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Release Day: Overview of New Dashboard and Conversations Features

Today is another exciting release day at Worldwide Apptentive HQ, and we’re pleased to announce two new features which have been requested by customers with increasing regularity. These features are being pushed live across all instances of our platform at every customer price tier – so enjoy the new flexibility that these offer you, if you are a customer!

1) Dynamic Date Ranges for App Health Reporting Dashboard

We often heard that our frequent Dashboard-using customers wanted the ability to modify applicable date ranges for their core App Health Dashboard, thereby refreshing the data powering all of the insight modules on the Dashboard. We recently pushed this live and invite our customers to try it out. You will be able to increase or decrease the applicable date range (from the previous 1-month, un-modifiable default) in the upper right header where the Dashboard Report dates are displayed. In so doing, the date range on Love Score chart module below updates to cover the entire date range selected… or at least back to the start of activation of our SDK and service in your relevant app(s).

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New Dashboard view, with new dynamic date range feature highlighted. With a Giant Red Arrow. Because we love Giant Red Arrows!

 

2) Conversation Search

For those customers with active customer conversations enabled by our Message Center platform module, we frequently heard feedback that our customers wanted the ability to query against their customer message submissions. We are pleased to share that this feature is now complete and live across all customer instances of the platform on the “Conversations” tab of our customer service management application.

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Conversation Search enables Apptentive customers to query the application user Conversation submissions and responses handled by our Message Center platform module.

As our platform improvements release schedule settles in to a regular rhythm here, we will always strive to use our blog as the ‘first / best’ location to learn about these new version releases and feature enhancements. Look for the “Product Release News” post Category as our way of identifying platform release updates in the future.

Warm regards from all of us at Apptentive – and as always, we welcome our customers’ feedback (and ideas) on product enhancements here in the Comments, via our GitHub page or StackOverflow, and of course via our direct feedback channels.

How-to-increase-app-success

How To Increase The Chances Of Your App’s Success

(This is a guest blog post by Tope Abayomi)

If there is one thing that all app developers should know now, it is that obtaining user feedback from your current customers is much more helpful than reading their negative comments in the app store reviews.

No one enjoys seeing his or her hard work be lambasted by people who cannot grasp the scope of its existence. Although it is disheartening, and ego deflating, it also turns the app into something of little service to others. Before someone downloads an app, there is a good chance that they are going to read the reviews first. If they download the app without bothering with another’s opinion and find it hard to use, they may even leave their own negative feedback. Countering this negativity is possible with the next version or damage control marketing measures, but ideally, the creator should want to avoid them to begin with. After all, this ominous circle of negativity can send an app into the black hole of App Stores everywhere, never to be seen again.

Get better ratings by avoiding negative reviews

Get better ratings by avoiding negative reviews

Instead of envisioning an app world of mayhem, developers everywhere are realizing that with a simple testing period of a minimum viable product, consumer test groups can provide feedback before the app launches. But why stop there? You should keep gathering feedback even while your app is live.

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product does not mean that it is less of a product than it will be in its finalized form. In the app world, it simply means that it has enough functionality to deploy its capabilities, but is not coded to complete operation.

Keep your v1.0 simple and iterate with feedback from the people using your app

Keep your v1.0 simple and iterate with feedback from the people using your app

This means you can open it, review its contents and show it off to others as a prototype, without spending an exhausting amount of time or money insuring its overall functionality through coding and programming. It allows you to gauge interest, excitement, feedback, and the overall need for your app, before you take it to the completion stage.

A minimum viable product is tested on a controlled group of people, whose comments and conclusions on its testing can be accounted for. This means you can let people know they are responsible for helping you create a better product together. That is the important word “together.” People love to be included in the creation of things. The idea is to find a forgiving audience, one who knows that this is only a beginning but could benefit from the final product’s existence.

Get Your Users To Help You Create The Best Product Possible

Think of it this way: If you give someone an app and say, “This app is going to do this in v1.0. Here it is in its most minimal functionality. Play with it.” When that introduction and testing period is followed up with surveys for the consumer to address, they can provide honest and accurate feedback.

Iterate with your app customers to build a better product

Iterate with your app customers to build a better product

This will deliver information regarding what they were expecting, and how the app lived up to those expectations. It can also tell the developer how great or how poor its performance ranked overall, which means they can take that information back to the drawing board and fine tune the application for v2.0.

