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142

Ability to respond to Windows Phone customer reviews being rolled out to more developers

Windows Phone 8.1 Store

Microsoft is rolling out the ability for developers to respond directly to reviews in the Windows Phone Store. Replying to reviews is a feature that we reported on before the Windows Phone 8.1 announcement and was later confirmed by Microsoft. Select developers have had the ability since April thanks to a phased rollout, but a wider rollout is taking place now.

Microsoft began the rollout plan in mid-April with a small pilot group of developers. Additional developers began to be invited in May, and each month developers were added to the group. This is a group most developers want to be in since you're able to respond directly to customer complaints and feedback. A useful tool to reach the majority of Windows Phone consumers who don't read enthusiast's sites.

We've heard from a handful of developers that they've recently been added in the past few days and are now seeing the feature. Leading us to believe that Microsoft is opening up the ability to most, if not all, developers.

Developers can respond directly to customer reviews by going to their Dashboard. Consumers will receive an email from Microsoft when a developer has replied to their review. That email will contain a support email address for the developer if supplied by the developer. Consumers can then directly contact developers with the support email.

As of right now, developers can only respond to reviews left by Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 devices with their country and region set to the United States. They can also respond to ANY review left by a Windows Phone 8.1 device.

Curious if your developer account has the feature? You can easily check by going to the Reviews section in the Dev Center Dashboard and seeing the Respond option. It'll appear automatically when your account gains this feature.

Here's the process in step form to respond to a review:

  • Sign into Dev Center and go to the Dashboard
  • Go to the Apps section and select an app
  • Select Reviews and find a review you'd like to respond to
  • Click Respond, write your message, then click Send

Very neat and a great way for developers to improve their customer service with Windows Phone users. As of right now, we're not seeing developer replies to reviews when viewing the Windows Phone Store as a consumer, but that's a feature we'd like to see. It'd be great to sort review by those that have received a reply from the developer.

Are you a developer? Let us know if you can respond to reviews in the Windows Phone Store!

Source: Microsoft

Thanks for the tip Sarah!

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Reader comments

Ability to respond to Windows Phone customer reviews being rolled out to more developers

142 Comments

Depends.

"This word processor doesn't have cut and paste," - Legitimate

"This word processor doesn't have a flashlight," - Not ligitimate

Now, I'm not a developer, but even just browsing reviews I see just as many of the later as the former.

I really hate when people review my apps with 2 stars or something and say "Does what it says, but doesn't have feature X - sucks"

Well what were you expecting?  It says it will do A and does A, don't expect A and B.

Ditto. More than happy for users to request a feature it doesn't have, but don't leave a bad review because it doesn't have a feature it never said it did. ESPECIALLY if it's completely free.

I've found the 'Did you find this review useful: Yes | No' feature really effective for getting the worthless reviews nearer the end of the list and the valid reviews near the top. Though of course it doesn't affect the overall rating.

Ok let's say there are 2 word processor apps.
1) has copy/paste

2) does not have copy/paste

1) says it has copy/paste in the store's description

2) doesn't say anything about copy/paste.

Should I give them both 5 stars, just because they both do exactly what they say, even though app 1 is clearly better?

I always rate based on what similar apps offer.

I try to read what it says it will do and check to see how well it does it. If it is missing something I think it would be good to have I will give it stars based on how well it functions for what it is supposed to do. Just below I will put it would be great if it had x....i think that is how you should do it.... Unless of course you can send your suggestion to the developer, then just do that

So when there is x amount of "No" on that review the review should be either removed or doesn't have any effect on the overall review

That's all well and good. What we have an issue with is one or two reviews for great apps that are missing one feature the user happens to want but was never advertised.

True, but still if you let developers delete comments they will CERTAINLY abuse it.

I always comment about lacking features in my reviews. For example "Kodak Pic Flick" still does not let us print documents after all these years, while competing manufacturers like HP do allow that.

Neither Microsoft's "PDF Reader", nor "Adobe Reader" allow us to share our .pdfs without signing in to some stupid cloud account, while 3rd party ones do allow that.

