With the release of iOS 10.3, developers now have the ability to respond to reviews left on the App Store. This is a fantastic, long-overdue, tool to resolve customer problems, or at least communicate that you’re aware of their problem and are working on it. For engaged developers, this has the potential to significantly reduce the number of one-star reviews tainting your app.
Apple’s documentation on the process is a little patchy, so I’ve endeavoured to document the whole process.
How do developers reply to reviews?
In iTunes Connect, you’ll need to navigate to the app then the Activity tab, then select Ratings and Reviews.
You’ll now see a “Reply” button off to the right of each review. It looks like this in iTunes Connect:
Press Reply to get a dialog where you can type your response. You get a weird 5870 characters to craft your response.
You can only reply once. The user cannot respond to your reply (you’re not starting a thread) but you can edit your reply, and the user can edit their review.
Your reply will remain Pending for some time – in my experience, just on 12 hours – before it appears on your App’s Reviews page.
Unfortunately, that’s it though. I did not receive a notification when the developer response was posted.
It seems that the only way a user can know that you’ve responded is if they go back to the review page. While this article claims users do get a notification, they clearly don’t. [rdar://31339997]
[Update] I eventually (36 hours later) received an email telling me the developer had replied. The email contained two helpful links:
- a link that took me directly to a page where I could update my review (though this is an iPad app, opening the link on my iPhone failed. You also can’t edit the review on a desktop computer)
- a link to our support page (which already exists on the App’s page, but is more prominent here). Maybe we could advise users to follow the link to “Contact The Developer” in the email?
I think there are some things that need to be improved, in order for this new feature to gain wide adoption:
- Developers need a page where they can see reviews for all their apps. This would allow us (or our customer support colleagues) to respond to reviews in a more efficient fashion [rdar://31339284]
- Developers should be able to read and respond to reviews in the iTunes Connect app on iOS. [rdar://31339379]
- Reviews (and replies) should appear as close to real time as possible. [rdar://31339531]
- Customers should receive a push notification when a reply to their review is published. [rdar://31339997]