback No Matter What

Replying On Every App Reviews

Either it is a positive or negative app user review, spare them some time and reply to their feedback. It shows your sign of activity, builds your app authority, credibility, and trustworthiness.

Yes, it may be time-consuming or whatsoever but replying on every feedback whether it’s a compliment or criticism gives a message to your potential app users, it can also encourage people to download your app and boost your click-through-rate that affects off-page ASO and also improves your on-page app store optimization.

It Encourages Other People

Yup, it also helps other people to leave their rating and review when seeing an active feedback section where you have active app users who leave reviews and you replying on them.

An active review section will leave your potential app users an impression of great customer support, after-sales support, and excellent customer/user relation.

This may also backfire, though. Remember the old saying? Nine out of ten? It may become one out of ten as you encourage more people to leave a review. But you shouldn’t have to worry about this if you have a decent app.

Identify The Trolls

Learn to identify trolls and spammers. You shouldn’t waste precious time with them, but as I was suggesting earlier, it is always better for you to reply to every comment as it is always a sign of excellent customer and after sales support. A simple copy-pasted response is acceptable enough for such reviews.

#3 Listen And Analyze

You don’t need to have a crafty word to communicate to your app users all the time; sometimes you just need to hear and coincidentally, listening is one of the best ways to communicate.

When handling negative app user reviews, remember always to listen and carefully understand what they are ranting about or why they are not satisfied with your app. It doesn’t mean that you always have to apologize for the comment they just gave in and just accept their negativity.

Understand What Your App User Needs

Know what they want to say.

This is what I like about negative app ratings and reviews. There is an encrypted message behind every negative review that you can use to your advantage to improve your app.

After hearing them out, understand what they need. Try to understand every negative app review and what criticism, suggestion, or ideas you can use to improve your app. Whether the ads are too much, about the bugs, lacks functionality or any other reason that makes your app users upset.

Listen and communicate with them.

#4 Translate Reviews In Different Language

App Review In Different Language

When the user reviews are in another language, don’t just skipped them out. Translate and reach them out.

Depending on your app marketing strategy, some of us might be targeting individual countries. Feedback on different language is hard to listen at the first place and the natural tendency to just ignore them.

I strongly advise not to use translator or software to translate words. As foreign languages have different sentence structures and software like this are struggling when it comes to slang.

Google Translate may also help you to have a glimpse of what your local app user review means. You may use Google Translate for translating one or two sentences of user reviews but never rely on it.

I would rather not reply to that negative feedback instead of relying on Google Translate.

This is one of the examples of why Google Translate sucks. This example is from Digital Trends: How Accurate Is Google Translate, Really? While it doesn’t fully justify the capabilities of Google Translate, this is just an example how Google Translate isn’t always giving consistent results.

Original Article:

Elaine Stritch is leaving New York.

That is not last month’s news, it is simply her agenda for this early spring day: a trip to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, where she is to sit on a stage and chat about her career, first as a Broadway scene-stealer, more recently as a cabaret regular and a guest star on sitcoms like “30 Rock.”

It is only 10:30 a.m., and already there is trouble. The limousine service sent a sport utility vehicle to the Carlyle Hotel, where she lives. She had it sent back.

French Translated By Expert:

Elaine Stitch quitte New York.

Ce n’est pas une nouvelle du mois dernier, c’est simplement son agenda pour ce jour de printemps : une excursion au Centre des Arts de Spectacle de Newark, où elle va se retrouver sur scène pour parler de sa carrière, d’abord comme une vedette de Broadway et plus récemment, comme habituée de cabaret et invitée des séries comme « 30 Rock ».

Il n’est que 10h30 et il y a déjà un problème. La compagnie de limousines avait envoyé un quatre-quatre chez elle, à l’Hôtel Carlyle. Elle l’a renvoyé.

French Translated By Google Translate:

Elaine Stritch quitte New York.

Ce n’est pas les nouvelles du mois dernier, il est tout simplement son ordre du jour pour cette journée de printemps précoce: un voyage dans le New Jersey Performing Arts Center à Newark, où elle est de s’asseoir sur une scène et de discuter de sa carrière, d’abord comme Broadway scène stealer, plus récemment, un cabaret régulière et une guest star sur sitcoms comme “30 Rock”.

Ce n’est que 10h30, et déjà il ya des problèmes. Le service de limousine envoyé un véhicule utilitaire sport à l’Hôtel Carlyle, où elle vit. Elle l’avait renvoyé.

#5 Don’t Get Defensive

When getting criticized, our most common instinct is to defend ourselves or in our case is to protect our app.

Being defensive is when we start to become linear instead of analyzing the negative app user feedback in customer’s point of view. Rather than listening, understanding and examining with an open mind, we get defensive and respond with our metaphorical barriers and weapon ready to answer and fight back.

In the case of app user reviews or the digital world in general, for me, there is no reason to become defensive for criticism. Sometimes they happen to be right or honest, and we just have a hard time to admit it.

