5 ways to turn your mobile app’s haters into evangelists


Some app reviews are real downers

Some days are better than others

Ever sit down to your morning cup of coffee, open up the app store, surf to your app and come across a fresh 1 star rating with a 3 line rant about your app?

Your stomach sinks, you shake your head and you wonder if you’re doing it all wrong…  Rest assured, you’re not alone.

The negative comments are going to come

If you’ve never had a negative comment or someone critique what you’re making, it probably means that no one has seen what you’re working on. Given the choice, most of us would rather have some audience for the things that we build rather than none at all.

If you’re in the app business, though, it’s particularly important. With over 1 million apps in the iTunes App Store alone, you’re either building an audience or dying on the vine.

Negative sentiment is temporary, if you recognize it as such

Today’s consumer expects to be able to share their opinion publicly about any experience they have. Happy customers are much less likely to share their opinions than frustrated ones. People who have a complaint want to be heard and vent – they have something driving them to speak up. The driver is this:

They actually care about what you’re working on.   

Your takeaway should be that every complaint represents a person who cares about your app and that by raising their hand, they’ve presented you with an opportunity to impress them. They’re giving you the chance to improve their experience. If you’re like our customers and you’ve got the ability to respond, your job is that much easier.

The developers we work with are finding myriad ways to turn customers who were initially complaining about their app into evangelist through the simple act of listening and responding.

Here are 5 ways to create evangelists our of your vocal critics

  1. Avoid getting defensive
    Is your goal to make the best app possible? If so, take negative feedback constructively. Most people are afraid that negative feedback could ruin their company’s image so they rail against it, fighting it as if they could convince a frustrated consumer to see the error in their feelings.What this really says to your customer is, “I don’t care about your problems or making my product better, I just want to hear good things.”

    Differentiate yourself by responding with an open-minded and collaborative approach. Having a discussion with an upset customer lets them know that even if something goes wrong or there is something that they don’t like about your app, you’re not going to fight with them about their opinion.
  2. Be objective and fair when you evaluate complaints
    When customers have a gripe, they are sharing their experience. It’s important to set your ego aside and understand that the complaint is about how they experienced your app. Can you be objective and hear them describe what’s going awry? Can you stop yourself from telling them that they’re doing something wrong? Being objective and fair often requires that you swallow your preconceived notions about how your app is supposed to work and how people are supposed to use it. If you can step outside of yourself well enough in order to actually admit that your app isn’t working the way they’d like it to, you convey that you can see their point of view and want to treat them in a fair and respectful manner.
  3. Be generous
    Admitting that you made a mistake goes a long way, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. There are times you have to make things right by offering more than apologies and your time.Yes, that’s right, you might have to give something away. Think back to the last time you dealt with a business that did something wrong and then offered up an item of value. How did that make you feel? Was it about the value of the item or the fact that the business took a step it didn’t have to take and in so doing made you feel like they really understood you and took your problem seriously?Being generous isn’t about a blanket set of actions to give customers free things: it’s about doing something special, to take a step that most businesses refused to because of perceived cost or the fear of abuse. Being generous often has a huge reciprocal effect: customers want to be generous in return, often with effusive thanks. Often, your generosity becomes a story in and of itself (like this United example) and something worth sharing.
  4. Communicate through the entire process
    Most people hate automated emails, ticket systems and voice prompts to help them solve their problems. They want to communicate directly with another person and either work towards a resolution or know that they’ve been heard. Communicating with them starts with acknowledging that you’ve heard their feedback and if you’re going to follow-up with them, informing them of that next step.It’s important to keep customers updated about what is going on with their input. Have you decided to include their input in your roadmap? Are you making product changes or have you taken it in and decided not to do anything? Close the loop. Make sure that your customers know that real people are involved in dealing with their feedback and that their effort was appreciated, even if they won’t be getting the resolution they were hoping for. When you exhibit this kind of care customers better understand the nuance and thought process your company goes through. It’s much harder to demonize a company that has shared how it struggles with important decisions.
  5. Involve them in your success
    Imagine receiving an email that reads:

    Last month you brought to our attention the fact that our app does not allow you to share your videos on Facebook and that you thought this was really important.
    We are now working to add this to our latest update. Within the next few weeks, you will be able to share videos on Facebook from our app. We’re ecstatic that you took the time to make this suggestion and we really appreciate you helping us to make our app the best it can be.How would you feel if you got this email? Validated. Heard. Involved.If you get that message, the feature isn’t just a feature of the app – it’s YOUR feature too. When you show off the app in public you can point out that you’re the reason that video sharing to Facebook exists. Do you think that you’d be more likely to use and share that app? 


    When you let people know that they’re part of your journey to success and that you’re listening to them they go from critic to team member. The more team members you can convert from your critics the better – not only will the tone of the conversation be different but their likelihood to evangelize your app goes WAY up.

There’s no silver bullet, but you have lots of tools

Each of these 5 tactics is valuable and when combined, they’re incredibly effective at converting your critics to evangelists. The real key to success here is instill a pattern of behavior in your team that understands that your vocal critics actually care about what you’re building and that many of them will want to help you become better. There are few feelings more satisfying that converting a former critic to an evangelist.

Have you found other techniques helpful in turning critics into evangelists? Please share how you’ve found success in the comments and we’ll update this post with more ideas.