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Thanks for reaching out! While you wait for confirmation from an Apptentive team member, you may find these free resources to be of interest:

Guide

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Guide

The Five Stages of Reducing Mobile Customer Churn

Retention is a top priority for mobile marketers. Our new five-step framework is here to help you improve your existing strategy.

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Guide

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Guide

2020 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report

Apptentive’s annual mobile app engagement benchmark report serves as a baseline to help app publishers across categories understand their app’s engagement strengths and areas for improvement.

Download Now

App Feedback, Your Biggest Missed Opportunity

Alex Walz  //  July 14, 2016  //  6 min read

Whether it’s a push notification to encourage fans to download your app’s latest update or a paid advertisement to re-engage churned customers, branded communication is an integral component to an app’s success. App publishers have dozens of ways to communicate with their customers and deliver their messages. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of their customers.

By and large, an app’s customers have no way of communicating with the app’s publishers as customer communication is typically one-way: business to consumer. Customers are left with no avenue to voice suggestions, ask questions, or get help.

Of course, publishers aren’t exactly raising floodgates to keep out app feedback, and may even be encouraging feedback. Currently, publishers promote two channels for feedback:

  • App store ratings and reviews, organic or requested with a rating prompt or in-app CTA
  • Email, with a re-direct link or plug found in the app’s navigation or app store product page

These two channels package feedback nicely for publishers, bringing all communication to one, easily manageable channel. They can integrate incoming email with their CRM of choice and automatically filter reviews using any modern App Store Optimization tool.

For customers, however, these two channels are neither convenient nor conducive to their experience. Both channels require leaving the app, launching an app store or email client, and describing the query at hand using an obnoxiously small keyboard.

To make matters worse, neither channel offers much in the form of a response. The publisher might respond to your email, but by the time it finally comes, the issue will no longer top-of-mind—especially as you’ve already been forced to leave the app. With an app store review, you may get a response in Google Play if you’re an Android user; publishers can respond directly to reviews, but few take the time to give anything more than a templated response. And if you’re on iOS, you might as well forget it as publishers have no way of responding to customers through the App Store.

At the end of the day, many customers feel that providing feedback is simply too time-consuming, too annoying, and too much of a hassle. It’s much easier for them to simply uninstall your app and move on to the next alternative.

Unless they’re given another way to share their thoughts, of course.

Why publishers don’t do more to encourage app feedback

From the lens of the customer, app publishers are largely unapproachable. Whatever feedback that manages to make it past their floodgates will simply enter a black hole of unsolicited requests.

For publishers, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Publishers understand the value of app feedback and genuinely want to provide a superior customer experience. They believe they are doing everything they can to solicit feedback and proactively encourage customers to shoot them an email or leave a review. However, what many fail to understand is that these channels (email and reviews) don’t resonate with their customers or their mobile lifestyles.

What we’re left with is a perception gap. Publishers think they’re making themselves accessible, but customers disagree.

Later on, we’ll highlight a few ways you, as a publisher, can close this gap and encourage app feedback. But first, let’s take a look into why this gap needs to be closed and the benefits two-way customer communication has on your customer experience, revenue, and product.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.06.58 PM

How many customers perceive brands deal with feedback.

How app feedback benefits customers

When customers feel their feedback is both welcomed and valued, they report higher satisfaction and a greater affinity for your brand. According to a recent survey we conducted with app users across the United States, we found some pretty astonishing correlations between feedback and an improved customer experience:

  • 87.8% of those who have had a company respond to their feedback report being more likely to do business with that brand.
  • 89.2% who have had a company address and resolve a complaint indicate being left with a more positive view of the brand as a whole.

A lack of investment in gathering in-app feedback is a red flag to customers that the entire customer experience is lacking, which may deter them from becoming loyal to your brand.

How app feedback benefits revenue and product

Happy customers mean happy publishers. When customers feel heard, engaged, and valued, their satisfaction grows. And when customers are satisfied, the rest of the metrics follow suit. Satisfied customers are more likely to stick around (increased retention), likelier to use your app more (increased usage and ad revenue), more willing to pay for in-app purchases (increased revenue), and more apt to share your app (increased referrals).

