Why I don’t worry about our app’s negative reviews

Illustration by Nate Otto.

Our happiest customers are most likely our quietest customers

Like any app developer, the Android team at Basecamp cares about our app’s reviews. We look at them regularly because they can be a valuable source of feedback and a way for us to talk to our customers.

And like any app developer, we see our fair share of negative reviews. As a small team who takes feedback seriously, it’s a bummer when someone doesn’t like our app.

A negative review of Basecamp 3 for Android. 😭

Of course not all negative reviews are thoughtfully written, and much has already been made of how broken ratings and reviews are. Still, it’s hard not to take some of it to heart and let it weigh you down.

But over time, I’ve learned one really important thing…

No matter how many negatives reviews we get, there are a lot of people who really like our app — they just don’t write many reviews. It’s important to remember those happy, quiet customers and not get too hung up on negative reviews.

Leaving reviews just isn’t a priority for many people

Here’s the thing — as much as you want them to, there’s really no strong incentive for someone to leave you a positive review.

For many people, your app is doing its job dutifully and everything is working great. It’s not changing their lives or revolutionizing their world, but it’s helping them get something done. They’re thankful it exists.

But for them writing a review is never going to be a priority. Even if they love your app and are raving to their friends and co-workers about it, giving you written, positive feedback is never going to compete against the hundred other things they’ve got going on in their lives.

You may have even experienced this yourself — do you have any apps installed that you like but have never left a positive review for? I certainly do.

Sure, there are ways to boost your ratings and reviews, and you should take whatever opportunities you can to help your app. But no matter what you do, there will always be a subset of users who are very quiet, but very happy.

Listen to your negative reviews, but keep your quiet, happy customers in mind too

While negative reviews aren’t always useful (particularly one-star reviews with the word “useless” written in it), some can be genuinely helpful.

What’s most important is that you listen to the reviews that have constructive criticism and feedback.

Great feedback from a customer, and an A+ response by our designer, Jamie Dihiansan. He listens, responds thoughtfully, and leaves the door open for a conversation.

Respond if you can, and encourage them to email you directly with more details. Feedback and direct interactions with customers are valuable and show that you’re listening. Consider their ideas, prioritize, and start making your app better for those customers.

But at the same time it’s very, very important to know that there are a lot of people using your app that are perfectly happy with it.

You’ve already done a great job to get to where you are. Don’t lose sight of that.

Be sure to give everything five minutes so that the squeaky wheels don’t cloud your judgement. Continue to trust yourself and your team to make sound decisions based on considerate thought, not knee jerk reactions. And really think about all your customers, not just the vocal ones.

Sometimes our happiest customers do write reviews. 😀

Believe me, the positive reviews and happy customers are out there. You just can’t hear them all.🤘

We’ve been working really hard to make the all-new Basecamp 3 and its companion Android app as great as they can be. Check ’em out!

If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it! Email me or hit me up on Twitter and let’s chat.