Well you get my point.

I then rate depending on how significant the missing feature is. So Kodak's printing app would get 2, while the two most popular pdf readers would get 3 from me.

IMO if devs get the ability to censor reviews then they'll just do THAT, instead of improving their apps.

giving 2 stars for a missing feature while the app is working just fine doesn't make any sense !
3 and up is ok for "missing feature" but i was talking about the one stars review !

It's true that the 1 star "app sucks" reviews are bad, because they don't actually explain why they gave 1 star, but it's still a gray area. I think whatever can be abused will be abused, so I'd rather there was no way of removing reviews.

Anyway it's not up to me.

Completely agree with Sargon. If developers can delete reviews, there would be no point in leaving one, and I wouldn't.

Hard to ensure only the 'good' feedback is counted.  What is the effect of the "was this helpful" yes/no question? Does it just cause the helpful reviews to show towards the top and buries the 'app sucks' reviews?  I wonder if they could take it a step further and weight the star rating of the review by the review ratings.  So if a one-star rating with an clear majority of 'not-helpfuls' won't drag down the average rating as much as a 'helpful' one-star rating would.  Of course you'd have to prevent multiple voting of the same thing through each account to prevent developers from skewing it.  Just sucks that you have the 'derr, dis ap sux' crowd having too much effect on developers that deserve a fair shake.
 

It's a legitimate one but at least give 3/4 stars 
if the app just got released it will affect the reviews and not everyone will try a low rated app when there is another one with 4/4.5 stars

Developers shouldn't have the ability to delete comments or one star reviews. If so, I guarantee you every fart app will have 5 stars next to it.

How about a process where a developer can request Microsoft remove a review under a certification which involves the developer explain why the review is invalid. This way you can get rid of obviously BS reviews and it can't be abused.

I think if its completely useless(Useless needs a set if terms), foul or threatening to the developer or other consumers then yeah, sure why not.

That is already possible. Devs can complain about users reviews but they will be only removed if:

If it contains content that is inappropriate for all ages (such as vulgar language) 

or

Is clearly spam/advertising (such as promoting a competitor's app). 

But i wish as a dev that there is more to it, like i had a respond like this "this app says its snowing out there but in my room there is no snow, so this is BS". i reported this review and Microsoft has no taken it down. An tell me wich sane person would think that an weather app measures temperatures and conditions on the device and not from a source for the condition out there?! :) and i have dozens of such comments where me as the dev can not change anything to make it better. like "it doesnt refresh without internet!" oh come on, if an app relies on an internet source of course it needs internet. and such reviews are not deleted. then explain me why?! Reviews like this do not review anything in the app or the code of the app, it says just that the user can not use his device!

Lol that's why i said "somehow fixed" 
like maybe after some 10 (or more) of down voting on that review it should be deleted 

Sadly developers can't push a button in the dev dashboard to have stupid people using their apps assassinated/spontaneously die.
We can always hope that the Death Note book is real.

My app's rating dropped below the 4-star mark recently over a few people giving me 1-star reviews about weather radar not working outside of the US, although it says, multiple times, in the description that it is US only. These are the kinds of reviews that need to be deleted. There needs to be a 1-click "report" button on each review which USERS or DEVELOPERS can flag as inappropriate or misleading and have them reviewed by Microsoft.

I'd suggest releasing the app only in the US region, and give a warning when your app detects that the user is outside the US explaining that it won't work for them?

I'm going to release radar internationally eventually, so not much of a need to put the work in to create something that will just be removed later. However, this is just one of many examples of how users leave misleading, nonsense reviews. The problem is minor at the moment, to say the least, as I have dropped from a 4 to a 3.9. It's just a nuisance.

you can make it even different. if your weather app has already the location or can get the location of the device then a simple if (user == USA) { display radar } else { dont display anything or display an ad }. change also the description and dont mention radar in the functions of the app. because users wil see out of "this app does not have radar outside of USA" something like "this app - radar - outside." and forget about what you wrote in 10 sec. :)

And for the comment above it could be made, something like an startup test, if the user does not pass then the app closes :) but this would cause thousands of bad reviews.

