Startups and the Economy of User Reviews

In the world of startups, especially startups with free services like ours, there are some key metrics I keep my eyes locked on: app installs, new users, active users, user engagement (email inquiries, customer feedback), and arguably the most important of them all, reviews.

Let me be completely transparent, Reviews are a kind of currency for free app developers.

  (1)  A 5 star, (or even a 4 star) review is as good as a paying me for the app, as it looks good to future potential users.

  (2)  It feels good to have an idea affirmed.

  (3)  It keeps the momentum moving forward and increases the likelihood of further app development and even better features.

Win, Win, and WIN!

 

We’re going to get things wrong sometimes…

We had a hiccup with new account creation/user login today.

As a tech co-founder, this is not the fun part.

It started with an email: “Hey, I can’t sign in”…

Then went to red alert when we received a handful of 1 and 2 star reviews: “we can’t login”…

Thankfully we resolved the issue and pushed a new version of the app which we were working on that also includes an upgrade to the notification system.

Users had intermittent login issues for about 3 hours.

 

Please hear what I am saying:

So let’s talk about 3, 2, 1 star reviews. Based on the feedback with ratings today, we missed the mark.

I can imagine the frustration of a user to go from download to login error.

We earned those reviews, unfortunately.

If this is your one and only exposure to FreshFridge, we failed.

That really bums us out – first, because you’re our customer, and also because we just want it to be right….

Personally, until I’ve had a really good chance of understanding the core features of an app, I wouldn’t give it a review at all, let alone a one-star review.

Perhaps there’s a bigger issue at hand?

 

A Better Feedback Loop

I’m going to editorialize for a minute: After this experience today, I would implore Google and Apple to make customer support for apps front and center on app pages.

When an app misses expectations, especially for tech support related reasons, users have one tool to get results: the review and ratings system. (yes, there’s a link at the bottom to contact the developer…

(Thank you to the those folks who used this today!)

This leads to poor scores not based on functionality, but on technical service.

Sure that’s a part of the app experience, but our score isn’t a true reflection as to whether or not we provide a unique, beneficial service, it is skewed to reflect a short window of time when a few users couldn’t access the app…

 

So Google & Apple: please upgrade your app pages to facilitate better customer service experience for developers and their users.

I really hope you hear me on that…

 

Can I ask?

The next time you download an app and it doesn’t work the first time or there’s some features that are meeting your expectations, before you spend 30 seconds to review the app and give it one or two stars, please spend 30 seconds and send an email to the developer instead.

They’ll really appreciate it, and it’s a much better feedback loop for getting the features that you really truly want in the app in the first place, right?

 

We’ve got some work to do

So I’m trying not to be a whiny brat (how’d I do?), but hopefully you can see why 3, 2, or 1 star reviews are pretty frustrating to free app developers.

Regardless, we’re going to do our best to earn those missing stars.

Sound good?

 

Freshfridge is being developed on a daily/weekly basis and we look at the reviews and each and every email that we receive, and we’re very serious about serving YOU (our Customers) by adding features and functions you want to see that truly make ours the very best app experience possible.

We really do care because this is OUR app, too!

With your help, we’ll be the best app on the block!

 

Thank you to those folks who have emailed me about app features that we’ve added recently, like the freezer functionality – we really appreciate the feedback…

 

Presently, we have sorting and category features planned, as well as an incredible whole hardware expansion system that we absolutely cannot wait to share with you!  We truly believe this will change your world forever.

We created FreshFridge because no other app out there creates the holistic, food-centered ecosystem that we’re building.

We look forward to earning those 5 star reviews and fixing those that aren’t quite there yet..

 

Keep it Fresh!

 

The Status Report: Progress on 1.0, Updates and Coming Features 1.1

First, a big thank you to those who’ve downloaded the app in the opening week. We have intentionally “soft launched” the Android app to make sure core features are working smoothly. Non-Spoiler Alert: They are. More on that in a bit. As we finalize the iOS app and submit it to the App Store, we will make the official announcement of additional features included in the “live” version as well as opportunities to win prizes for sharing and downloading the app.

We (Jared, Alex, Ryan, and the FreshFridge team) are extremely proud to put our idea out on the open market. FreshFridge is the first step in our grand scheme and it starts with an app that encourages and simplifies tracking food in your home from purchase to yummy consumption. We’re going to post updates like these on a bi-weekly basis to keep you in the loop on progress and features. You, our users, are our most important feedback loop and we want to keep you interested (hopefully) and excited (even hopefullier….it’s a word, trust us).

Progress

The current Beta version of the app in the Play Store is holding up well. With a 2.23% crash rate, we are comfortable with the issues triggered, their fixes, as well as the rate they are occurring. We highly recommend Fabric/Crashalytics for app development. It’s been great to use and identify issues within our app. For the non-tech founder, there are sweet looking graphs like the one above to keep you clued in without the code.

With Android UAT looking solid, we are ready to upload the iOS version next week. We will need more users for that test and thankfully have a number of folks lined up ready to “break” the app. We will give that a week to run and launch the “going public” version in March. Hopefully full of new features….

Coming Soon

There are some obvious features missing from the beta test which we will be implementing in the 1.1 update or at minimum 1.2 update. Here are some of the need to have features we’ve identified:

  1. Sorting (expiring first, alphabetical, etc)
  2. Categories (Dairy, Meat, Produce, Cleaning Products, Dry Goods, etc)
  3. Move to Refrigerator (from Pantry) and vice versa
  4. UPC not found notification (will store generic product information, which is often not in a database, so you don’t have to keep typing it in)

We also have a few secret ideas, which will seem obvious once they are implemented, but we want to keep you guessing for a few weeks.

 The Wrap Up

Thank you again for your interest in FreshFridge. We hope you are enjoying the app and would love your feedback. If you want to talk directly with us, please email: hello@freshfridgeapp.com and we’ll get back to you quickly.

Take Care,

Jared, Alex, Ryan, and the FreshFridge Team