Earlier this year, Apple finally introduced the ability for app developers to respond to customer reviews – a feature Google had in place for several years. Now, Apple is expanding this feature with the launch of a new “Customer Support” role available now in the iTunes Connect portal. This gives developers who have larger teams the ability to give others permission to respond to customer reviews on the App Store.
Not being able to respond to customer reviews had been a longtime pain point for app developers, as users would often unfairly downrate apps because they didn’t fully understand its feature set, or because they were using a beta build of the app or a beta version or iOS, among other things. Sometimes, they simply downrated an app because it had the audacity to charge for in-app purchases, subscriptions, or other things that helped the developer make money.
It was surely endlessly frustrating for developers to see unfair reviews like this posted to the App Store, and have no way to write back.
In addition, users would often turn to App Store reviews to note bugs or glitches, and developers had no way to follow up and learn more in order to correct the problem.
That changed with the release of iOS 10.3 and macOS 10.12.4 in March, which at last gave developers the ability to offer support, ask follow-up questions, say thanks, or otherwise respond to users’ App Store reviews.
With this week’s addition of the Customer Support role, other team members can now do the same.
Apple says customer support reps will gain access to Resources and Help, Users and Roles, and My apps in iTunes Connect. By clicking on “My Apps,” they’re able to jump right into Ratings and Reviews and start responding to customers.
Of course, many app businesses already have teams in place whose members have other iTunes Connect roles that would make them good candidates to take on customer support duties, as well.
Apple says it will automatically assign Customer Support roles to those who already have the App Manager and Marketer roles in iTunes Connect to make the transition process easier. However, all new accounts added after July 13 will need to have the Customer Support role manually added, Apple notes.
The change is one of several Apple has had in the works, in terms of giving the App Store a big makeover. With customer responses, Apple is really playing catch up with Google Play, which introduced the feature back in 2012. But other changes to the App Store arriving in iOS 11 are more significant, including the separation of top charts for apps and games, a redesign that helps people better discover new apps, the addition of editorial content, and much more.