How Surveys Insure a Better Minimum Viable Product

It is practically impossible to fund every idea that your genius mind creates, which means when it comes to getting app creation right the first time, surveys can be a key financial component to its success. Creating a minimum viable product allows you to display the app’s genius, without developing it completely. This means no more ill-advised turns in the wrong direction, which have to be fixed with a costly 2.0 programming option that may or not be entertained by the masses.

Better communication helps to create a better product

Better communication helps to create a better product


Surveys will provide you with all of the feedback you could possibly need to hone the app’s capabilities and smarten its aptitude. Certainly there will be answers like, “I wish it were blue” that have no bearing on its functionality, but you have to take the good information with the unrelated comments. It is all part of the process. Once the survey’s feedback has been adapted to the app, it becomes a better version of its previous existence. You are still at minimal financial output and can test it again on another audience, gathering their feedback as well.

What Intelligence can you get from Surveys and Feedback Forms?

There are a number of things you can determine with surveys and feedback forms. At the core of the forms’ content should be finding out exactly what features the people are interacting with during the test. What do they like about the app? What do they love about it? All of these things should definitely end up in the final version. What do they dislike or find confusing? Remove it, or fine tune it.

Knowing what the customers enjoy, and what they do not, can help you reduce negative feedback when the app goes to market. Once customers air their grievances, others will read it, and some of it is not transferable back to the developer, so all hope is lost for a solution.

Beat reviewers to the punch by providing them with what they are asking for through the use of surveys and feedback forms. If they happen to list items that simply are not available at the time, make notes from their requests, and adopt them to version 2.0 of the app. It is the least you can do to appease your fans.

Editors Note: This is a guest post from Tope Abayomi, Founder of App Design Vault. Some people may still prefer to come to your website to get in touch with you. If you need a landing page for your app, download a free one here.

Image sources: Sam Newsome, Ash Maurya








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Customer Love in App Store Reviews: An adjunct to Net Promoter® Score

There are many reasons an app developer would want to use metrics. But at their core, metrics are about answering simple questions:

  • Are we doing a good job?
  • Do people love our app?
  • How do we get better?

One of the premiere metrics of customer satisfaction is the Net Promoter® Score, that is, How likely is it that you would recommend X to a friend or colleague? on an scale from zero to ten. By subtracting the “detractors” who answer zero to six, from the promoters who answer nine or ten (the “positive passives” answering seven or eight are discarded), you get an effective measure of customer delight. It seems like a simple question, but there are reams of research to support the idea that this simple question is goldmine.

If you are able to implement such a metric, fantastic. Even if your business is selling and supporting mobile apps — where you don’t have a steady stream of walk-in or call-in customers of whom you can ask how likely they are to recommend your app — we can gather this information with in-app surveys, or by sending out an e-mail blast to paid subscribers. But in the app marketplace, we have moved beyond passive likelihood to recommend: people are actively recommending (or criticizing) apps in a public forum. What metrics, then, can you use to make day-to-day decisions about your app and your customers? For the mobile app business, I would suggest an adjunct to Net Promoter® Score. A question that can be crucial to an app’s long term success, and a metric you might be able to measure with data you already have: do people love our app?

In our work delivering customer insights and targeted messaging on mobile apps, Apptentive has found customer love to be a key indicator of a few things:

  • Customers who love your app are more likely to rate or review it in the app store.
  • Customers who love your app tend to give it higher ratings in the app store.
  • Customers who love your app are more likely to use the word “love” when they write a review in the app store.

Why are these things important? Because customers who love your app will be more engaged customers. Engaged customers use your app more frequently, and are more likely to purchase it across multiple platforms. And because research shows ratings and reviews are particularly important for things that are difficult for customers to evaluate prior to purchase. Higher ratings and better reviews mean more downloads.

One of the ways we measure customer love is with in-app feedback. In the app itself, ask the user, “Do you love [insert app name here]?” and measure the yes and no responses over time. And there is another way, using data you already have available: download the reviews from your iTunes Connect, Google Play, or other app store account, and count the percentage of reviews that use the word “love” in them. You might be surprised how many people are willing to say, I love this app, and what a powerful message that sends to other potential customers.

At Apptentive we are strong believers in empowering developers to listen and respond to users. If you are using an in-app feedback model, customer love is a great metric to see how well you are doing over time. And if you have not yet started to engage your customers directly, it is still a great time to start measuring customer love. It is one way to answer that question, “Are we doing a good job?” And once you start to listen to people and respond, you’ll also be able to answer the other question, “How do we get better.”

