Let’s take it offline

Daily stand-ups are a common part of Agile product teams. They are a great way to keep the entire team informed of what everyone else is up to. However a stand-up is not the forum for every type of conversation to happen.

Occasionally the conversation will steer towards something that doesn’t need to be discussed in front of an entire product team. This is when someone usually says, “Let’s take it offline”. Essentially business speak for finding the right setting for this conversation.

We understand that conversations have contexts and yet a lot of the time we only allow one avenue for conversations with our users in the applications we create. Having one avenue for dialog with your users forces the whole gamut of user conversations to go through that single channel.

Because of the effects positive app store reviews have on their apps, many developers decide that prompting users to leave app store reviews will be the first communication channel incorporated into their app. This is especially common with free apps (which offer in-app purchases).

There are a couple of problems with this strategy (apart from annoying your users). Not every conversation is supposed to be public. Prompting users for app store reviews without offering an alternative means of communication introduces muddiness into that communication channel. ‘Reviews’ start to appear that are simply questions, statements or frustrations.

Much like running a successful stand-up there are some ground rules that should be understood by the people who are communicating. A stand-up is about getting a gauge on where each member of the team is currently at. Likewise being able to gauge where your users are at is invaluable to providing them the most appropriate avenue for communication.

This idea of gauging user sentiment in order to direct them to either a public or private feedback channel is starting to appear in quite a few apps. You will start to see an inline tile or modal that asks “How are you feeling about our app?”, or prompts that offer a rating out of five stars. Regardless of the mechanism, the important thing is that it gauges user sentiment and that it happens in the app.

If the user’s reaction is negative then they are given the opportunity to say why. But if they respond positively they are then directed to leave a review on the app store.

All this is not to say that users cannot leave negative reviews on the app store. If they are are wanting to do that, of course they can. It does mean that you are creating a culture around your app that gives personal attention to people who are experiencing issues while capturing analytics on user sentiment that might never make it to the app store.