Buzzbeeper Uses Twilio to Help Businesses Understand What Their Customers Think

May 13, 2011
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Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

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Pardner Wynn
Buzzbeeper is a new, easy-to-use service that actively helps businesses find out what their customers think about them, giving them better control over their brand and reputation. Customers can provide simple ratings via voice and SMS (powered by Twilio), which are displayed in real time for staff to see and respond to if needed. Here’s what Pardner Wynn, founder of Buzzbeeper, had to say about his experience.

What’s the back story of your application? What problem were you trying to solve?

I was in a restaurant last year and when they brought the check there was a piece of paper that said “When you get home please give us a good review,” and I thought, “It’s a great idea to ask for feedback, but as soon as people walk out the door it’s ‘out of sight out of mind’ so I bet they get less than 1% follow-through. They need to give people with a cell phone an easy way to provide feedback while they are sitting here, including a way to push a good review to Yelp, etc.” So I called my buddy Dave, who was also my co-founder at a company we took public a while back, not to mention an engineering classmate at Stanford, and that’s how it all started.

One of our first decisions was to keep it “short and sweet” for end users. We’ve all seen those invitations to answer a survey that are printed on a restaurant receipt. What they describe as ‘a short survey’ turns into a ridiculously long time sink. Done right, a survey should leave the customer happier than when they started, and most surveys do the opposite. We keep it quick so as not to take advantage of their goodwill.

How are things going with Buzzbeeper now?

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We’re just now launching publicly, but early indications from pre-launch customer deployments are good. Our client stores value the real-time, broad sample of their customers’ experiences that allow them to keep a finger on the real-time pulse of their customers. That’s made possible by giving people such an easy and fast way to rate their experience.

What technologies did you use?

The usual suspects…Heroku, Twilio, Amazon S3, caffeine.

How was the experience of integrating Twilio?

Having done several telephony projects using older technologies a few years ago, I was dreading it. But things have changed very much for the better! We architected our system to be fairly platform neutral, then incorporated support for several platforms so we could run side-by-side tests. Integrating Twilio went smoothly- very good docs, quite a few useful sample apps, and the tech support was amazing (still is). It was remarkable that nearly every time we asked ourselves “I wonder if there’s a way to do X” we’d find an API call for it.

The side-by-side tests we did clearly demonstrated Twilio has a superior architecture when it comes to ensuring reliable message delivery. For example, a lot of developers might underestimate the value of Twilio’s built-in outbound queuing- there are platforms out there that silently drop your messages if you exceed a certain sending rate, that provide no handshaking whatsoever to help your app avoid that.

You’ve done a few startups, and two IPOs. Any parting advice?

Fly low and flap hard.

In addition to incorporating Twilio into Buzzbeeper, Pardner has used our API for other projects, even our Twimlets. For our readers who haven’t used Twimlets yet (or even for seasoned Twimlets veterans), Pardner wrote a great blog post on how to use them. Twimlets are tiny web applications that implement basic voice and SMS functionality. Think of them as Twilio “widgets” in the web world. It’s a very detailed step-by-step tutorial with pictures, so check out the great Twimlets tutorial that Pardner wrote on his blog!