All over the news lately is the new release of the ability for Windows Phone developers to respond to user reviews via the dev center, something of which any developer can immediately see the value.
Here’s a good example of why:
A user posts a review that confuses me as a dev in a sea of 5-star reviews. Why is he not able to get it to work, but everybody else loves it? Previously, there was just no way to find out. Now, however, you can see I’ve responded to work with this user and get to the bottom of things. In turn, he took his 3-star review, bumped it to a 4-star and updated to let people know I was working with him. A GREAT thing for potential users to see when “shopping.”
And this is my best success story:
This user’s review was initially 3-stars with no feedback. I asked the question of him and he responded via e-mail that he wanted the ability to do background uploading and multiple videos. When I let him know that the 2.0 version does both those things, he evaluated and updated his review to a 5-star. This is exactly why us developers wanted this ability!
”So… what’s the ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’ here then, B?”
I’ll tell you.
The bad part about this is you can only respond to reviews from people who are using the United States Windows Phone store while shopping, or users running WP 8.1:
Come across a review of your app where users haven’t use the US store and aren’t running WP 8.1, and you see the familiar:
… no way to respond. Bummer. But as users transition to 8.1 this will become fewer and farther between, so it will get better in this way.
The ugly is this:
Apparently, some user didn’t like that I responded to his review. So he/she went and reported me. I have a feeling this might not be the only time this happens to somebody; users have become used to and (in some cases) revel in the fact that they are virtually “anonymous” when reviewing apps – free to leave harsh or harmful feedback with little-to-no substance and get away with it. But on WP now the developer can contact them and ask “Hey how can i help?” and they get to face the music, so-to-speak. My only thought is that some user thought I hacked the store to obtain his/her address since he/she is used to leaving feedback anonymously, and reported me for it.
For proof that I’ve only been well-meaning, I’m going to post screenshots of every response I have ever given a user review up to this point. To date I have responded to this e-mail, tweeted @wpdev and @cliffsimpkins (WP program manager) and not received clarity on what was done wrong. From the link in that e-mail, here are the TWO guidelines for responding to user reviews:
And for my justification, here is every response I’ve posted to a user review thus far across all apps in my dev center (since I have zero clue as to which response, what app, or what review was reported) from before the time/date I received this e-mail from Microsoft:
You might be wondering why some of the responses have an ‘Update’ link next to them. This is a feature, though I’ve not found a use for it, of the new system. If a user adjusts their review after you respond to it, you can update your response to their new review. So you’ll see on some of those, the “new” review is 5-star – another shining (ha. pun intended) example of how this system is great for developers – so I can update my feedback for that user should I choose to do so. I kind of which it would keep a record of their preview review(s) though so I can have some context as to my initial response. Perhaps a future implementation.
At any rate I’m sure you can see that none of my responses were advertisements or profane in any way. That being said, I did ask my users that gave < 5 stars for a bit of feedback as to what could be done to get a 5-star review from them. A fair ask in my opinion; if you’re not going to provide *real* feedback on the app, and aren’t going to give it 5 stars, then I think the developer is within his rights to ask you “hey man, what’s up with no 5 stars?” in an effort to improve his app!