With the release of iOS 10.3, Apple also added functionality to iTunes Connect to let you respond to reviews. What's really cool about this: Apple sends your reply as an email to the user's AppleID!
I had to go immediately and try to reply to a feedback I had left on my own app, prod.ly. So I went to My Apps – prod.ly – Activity Tab – Reviews and Reviews. And there I clicked on the new and blue reply icon on the right hand side.
There appears to be some kind of review or verification process as the developer's response is not visible right away. So I left it on it.
One day later I received mail …
For a nice surprise! It's not what I like to have positive conversations with myself. My pleasure comes from being able to try to win back dissatisfied customers by having Apple send them on your behalf!
This is incredibly powerful! If you take time and tell each concrete feedback why you now earn 5 stars instead of 1, you can dramatically increase your reputation and app review. As you see in the email, the user is prompted
Would you like to update your review?
The user can change his assessment and rating. ITunes Connect Developer Guide has more juicy details.
When responding to a customer review, the customer will be notified of your response and will be able to update their review. All users with the Legal, Admin, App Manager or Cursor role who have access to the app will receive a notification if a customer you responded changes their notification. Your response will remain publicly visible, regardless of edits made by the customer for their own review unless you choose to edit or delete your reply in iTunes Connect. You can edit your response at any time, and only one response per review will appear on your App Store product page.
So, if the user actually changes yours – probably long forgotten – you think your answer may be outdated. However, Apple allows you to delete or edit your response as well, when you receive notice that the user responded to. It's good, because otherwise you can end up with a comic scenario where your response does not seem to have any connection with the review. That's an answer.
In 10.3 we find a new way to request app reviews, a way less intrusive than night shades that we have learned to hate. This new review view can not be displayed more than 3 times a year. Since it no longer takes us out of the app, we may be more likely to actually use it to respond in a few words.
From now on we will also measure developers on the quality of our public response. Possibly, we force ourselves to hire a community manager who will do the user interactions on our behalf if we do not have the time or interest in doing it ourselves.
Anyway, Apple finally – who has been hawkishly protects the user's (e-mail) identity – let's now email us our response, albeit indirectly. This is a great opportunity to try to win back users by telling them about new releases (which hopefully solves their problems).
Also published on Medium.