Ratings

Better ratings for your applications

Better Ratings

Begging for ratings is lame

It’s a commonly held belief that more good ratings and reviews will lead to more success for your app.  As a result, we see a lot of developers experimenting with ways to get ratings.

Ratings solicitation tactics
If you’ve ever engaged in one of the following, you know what we’re talking about:

  • Asked all of your friends to download and rate your app
  • Used your Twitter account to remind every follower that they should check out your app and rate it
  • Told every friend you have on Facebook to download your app and like the Facebook fan page you’ve made
  • Installed code in your app that prompts a user to rate based upon how many days the app has been installed

If you’ve been doing this, it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, you’re trying to grow your business. We understand why you’re doing it and we think you’re ahead of many developers who aren’t even thinking about how to help themselves out.

There is, however, a better way. Asking for ratings needs to be about YOUR APP CUSTOMER.

Stop yourself and think about the rating process in this way:

How can you make your customers’ lives better by asking them to rate you?

This is a challenging question for some developers. Fortunately, we’re learning about this every day with our customers and we’ve discovered a few principles you might find helpful in thinking about ratings, reviews and the overall customer experience:

Ask a simple question: how many people love my app?

Remember: the surest way to better ratings is to have a better app FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS. It’s that simple.

Apple share of PC market trend chart - Apple's 11%

“Only” 1 in 10 PC buyers is getting an Apple device. Seemed to work out fine for them

Your app doesn’t have to make the entire world like it. It just has to have a rabid and loyal fan base.

Like Apple.

Got it?

Start with that goal in mind and work backwards from it.

You have limited time. Learn FAST.

A lot of our customers have fewer than 10 people working on an app.  Not a lot of resources. Which features do you prioritize? Which bugs are the most important?

One of the reasons we’re big believers in the Lean Startup movement is that it’s designed for organizations with resource constraints. A major benefit of the approach is to reduce waste by reducing the number of useless features you build as you discover your market’s needs. The more your product benefits from what you learn on a daily basis, the more likely you are to be efficient in its creation.

Ratings and reviews are prime opportunities for you to learn. Here are ways in which you can utilize ratings/reviews and customer feedback as learning tools:

  • The comments from ratings and reviews can inform your view of what users care about
  • The velocity of your ratings, that is, the number of ratings you get per day or per week can inform you about changes in customer perception. Are you suddenly seeing a lot more ratings and reviews? Did you make a change to your app that creates a reason for people to be more active in giving feedback?
  • The score – the actual values that people are giving you. This is an obvious one isn’t it? Most people just focus on the overall rating, however, instead of analyzing how it changes over time and monitoring significant shifts in the trends.
  • What is it that makes people unhappy when using your app? What can you learn from the critiques and complaints you receive? Are there customers who just don’t make sense for you?
  • What is it that people LOVE about your app? This is the most important thing you can learn from your ratings – what is it that delights people and what kind of people are delighted by your app?

When you look at ratings and reviews, think about what they’re truly about: giving customers a voice. Your goal should be to build upon that, giving them a voice so that you can learn from their feedback and make your app better.

So, how do you do that?

Ask simply…

App Ratings Done Right: Asking Your Users' Opinions

Who loves you? Find out how you’re REALLY doing.

People often overlook the importance of asking nicely. Pay attention to when and how you ask for information. Pay attention to what you’re really asking for as well. What are you trying to discern from your app customers?

We think it’s fundamentally about love. If you can earn a customer’s love, you’re on to something. You’re probably on their home screen, they use you daily, and they actively recommend you to their friends (usually by demoing your app in-person).

It turns out that asking a simple question gets honest feedback, constructive criticism and yes, more customers who truly love you. (We’re happy to share our app ratings component with all of you for free, by the way)

When you ask this simple question you inform your customers that you care about their feelings and needs, while respecting their time. By giving your customers permission to answer no, you communicate that the question is really about THEM, not about you. This is a huge departure from the traditional tactics we’ve highlighted above, which are really not about your customer’s needs. Consumers are smart and they can tell when they’re being asked to do something just for you.

When you’re asking customers to share their opinion, you’re also setting the expectation that you’ll be listening. That’s a huge gap in the current behaviors we see by developers who are asking for ratings. In today’s incredibly connected environment, customers expect to be heard and responded to. So, give yourself that capability (or use us to be able to respond to consumers quickly and directly).

…and respond nicely!

Responding to consumers who are expressing frustration is often all that’s required to soothe the frustration. Instead of being incapable of following up with the person having the problem, you can actually get in touch with them and possibly debug your code together.