And all of this means a healthier bottom line.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.09.46 PM

Beyond its ability to aid in customer support, app feedback has a number of other benefits, chief among which is data. Whether it’s qualitative or quantitative, app feedback consists of actionable data on the wants, needs, and preferences of your audience. These, in turn, can be leveraged to guide app’s next update and prioritize features and bug fixes based on customer demand.

To see what we mean in action, check out this case study to learn how a global company (and Apptentive customer) used real-time customer feedback to guide its product roadmap, improve its app and mobile customer experience, and prioritize features, backlogs, and bugs to grow retention: http://bit.ly/feedbackcasestudy

Tearing down the fourth wall

So how do you encourage app feedback and build a better, more profitable, and customer-first app? By showing customers their feedback is welcomed and valued.

At Apptentive, we’ve found that this is best accomplished with a four-step process:

1. Build a feedback loop, in-app.

As we saw above, app store reviews and customer support emails (two traditional feedback channels) are not conducive to the mobile experience. By requiring customers to leave your app to share feedback, you’re setting up a barrier to communication and increasing your risk of that customer never coming back to your app.

Instead, effective feedback loops should be designed within the app itself. They should be a frictionless part of the customer experience and designed in a way that resonates with the needs of a mobile customer: quick, non-intrusive, and optimized for mobile screens.

To see this optimization in action, consider how you prefer to communication on mobile. If you’re anything like me, you prefer texting to calling. You don’t like to write out long responses on a mobile device and prefer to answer in short-hand. You use your phone for work and productivity, and you expect any requests on your time, such as survey requests, to be cognizant of your time.

The result is a mobile-optimized feedback loop, a communication channel specifically designed with your mobile customer in mind. These channels (often manifesting in feedback forms, in-app surveys, and two-way messaging) can be built into any app or effortlessly integrated with a mobile communications tool like Apptentive.

2. Be proactive.

Once you have a feedback loop, you need to make sure customers know it exists. Solicit feedback proactively by messaging your app’s customers at opportune time, or at the right mobile moment, with a message showing you care about their experience and opinions.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.12.29 PM

An Apptentive-powered prompt proactively solicits customer feedback by redirecting negative and positive feedback to the most appropriate communication channels.

Even if the customer does not currently have feedback, prompting keeps your internal feedback loop top-of-mind with customers. That way, the next time they do have an issue with your app, they’ll remember that they can communicate those issues directly with your team—rather than the route of impersonal and indirect app store reviews.

3. Respond to customer feedback.

Once a customer does provide feedback, let them know that it’s valued.

Customers should know that their feedback isn’t go into a black hole. Take the time to respond to each customer who leaves feedback. Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, recognize it for what it is—a gift—and give thanks. If the app feedback contains a suggestion or bug report, let the customer know where this issue stands in your roadmap. And once that issue has been fixed or that suggestion has been implemented, reach back out to inform the customer of the impact their feedback made.

4. Act on feedback.

Finally, use your app’s feedback to continually improve your product. Customer feedback provides publishers with pre-validated ideas to fix or improve their apps. These insights should inform your product roadmap and rally your development team around a single point: The customer.

Time to start communicating

Now that you’ve learned the importance of collecting in-app feedback, it’s time to start communicating with your customers where they already are: in your app. There are plenty of places to start, but no matter where you begin, we recommend thinking about your goals and how you can better engage and listen to your mobile customers.

We also invite you to try out our own customer communication tools informed by the lessons we’ve learned from five years of helping some of the world’s best brands collect actionable customer insights. Learn more here or request a demo today!

About Alex Walz

Apptentive's resident wordsmith, Alex can frequently be found cranking away at eBooks or scrawling down ideas late into the night from a local coffee shop. He's an avid traveler, coffee connoisseur, and tech enthusiast, and he shares his thoughts on each over Twitter.
View all posts by Alex Walz >

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