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Proactively seeking user satisfaction

Dustin Amrhein // February 1, 2017

Business history is littered with tales of failure borne from organizations that take on reactive postures versus proactive ones. In some cases, it was an organization that refused to cannibalize a legacy business in favor of a higher growth area, and in other cases an organization that failed to see disruptive forces in their industry soon enough. You have probably heard many of these stories, and if not, there is sufficient literature on the subject. In any case, the macro lesson is this: Proactive action trumps reactive response in nearly every case.

This lesson applies equally well to how you should think about user satisfaction in mobile apps. You probably instinctively know the stakes are high when it comes to the user experience in mobile, and the data backs that intuition. For example, apps with a good rating have been shown to generate 5x the number of installs as apps with poor ratings. This has serious implications to you as an app owner or stakeholder.

The most obvious implication is that you need to deliver a great app. But then, you already know that. There is another implication that may not be as obvious. If your app is great and no one is talking about it or sharing their opinion, it doesn’t really matter. You must take a proactive approach to inspiring users to share their satisfaction. In that regard, here are some things to think about:

– Asking users to rate your app: Favorable app store ratings are coveted, but are you asking for them in the app? If not, you need to start. If you are asking users to rate your app, you need to carefully consider how you are doing it. The focus should be on asking the right users, your most frequent users in most cases, at the right time. The ‘right time’ part is a little trickier, but think about the part of your app where users are likely most satisfied. For instance, in a shopping app perhaps you ask for a rating right after a user makes a purchase. Finally, when you ask users for an app rating you need to have a conditional response approach. First ask users if they will give you an excellent rating. If they answer ‘Yes’, then to the app store they go. If they answer ‘No’, then ask them why they are not satisfied – but keep them in the app. Take control and keep bad ratings out of the app store.

– Keeping users current: Mobile is iterative, and the iteration cycles happen quickly. If you are delivering new versions of your app once per quarter that’s great. But are you measuring user adoption of new app versions? If you are and the results are disappointing, you need to take action. Establish deliberate campaigns to inform users of new versions, and encourage them to upgrade by clearly explaining the benefit to them. At some point you have to do more than encourage – you have to mandate an upgrade. However, if you have at least prepared your laggards via encouragement, their experience is likely to be better. Through encouraging and then mandating upgrades, you can ensure your users are seeing the latest and greatest, and you can minimize engineering energy spent on version debt.

– Building satisfaction through responsive listening: There are many sophisticated methods and tools that help you understand usage and perception of existing features. They can even help you anticipate features that users need. Those are great, but don’t forget that there are simple ways too! For instance, embed a survey in your mobile app that asks users for feedback on new features being considered. Ask your most engaged users. Ask users that respond negatively to a request for an app rating as part of the conditional flow discussed earlier. The bottom line is to ask and then to show you are listening with personalized feedback, and when warranted, app changes. Responsive listening will inspire your users to advocate on your behalf!

Acquiring and retaining happy users is an obvious goal in mobile. Getting those users to talk about how happy they are can easily get overlooked. Focusing aggressively on both of these goals is a recipe for lasting success with your mobile app!


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