#6 Learn When To Apologize

App Review Apologizing

When To Apologize?

Many mobile developers are instantly apologizing in every negative feedback. That’s a classic move right there. But is it right? Is it good for your app?

Here are two of my favorite interesting articles which you should read to help you in this case. The first is this article titled: “3 Reasons Why Apologizing Hurts Your Business” from Entrepreneur.com. The author, Gene Marks clearly stated that shouldn’t be always apologizing and learn how to keep apologies to the minimum. Here are the highlights of the said article:

  1. Apologies change the dynamics of the relationships with your clients
  2. Apologies are often empty and irrelevant
  3. Apologies open the door for more costs

The second article is from Forbes.com titled: “Courageous Leaders Don’t Make Excuses…They Apologize” by Erika Andersen. If you’ve read the whole article, it will teach you how to be courageous, saying sorry personally, and how to stay in a first person.

My Personal Take

Personally, I think it’s not that hard to decide when to apologize.  Although it hurts your app reputation for a little bit but me, apologizing in public is a sign of good business. You can compensate them if you want and if you need to but don’t do it in review section directly to avoid any future complications. I would say it’s one of the gateways to take the customer relationship further.

#7 Don’t Deny Mistakes

I think for all the tips listed here in this article, this one of the most important tips you should consider.

If your app has some problems or errors in it, don’t hide it. It’s normal for humans to make mistakes. This happens even in every type of business; things get fucked up. First recognize the complaint, apologize publicly and then take the conversation off the social media page to resolve the issue.

#8 Resolve The Issue Immediately

When a negative review is fixable without tweaking your app, do it right away.

Some problems like microtransaction or purchasing errors are significant errors that can be fixed right away. App errors like this should be resolved as fast as you can as this will upset your app users and might report and file a dispute which will destroy your app’s reputation.

#9 Ask For Time

In some cases, we can’t and requires time and some fixing in your source codes.

Asking for a time as early as you can is a great strategy to avoid more negative vibe on your user review section. It might prevent more negative user reviews as users already saw your action to recent app reviews.

You can easily tell them that you are currently looking at the same problem and expect it to be fixed in next and upcoming updates. Responding to their reviews gives them a feeling of assurance. I’m not saying that you should “trick” every app users who leave a negative review but be sure to fix the problem in the next updates.

#10 Fix The Problem In Your App

The next move will be obvious. Of course, take action and fix the problem immediately as soon as you can.

Once you’ve detected the problems and errors in you source code, quickly respond with an update to ensure the quality of your app. Make it better and cleaner to improve your user experience. Even small particular fix update will work primarily with Google Play Store changing Delta algorithm that helps developers shrink their app updates. If you want to learn more about the latest Delta algorithm, visit the official Android Developer Blog here: Improvements for smaller app downloads on Google Play.

#11 Take The Relationship Further

One of the silver lining with negative comments are you already have contact with them. Aside from that, users who engaged with negative experience are more forgiving compared to who don’t leave app reviews.

You can take the relation further much easier as you already send and replied few emails with your app users and possibly you already know their names. You can make the relationship further much easier as you already post and answered few emails with your app users and probably you already are aware of their names.

Taking your relationship to the next level is one of the classic ways to acquire new loyal users. Loyal users are also vital in app business as they can be your ambassador to help you promote your app. More loyal users naturally result in better and stronger app retention.

Here is a boring a story of mine:

I am hunting for a decent coffee shop near our place (you already know I’m a coffee lover if you have read my hideous About Page). BTW, I’m from The Philippines, and yes we do have Starbucks, J.Co, and other international brands here, but I’m looking for our very own local coffee beans called Barako.

Finally, I found two coffee shops, who both serves my kind of coffee. So I tested the two first which have a better blend, I said I want it to have a creamier taste. The first one is decent to common type; then I tried the other shop. The barista from the second shop said that they couldn’t customize the blend, and I was like what the fuck? Luckily, one of the co-owners is present, and he made my coffee himself. He apologizes and our conversation is so mild and friendly. From that morning, I’m their loyal customer.

#12 Learn From It

Steve Job On App Marketing Mistakes

I  know, it’s a bit of cliché and cheesy to end this list but I think mistakes and experience are the best learning tools (and sorry for the Steve Jobs Quote). Everyone makes mistakes, and that’s it, but you shouldn’t just accept it. Mistakes in any other business is a great stepping stone to achieve success.

Mistakes are a great opportunity to acquire new knowledge and techniques, so be sure to absorb and grasp every mistake you made and avoided doing it again in your app. Just like a famous saying that goes: “Those who don’t study and learn from history are bound to repeat it.”


Negative user reviews or all negative comment, in general, are not always wrong. Yeah, they sound atrocious because they are honest, they tell you the truth about your app. Don’t be afraid to face your mistakes, as I said earlier; an apology can be your first aid to negative reviews. No matter what you’ve done, bear in mind that mistakes are stepping stones of great men.

I don’t want to sound like a preacher, but when I read it, it looks I’m a preacher here.

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