You sometimes need nerves of steel to read your comments and reviews, even the best intentioned and cutest YouTube kitten video will get  thumbs down from passing trolls. So imagine the earnest responses from folks who have spent their good money and are not happy with your product or simply do not understand your app, there has never been a real easy way to interact with those customers after they leave a blistering review. I have always wanted to be able help, reassure or fix the problems customers are facing, and I have found that mature feedback channels provide the best way to improve reviews and build loyal customers.

When the Zune software was the underlying synch mechanism for Windows Phone I found and documented a really convoluted way to respond to app reviews. Even given this limited mechanism I was able to drastically improve the perception, reliability, function and rating of my apps. Today we received an announcement from the Building Apps for Windows blog confirming that developers will be able to respond directly their customers reviews:

This new capability enables developers to respond to reviews of Windows Phone apps directly from Dev Center. Once you create a response, users will receive the comment via email from Microsoft and can even contact you directly if you included your support email address in the app submission ‘Support email address’ metadata.

At this time, developers will be able to respond to reviews posted from Windows Phone 8.1 devices, as well as reviews posted from any Windows Phone device in the US only.

Please keep in mind users may report developers who abuse this feature through the Report Concern form (accessible also from app details, shown below). If misused, Microsoft will revoke developer access.