Apps are updated over time, and often older reviews might bring down the overall rating of the app even though the problems that may have been noted in the old reviews were fixed in newer updates.

Hey, there should be Debit card option to purchase apps... Even with an international debut card i am unable to purchase from the store... :(

"this app isn't available for my region (HERE Drive, anyone?) or doesn't work with 512mb RAM."
Also:
[ 1 star] "sucks"

"make it free"

Banning these would be awesome. :P

Useful only if developers want to listen to problems.. There are lot of apps which are receiving no attentions since a year or six months..even after repeated complaints.

Yes indeedy not just that thing was .79p I know that's nothing to gripe over but still you pay for something you expect something in return XD

Indeed it was actually pulled when I last checked obviously they know now so perhaps it will be back and actually working not getting my hopes up of course

It's called Monetization. Devs don't make money on free apps, and therefore the price, unless outragous, doesn't warrant complaint...

This is great and should make the app experience a bit more personal and provide direct feedback to customers. I also feel its a good way for customers to say something more than "It sucks" or "It's better on X platform" and the developers can respond in a more professional way to such useless and unhelpful comments.

Noting that a particular app doesn't have a feature is legitimate complaint. I'm not a developer but if I were, I'd want feedback on what features people want so I can make my app better. If what they're asking falls into something that makes sense for the app.

I have gotten many responses from developers from their in app messaging, and have even seen missing features that I requested added. That is a far more appropriate place to bring out missing features, as opposed to giving a poor rating because the app did what it said it would do. That beyond said, if I downloaded an app and found that it wasn't useful for me, I may give a 3 star rating, but I will change my review if any changes are made to improve. I don't know if many people bother to review their ratings. So their complaint I'd a missing feature may be invalid before to long.

Not to mention, users are going to love getting yelled at by developers. Yet another way to attract people to the platform!  :)

Right! I'm assuming they're trying to appease developers so they will have more apps to boast about to entice consumers. I just hope it doesn't backfire!

When I wrote my comment I thought "this could get ugly very quickly", but someone else here posted that users can unsubscribe from getting dev repsonses. So at least there's an 'out' for users. Looks like MS did think this through. Curious how this will play out though. 

Finally! Unfortunately, the negative reviews seem to be outside the US and some they just leave a dumb comment or no comment. Wish I could respond.

Just responded to all my unsatisfied customers of Clipr - Photo app. It's very nice way to interact with users to improve the app. Well done Microsoft.

I imagine, not to far in the future we may see some of Daniel's snarky responses on the WPcentral feedback page lol.

Seriously though, there are insane amount of one star reviews and one word or nothing, sometimes ironically all they say is Good or Gud :eck: . I got fed up tagging them all as unhelpful, more keep popping up out from the woodwork like wood ants lol.

So as a test, I responded to someone I know reviewed our app and he got the mail quickly. That mail included his original review and my response. It also contained links for Opt Out (so that devs can't respond to you) and Report a Concern (to tell MS that the dev is harassing you). He clicked Opt Out and it didn't ask him to confirm or anything -- it just opted him out, providing a simple thank you. The problem is, neither of us know how to opt him in again. Thoughts???

I had the similar question. If an user opts out for future emails, does this mean for this dev or for all devs?! it would not be fair if one dev treats it user bad and lets say a good dev responds something nice to the same users and the user does not get this email because he/she opted out before because of an idiot dev :D. this would be frustrating for al other devs that make their job good. Then its like we dont have this option to respond and after 3-6 months all users will opt out and we can delete this option to respond to reviews :D i hope Microsoft makes this just an "opt out for this devs emails".

This should be restricted to developers though. The ability of commenting on other comments would be a really good feature. Sure there's the chance of spamming, which is why the there should be some sort of up/down voting feature.

Great feature... players are responding very positively when they receive an email from gam epublisher. It also helped me with those frustrating 1-star reviews that say "AWESOME GAME" but still mistakenly leave 1star rating. I got the players to correct the rating. Also, some reviewers dont see a feature and leave bad review.. it helped to point out the player to teh feature and then the rating improves :)  Check out my latest game Hyper Cell - rocking hard with 70 5star reviews on launch. 

