How to Deal With Users as an Indie Developer

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How to Deal With Users as an Indie Developer

A lot of developers dream of creating a startup or making money off their apps. But, if you do be prepared to interact with your users regularly.

· Agile Zone ·
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Being an independent developer is often portrayed as the best-case scenario since it is so much better than working for the man.

However, advantages of not being obliged to follow the corporate culture or work on projects you are not really interested in are packaged with the need to be not only a developer but a Jack of all Trades. To make money you need to function like a mini-company with several departments: IT, Marketing, and Sales.

Things are a little bit harder when you are not just a developer, but an introverted one. When you cannot afford to hire a content manager who will handle all the external communication instead of you, things you are not comfortable with fall on your shoulders.

You’d better not avoid communication regardless of the ways you sell your app, be it through dedicated platforms like Google Play, Apple Store, your own website or others. It is logical to assume that people would abstain from buying an app from developers who ignore their customers. And please, do not underestimate the value of online reviews and do not leave them with no comments from your side. Those who do, make a big mistake since the very fact that you responded can change a user’s attitude towards your product. It is a necessary evil, which you can learn to perceive as a great opportunity. A great opportunity to experiment. The thing is you do not need to change your personality in one day, trying a new role is enough.

You should try perceiving communication with customers as a video game, where you have to interact with other players, who have various characteristics, abilities, damage and where your task is to look for ways of getting points and finding loot. You must not perceive real people as mods. The thing is introverts often need to detach themselves from the situation in order not to take the criticism personally.

Changing your attitude towards things you do not like is not easy, but once you manage to do it, everything becomes easier and even funny. That is why you should spend some time categorizing your customers or their reviews and developing a strategy for each category. 

Your communication with customers, probably, will consist of reading their feedback and writing replies. The overall tone of customers’ reviews varies depending on the type of an app you sell, its price, quality, your initial promises, business model, and other factors.

There is more and less “controversial” software. The first type contains apps that may be popular, but also considered useless or even harmful, for example, various system optimizers, or cleaners. If you have decided to work in such a niche, be prepared to beat off attacks from people known as “tech geeks.” In addition, it is good for you to smooth things over by providing really useful content for customers you’d want to be your allies. For instance, it could be tutorials on how to clean up Mac storage if you made an app for OS X or how to remove ClickForSale Adware if you are oriented on Windows. If you succeed in winning some of your customers over, they will be your “protectors” from “a hostile army” of customers that did not like your app.  

If you make less “controversial” software like productivity apps, for example, you will get less scathing reviews. However, you should really stand out to get noticed. You can do that not only by making an app of high quality but also by responding to customers’ reviews and questions quickly. People love on-time attention. In addition, you can even provide your customers with more ways to express themselves besides rating your app and writing reviews. For example, Habitica created a really engaged community where users generate a lot of content and even share their fan art.   

Let us talk a little bit more about responding to reviews since introverted people often do not know how to respond to both positive and negative comments. Remember three main rules:

  1. Give a personalized answer.

  2. Reply on time.

  3. Be polite regardless of the tone of the users’ messages.

You can also refer to a tutorial for developers that Google has already prepared for those who sell apps via the Google Play Store.

If you have placed your app on a website where users can rate a product and leave comments, there will be several types of situations to deal with.

A positive review with a positive rating

It is the best variant possible since it does not eat your mental resources. You can just write “thank you” or even reply with smiles.

A positive review with a negative rating

Sometimes users forget to rate the app, so it looks like they disliked it, while the comment is positive. Do not be shy and ask them to change the rating so it corresponds with the review.

A positive review with criticism

This happens when a customer liked your app in general, but faced some problems while using it or noticed a lack of features. You have to thank the user for his or her feedback and ask to send a detailed description of the problem and provide his or her e-mail. This way you show that you really care.

A negative review with a negative rating

Things are easier if it is impacted by a problem for which you already have a solution. For example, users may not pay attention to the system requirements before downloading your app, thus, their experience cannot be good by default. Write your customers a detailed explanation of their problem if needed or provide a link to a forum where the solution is already given.

If the problem is unknown to you, ask the user to clarify the question and do your best to solve it. Perceive it as an additional quest.

Sometimes customers give your app a low rating just because they can, and often do, ask for you to make significant changes, failing to buttress their complaints with arguments. In case you see that a customer just wants to have a fight, recognize him or her as a troll and cool him or her off with a very polite request to change the rating.

A completely useless jumble of words with a random rating

It depends on the rating, but you’d better ignore such reviews so as not to waste your time. Sometimes, no answer is the best answer.

You can also find out more information about types of reviewers and how to deal with them.

So, if your app costs money, but fails to meet customers’ expectations to a degree that the majority of your promises seem to be false, customers will surely tell you about it. It is obvious. However, be prepared to take criticism in any way and perceive it just as a manageable obstacle. Meanwhile, remember, that you should make products you are not ashamed of. Once you understand the mechanics of the game, you can also develop your own algorithm for communication with your customers. It should be one of your “missions.”

agile ,application development process ,customer engagement ,customer experience

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