Lets jump straight to the chase, the most frequent cause of those damning 1 star reviews is crashes and bugs. You can find 1 star reviews for bad design, useless apps, useless features and so on. But the top reason is bugs and crashes. (Crashes are just really nasty bugs)
Below are some actual examples of 1 star customer reviews:
★☆☆☆☆ Update killed it
★☆☆☆☆ Needs to be fixed Force closes the second you open it
★☆☆☆☆ Just doesn't work right
★☆☆☆☆ Just ok: This could be a really good app. However, every time I go to E-offers and tap “load to card” it times out. It does this every time. I also get a lot of “info not available” errors. This app is so very slow. I would like to see a pharmacy option added to get refills. I love your store and I will continue shopping there but come on people, FIX THE APP!!
Don't react emotionally to bad reviews
You’ve spent months of effort and capital building, updating and improving your mobile app. You push it out into the wild for real customers to use and do a small press release. You and you’re team are happy with your achievements and proud to have built something people like. Or at least some people, right. There are some 4 and 5 star reviews. One for each of the team’s mom’s maybe, a few from your own team. And some truly happy customers. But then you see the 1 star reviews. Saying your app is worthless and a waste of time. You tell yourself that clearly they don’t know what they’re talking about. Just because they found one bug doesn’t mean your app is worth just one star. Plus they probably have an old device, or no internet connection. If it were an important bug your QA would probably have found it. Right?
And that’s how you rationalize away 1 star reviews. But they don’t actually go away. They sit there and pull your overall score down. And because bug and crashes tend to happen after all your good PR they filter to the top of the list of reviews. Most review lists are sorted with recent dates first and older ones later. When a change in iOS happens and causes you to have a new bug, all your good reviews get buried under the bad ones. This doesn’t create a great first impression for potential new downloaders.
One star reviews actually tend to hurt disproportionally worse. People tend to leave 1 star reviews when they’re upset, angry, or usually frustrated with your app. They’ve given you the benefit of a doubt and your app’s crashes and bugs are like putting an annoying lock on a small treasure chest of value and convince your app could provide. In frustration and retaliation to your bugs they leave the lowest review they can. Objectively they know your app has more value than that, but a 1 star review is one way they use to yell from attention from you. But because they rate it the lowest possible your average gets skewed unfairly.
Here are 3 things you can do about it
1) Obviously, fix the bugs and crashes
But do it in a timely manner. Although is a shift from “traditional” waterfall style development, quick iterative development is really in every bodies best interest, they company, the team, and the customer. You should strive to release updates and improvements to your apps every 4-6 weeks. 8 weeks is acceptable too but that’s a slippery slope to head down. Missing a 4 week deadline by 1 week seems way worse than missing a 8 week dealing by 1 week. Which means it’ll happen more often. Some highly efficient companies can actually release updates in practically real time. Every day. This is beyond most team’s capabilities but it shows it is possible. Shorter iteration times between releases help keep your app current and build trust with your customers. If they know you’ll fix a bug before the month is out you may get less 1 angry 1 star reviews.
2) Respond to 1 star reviews or complains via social media
Google play allows app owners to respond directly to reviews. This is a great way to save face with your shoppers, take a look at the reviews in Harris Teeter's Android app in Google Play to see the amazing job they do responding both to happy and upset customers. The key to doing this right is to have a support individual actively going on and responding to good and bad review comments in an individualized fashion. You lose the magic if every response is canned. Customization doesn’t take much, including the users name and the name of the support person in the response is an easy way to prove to your shoppers that a real person cares. You can also do this on any social media network. Shoppers will complain on twitter and Facebook and many times if they do, they will feel a certain amount of disappointment if you don’t actually respond.
3) Redirect bad reviews and strategically asks for good reviews
People tend to complain louder than they give praise. The reason is simple; they want to be heard. Give them an avenue to complain and be heard that’s easier to do than going to the app store and writing a review. You should follow up immediately with an email saying you received their concerns and tell them how long they have to wait to get a real person’s response. Lastly make sure you respond in time.
To dig up more good reviews you need to strategically ask the user if they’re interested in leaving a review. Strategy is important here. Don’t ask the to review your app 2 seconds after they log in the first time. Don’t do that. They’ve not received any value from you yet. Don’t rush the “review please” popup. Think how a child gets something they want from a parent. They butter them up first. How can you butter up your shoppers? Maybe give them a free “just because” coupon. Follow that up with your “review please” popup. Don’t bribe them by holding value hostage. No coupon or discount giving if they first give you a good review. That’s like your restaurant server saying that they’ll serve you well if you tip first. How would that make you feel? Treat your customers with respect and give them more than they expect. If they choose not to leave a good review that’s fine too. Listen to what they have to say. Also, when you ask for the review, make sure to have your “bad review” redirect in the popup too.
Really bad 1 star reviews are usually shoppers reactions to your bugs and crashes. The bugs are usually symptoms of inefficiencies in your customer relations model and development cycles. Fix these and your 1 star ratings will fade into history as new, positive reviews bury them. You’ll also notice improvements in other areas of your customer relations as well, which is of course a good thing. :)