Using Common Sense to Deliver Good Customer Service

Customer service can make or break your apps. Most people contact customer service for help, to complain, or to vent frustrations. If you're lucky, you'll get a rare email that raves about your app. Polite, prompt, and helpful responses can prevent frustrated customers from venting on the reviews, which can affect your overall rating, or even sales, if the reviewer brings up a perceived flaw of your app (merited or not!). Managing your customers satisfaction doesn't have to be hard. This post will cover some tips on a common sense approach to customer contact and how to provide exceptional customer service.

Quick Response

Any response that's quick, even when dealing with an extremely negative email, will surprise and delight the customer. My experience shows that even the most explosive inquiry can quickly be diffused by responding immediately. Sometimes they just want their complaint to be acknowledged by a human. Conversely, ignoring any requests is an instant invitation for a frustrated customer to vent negatively in the AppStore reviews. The first rule of thumb to achieving customer satisfaction is to provide a prompt response. Our goal is within 48 hours, but we often respond in a just a few hours.

Receiving Criticism

Negative feedback can be difficult to hear. You will need thick skin. When reporting perceived or real bugs, some customers will be abrasive, some will be nicer. Your job is to not react personally to any types of attacks on your app. It's difficult when someone calls your app names. However, their perception is their reality. Perhaps you did miss a bug in all your testing? Maybe someone misunderstood how to use your app? Or, maybe they just need some guidance, being new to a mobile device? The key to responding is to be calm, ask questions for clarification, try to find out how to reproduce the bug and on what device/iOS version, and apologize for any inconvenience. If it is a bug, provide a workaround, or if not, explain in details how to fix the problem. The conversation could take several emails, but just a quick, initial response with questions will most likely calm your customer down. If the email is especially vitreous, responding politely is the best approach—kill them will kindness. Follow-up with solutions to the issue—customers love to hear that they made a difference in improving an app.

Learning and Improving

After helping the customer, or receiving feedback, explain how you will use their input. Perhaps you have added it to the list of future features? Mention how valuable their feedback is for understanding your customer's usage. Discuss why you may not have included that feature yet, or why you did not plan to, but how you can appreciate how it would help them. If you are unsure why the feature is important, don't shoo them away, ask for an explanation on how adding it would make the app better for them. Be honest and sincere; a conversation with your customer is better than a lecture or a brush off and will be received much better. Feedback is crucial to making improvements in your apps, so encourage it and then use it.

Don't Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

Never provide a release date for new features, unless you've already submitted the app for approval with that feature. Explain that you want to work on that feature, but either haven't yet added it to the next release nor have set a timeline for completion. If you promise a feature by X date, the customer will follow up, and will be dissatisfied if you do not deliver. Don't make any promises you can't keep. It's much better to under-promise and over-deliver.

The Refund

Sometimes you will get a request for a refund. Don't argue, but you can try to persuade them to change their mind. If they have not given a reason, ask them why. Gently suggest a workaround, or explain how something works (if they did not figure it out), or explain that you have plans for improvement. Tell them you would like to make them a satisfied customer, but will understand if that is not possible. Explain that Apple is the only one who can provide a refund, because developers are not given sensitive customer information. Sometimes they will give you another chance, other times they will go ahead and request a refund from Apple. Most likely, this approach will stop a negative review from happening.

Getting feedback

Make it easy to get feedback from your customers. Ensure your contact link on the AppStore isn't broken. Put several contact options in your apps—a help page, a contact page, and a way to contact via email. Also provide a link to review the app, or forward to a friend—this will help promote positive feedback. Put contact information and/or an online form on your website. (Make sure you have a website.) Most importantly, make it easy for customers to contact you directly—that way you'll get feedback, negative or positive, in private, rather than aired on the AppStore review page. At the end, if you feel comfortable asking, request an AppStore review once you've ensured that they are satisfied. Many are happy to oblige.

Be Prompt, Be Polite, Be Humble

In order to stop negative feelings in their tracks, to surprise and delight, always respond promptly to all customer email. A polite response will always diffuse any situation. Don't get defensive, be humble and admit you can always improve, as you answer your customers' emails. Nice goes a long way in ensuring positive interactions and satisfaction, which is key to continued promotion by word of mouth, an important element in the survival of your business.