While many developers think that people just want to vent and complain, we find that most people appreciate the knowledge that something is actually being done about their problem. Negative ratings and reviews are not about publicly badmouthing an app so much as achieving consumer catharsis. By establishing a direct line of communication with your app customers and reducing the friction required to speak up,  the person with a problem is far more likely to talk WITH YOU.

While being willing to listen is great, true consumer happiness comes when you respond. Just the act of responding nicely provides catharsis to your customers, delighting them at a time when most consumers are left alone.

You don’t have to tell customers that you’ll solve their problems (sometimes you just can’t) but by being honest, polite and apologetic you’ll ensure that they realize you are a real person who actually cares about the time they’ve invested in your product. That is not an impression most of those consumers will ever forget.

Plan for the long-term & respect your customers

Ultimately, we’re here to help you build a business that lasts. We understand that many of you feel similarly to Arash Payan, who created Appirater due to his frustrations around the behavior exhibited by consumers in the existing ratings and review model. As he wrote on his blog:

“In comparison to the unhappy user, the satisfied user rarely takes the time to review your app. Which leaves you with crummy reviews from uninformed users hurting sales of your app.

If Apple would allow developers to respond to reviews, or more easily challenge the validity of a review, this would be no big deal. But I don’t have any hopes of Apple wising up and fixing anything, so I’m left trying to get more positive reviews of my apps to drown out the negatives ones.”

Those frustrations are very real, but it doesn’t mean that you should settle for solutions that don’t get to the heart of your customers’ needs.

The app world is more competitive every day and the only way to consistently win is to have a core base of users who absolutely love you. Those folks will keep you on their home screen, applaud your updates and eagerly give you feedback, if you make it easy. They will tell their friends about you, they will pay attention when you release new apps and some of them will help you build the best apps you can possibly make. So, aim for winning more of those customers and keep their needs in mind.

Remember: if you’re trying to get ratings just to get more ratings, you’re doing it wrong.








Your app, your code

You spend a lot of time working on your applications and making something that you think is good enough to share don’t you? Don’t you deserve services that embrace and support all of your hard work and attention to detail?

At Apptentive, we think that supporting you in this way is really important and we try to focus on some key principles. One of them is, “Your App, Your Code”.

This principle is really important to us because it focuses us on the fact that we consider ourselves lucky to be included in your app. You’re focused on making the best app possible. We want to get out of your way and are focused on building services that ensure that you have more time for your app while being in touch with your consumers. At the heart of this principle are a few hypotheses:

  1. User experience and design are table stakes for consumer software
  2. How we build tools shouldn’t limit your ability to make every piece of your app reflect your core vision and design.
  3. Your ability to understand our feedback API and reference modules greatly increases your ability to customize them & adhere to your vision.

We’re not the only ones who need to remember this

With the new distribution models for applications, every developer has a potential audience of millions. This is exciting isn’t it?

It also means a new level of responsibility for the application developer. The days of building a product to specifications, releasing it and saying derisively, “that’s a feature, not a bug” are OVER. Today, consumers can try your application in 2 minutes, decide that they don’t like it and be gone, forever.

The most important thing about “Your App, Your Code” is that you believe it and take it to heart. As an app developer, being very serious about owning every aspect of the customer experience is the kind of devotion that makes the difference between a hobby and a career. The developers we talk to who are running their own app businesses are absolutely obsessed with quality consumer experiences. If you’re not constantly thinking about how to make your app better, you’re falling behind: you can be sure that your competitors are pushing themselves.

Your app is yours and your code is yours, but once you release the app into the wild, it belongs to you and your consumers. 

Fortunately, involving your consumers has never been easier

In today’s world, consumers increasingly expect to be involved. Some of the larger companies out there have found this out the hard way. In our hyper-connected digital world, consumers can talk about problems they’re having on their blog, to their Twitter followers, to their Facebook friends, over IM, via text, email, and any other way that they choose.

If a consumer’s upset or frustrated and has no good outlet for their frustration, you can be sure that they’re going to find an outlet somewhere else. Wouldn’t you rather be able to be the person they can vent to? It’s your app. It’s your code. Why don’t you make that code work for you AND the consumer in order to make apps that get better with time?

We’ve built a feedback system for your apps because we want to help you get closer to the consumer experience by talking with the people using your apps and to ensure that you’re giving them an outlet for their opinions. Instead of ignoring them and hoping that they like what you’ve built and will say positive things, we suggest that you actively seek them out for feedback and conversations.