With the release of iOS 10.3 Apple has also added functionality to iTunes Connect to let you respond to reviews. What’s really cool about this: Apple will send your reply as email to the user’s AppleID!
I had to immediately go and try to respond to a feedback I had left on my own app, prod.ly. So I went into My Apps – prod.ly – Activity tab – Ratings and Reviews. And there I clicked on the new and blue reply icon on the right hand side.
There appears to be some sort of review or checking process as the developer response is not visible right away. So I left it at that.
One day later I got mail…
What a pleasant surprise! It’s not that I like to have positive conversations with myself. My delight stems from being able to try to win back dissatisfied customers by having Apple mail them on your behalf!
This is extraordinarily powerful! If you take the time and tell each concrete feedback why you now deserve 5 stars instead of 1, you might dramatically increase your reputation and app rating. As you can see in the email, the user is asked
Do you want to update your review?
When you reply to a customer review, the customer will be notified of your response and will have the option to update their review. All users with the Legal, Admin, App Manager, or Marketer role that have access to the app will receive a notification if a customer that you responded to changes their review. Your response will remain publicly visible regardless of edits made by the customer to their own review, unless you choose to edit or delete your response in iTunes Connect. You can edit your response at any time and only one response per review will display on your App Store product page.
So, if the user indeed amends their – probably long forgotten – review your response might become outdated. But Apple lets you delete or edit your response as well, once you receive notification that the user reacted. That’s great, because otherwise you might end up with a comical scenario where your response does not seem to have any connection with the review it is a reply to.
In 10.3 we find a new way to ask for reviews in apps, a way that is way less obtrusive than the nag screens that we have learned to hate. This new ratings view cannot be shown more than 3 times per year. Since it no longer takes us out of the app, we might be more inclined to actually use it to respond with a few words.
From now on, we developers will also be measured on the quality of our public responses. Possibly forcing us to hire a community manager who will do the user interactions on our behalf, if we don’t have the time or interest in doing so ourselves.
Either way, Apple finally – who have been hawkishly protecting the user’s (e-mail) identity – now allow us to e-mail them our response, albeit indirectly. This is a great opportunity to try to win back users by being able to tell them about new releases (which hopefully fix their issues).
Also published on Medium.