On building an automated responding system for app reviews: What are the characteristics of reviews and their responses?
Recent studies showed that the dialogs between app developers and app users on app stores are important to increase user satisfaction and app’s overall ratings. However, the large volume of reviews and the limitation of resources discourage app developers from engaging with customers through this channel. One solution to this problem is to develop an Automated Responding System for developers to respond to app reviews in a manner that is most similar to a human response. Toward designing such system, we have conducted an empirical study of the characteristics of mobile apps’ reviews and their human-written responses. We found that an app reviews can have multiple fragments at sentence level with different topics and intentions. Similarly, a response also can be divided into multiple fragments with unique intentions to answer certain parts of their review (e.g., complaints, requests, or information seeking). We have also identified several characteristics of review (rating, topics, intentions, quantitative text feature) that can be used to rank review by their priority of need for response. In addition, we identified the degree of re-usability of past responses is based on their context (single app, apps of the same category, and their common features). Last but not least, a responses can be reused in another review if some parts of it can be replaced by a placeholder that is either a named-entity or a hyperlink. Based on those findings, we discuss the implications of developing an Automated Responding System to help mobile apps’ developers write the responses for users reviews more effectively.