In the early days, when a user of my program ran into a problem, he/she just contacted me to ask for help. Resulting in a nice and friendly conversation, where I would ask questions, and the user would provide more detailed information.
Ultimately, in most cases, resulting in a satisfying outcome, either me helping the user use the software, or the user helping me fix a bug. Nice, fruitful, effective …
However, here’s what we’re seeing more and more nowadays, especially for our mobile apps, but it’s becoming more common for our desktop apps too:
A user runs into a problem, and instead of asking for help, immediately jumps to complaining about it in a public place like the App Store, the Android Market, Facebook or Twitter. Just stating the problem… no request for help, no conversation and therefore in most cases: no solution.
No conversation, no solution
Of course, getting bad reviews of your software is annoying. But the real issue here is the lack of conversation. Without a conversation:
- There is no way to help the user to actually solve his problem, simply because you can’t contact him.
- There is no way to fix actual bugs in your software, because you can’t learn what the problem is exactly, what might be causing it, how to reproduce it, etc… Making it next to impossible to fix the bug, let alone help the user (and possible other users running into the same bug!).
What’s happening here? And why?
Has the reputation of software companies (or internet companies in general) become so bad that users don’t even bother to ask for help anymore?
Some users at least don’t seem to expect any useful help. Instead:
- They’re just stating the problem or complaining about it.
No questions, no request for help, or even an expectation of a fix.
- They’re addressing other users, asking “Is anyone else having this problem?”
What’s that about? How is finding other with the same problem going to help you? Why not report the problem to the company directly so that they can actually do something about it? (this one is especially common on public Forums and Facebook).
- Or this weird one we’re often seeing:
“Why isn’t it possible to …?” (often followed by something that is possible).
I don’t get it. How is knowing “why” gonna help you? Don’t you just want us to help you make it possible?
Or has “warning other users about this piece of shit” become more important than actually getting your own problem solved?
Typical “App Store Attitude”. I admire the altruism, but think about it… if you help the software companies actually fix the problem… isn’t that more helpful for other users?
Or is this like, I’ll complain about the problem in public so then “they” will have to listen to me and do something about it.
I can understand and accept this one, but only in cases where it really is a last report to get the company to listen and act. But come on, be fair and at least try the normal support channels first.
Here’s some example one-star “reviews” from the Apple App Store and the Android Market. Interestingly, none of these reviews were posted under the user’s real names…
This would be better if it didn’t crash completely after every few comics scanned.
This use to work and no it won’t work on my itouch!!!!!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!! Seriously and their support is non existent!!!!! want my money back for this pos!!!!!
New update crashes at start-up!
App is good, but new version crashes on iPhone 4. No testing prior to posting? WTF.
For me, in my phone, The latest version is broken. It just crashes
The search feature does not work!
Waste of money
this is no comic app
FYI: each and every one of these “problems” could have been solved with one short email from our support guys. Except that last one maybe, but we’ll never know…