I hope that they can add the ability for customers to view all reviewed apps so that it can be edited easily if any improvement has been made by developers

A pity it's limited to region and OS version of the reviewer. There are many reviews I'd like to reply to (like "Live Tile isn't updating" which was an issue in 8.0 when mobile data was turned off..).
 

it is for WP7 and WP8 US only, but WP8.1 Worldwide. so it depends on what OS the user had when he left this review.

Who is going to listen to us the users frustrated about removal of features we loved in wp7. So to hec yo u Ms and devs

I'm not a developer, but comments like, "not available in x country, sucks" and they give a 1 star rating when the description says what country is available I feel is an unfair and useless rating.

I have emailed 3 or 4 devs recently, rather than leaving negative feedback on the store.

I was polite, explaned the issues in detail, offered feature suggestions, and asked what was thought of my ideas.

Not one of them has gotten back to me. :/

That's super nice of you and very much appreciated by developers. I know of many developers that get back to feedback and even the ones that don't usually answer you often fix the issues. So, I hope you are not disheartened by those experiences and keep providing useful input.

I can only speak for my team but we embrace user suggestions and always get back to feedback emails. In a way, we all rely on each other - users on devs to fix bugs and keep the updates coming and devs on users to show their gratitude via ratings. From a dev's point of view what used to really bother us is not having been able to point out features we already supported but customers overlooked so we're delighted to be able to clarify such issues from now on.

I wish everyone did that. I have a few apps which usually get 4 or 5 star ratings. I've had a couple 1 and 2 star ratings come through but they didn't say anything in the comment and I never received any email feedback. It's very frustrating as not only does it bring your average way down (especially for a new app with a couple of ratings) but you have no idea what they're disatisfied with.

I just got an email from one dev about my review. Not sure how I feel about it because it revealed my name to the dev. Would have preferred to stick with my username.

Personally I use to post a review in my native tongue, those that mean I should start posting in English or do they see some kind of translation?

I must say this discussion is great and the post too. a really good topic and here is what i have to say to this. This is an good tool for devs now but its in a beta stage because there are some things where will be changes over time as we use it. some of the features dont make sense like "opt out for future emails from devs" why for all devs?! Why not just this one wich caused this to opt out?! i think this will be changed so good devs will be able to respond even if the user opted out.

second - my app and it was some time ago free without ads, 20% of the reviews came from users that responded bad without any valid point. i changed my app to paid and i got a new result out of the stats, 100% of the users that buyed the app gave a good rating, no one complained! Why is this? someone can think of this like users search the store, install apps for free and bash devs and their apps out of curiosity or just for fun. Because at this timeframe where my app was just paid without trial i got really 100% positive reviews. Of course i've done my math, the review/download rate is on my app 1/10 so on 1000 downloads i get aproxx 100 reviews, on a free app 20 of this 100 are bad and not valid at all. On the other side as a paid app the review/download stats are nearly the same 1/10 and 100% of them are positive and 4 or 5 star ratings. This shows that all the bad reviews that dont make sense are caused by people which dont even know what they review, or why they hold a spartphone in their hands.

And i have to say i wish Microsoft implements an better policy about what can be deleted from the reviews. If an users reviews "today i got headache" and gives 1 star this is no review to the app itself. such reviews in my opinion should be valid to removal if the dev wants it. I saw a dozens of reviews like "this Nokia sucks - 1 star" on apps that has nothing to do with Nokia or even a phone OEM. Why the dev can not ask that this kind of reviews can be deleted that does not reviews the app itself?!

The system only allows me to respond if the review is 4 or 5 stars :( I wish Microsoft would allow me to respond on any type of review.

As a developer I like to get constructive feedback, but a lot of times the reviews are without any feedback, just disparaging comments :(

Are you sure your worse than 4 star reviews aren't from countries other than the US and of WP7 or 8 phones? It seems unlikely Microsoft would have different rules for different developers...