Sean Whiteley of GetFeedback: Embracing Mobile for a Better Survey Experience

Most of us are experiencing more and more of our lives by looking at the screens of our mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Which is why GetFeedback designed their online customer survey platform – to make it more appealing, attractive and efficient for users to provide companies with the kind of feedback they’ll need to create better products and services.

GetFeedback Co-Founder, Sean Whiteley, shares with us why it’s more important than ever to create an effective process for collecting information from customers, and the role mobility will play in building the kind of experiences that get people to take your surveys on a regular basis.

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customer survey experienceSmall Business Trends: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your  personal background?

Sean Whiteley: My Co-Founder, Kraig Swensrud, and I founded a company in 2006 called Kieden, which integrated Salesforce CRM and Google AdWords. We were actually the second acquisition that Salesforce had done.

We spent about six years over there in various executive roles at the company doing a breadth of different initiatives in the product and marketing organizations. We’ve started a new company called GetFeedback. Essentially, a new take on the online survey. Surveys built for the world of billions and billions of smartphones.

Small Business Trends: How important is it to get constant, good feedback from your customers today?

Sean Whiteley: Everyone is familiar with surveys. Everyone has taken a survey. Many people have distributed surveys. What a lot of people probably don’t know is that surveys are a $2 billion industry.

The reason it’s a $2 billion industry is that feedback is the lifeblood of a company. It doesn’t matter what kind of company you are. Customer service is going to be important. Being able to get feedback from your customers, from your employees, from your partners, from your ecosystem, it’s vital. It’s how you improve, it’s how you get better. It’s how you know it’s not working and it’s how you know what you need to do better.

Historically, surveys started back in the “Mad Men” era where they had focus groups get in a room. That quickly moved to the telephone. Shortly after that, it moved online. Companies like SurveyMonkey were really disruptive in putting surveys online so people could take them right from their email or in a browser.

But we’ve seen this colossal shift to mobile computing. People refer to it as the “Mobile Era” or the “Post-PC Era.” You’ve probably seen some statistics recently where over half of all emails now are opened on a phone.

It’s on your phone, it’s on your tablet and sometimes, it’s on a computer, too. So, we really think that this shift to mobile is as significant as any of those shifts I spoke out before. The shift from focus groups, to telephones, to online surveys, to mobile. We think that this is as significant a shift.

That was really our main goal with GetFeedback. To build a mobile-optimized survey experience that was easy to use and that anyone could leverage.

Small Business Trends: How does mobility impact the response rates compared to the traditional way of using surveys?

Sean Whiteley: A lot of it comes down to user experience. Many times, I’d like to give somebody some feedback. But I’m not going to sit around and pinch my phone and I’m not going to strain my eyes and move it around and click the tiny little buttons. A lot of people give me these surveys, they may look pretty good in my browser, but if I’m in a cab on my phone or I’m sitting at home watching TV and I happen to be using my iPad, I’m really not going to go that extra mile to give you that response.

Maybe I’ll forward it to my email inbox or the top of my inbox or maybe I’ll get to it when I’m in front of my computer.

You want to provide that experience for somebody that wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, they can actually give you some feedback right then and there. Because what happens when you can take it on any device is – you’re going to get higher response rates.

We did a lot of research when we started this business. We were in awe at the response rates that people had gotten used to. People were talking about getting 2, 3, 4 percent response rates on surveys and we thought that was crazy.

It’s hard enough to get your message in front of somebody. It’s even harder to get something that’s relevant and targeted in front of someone. The last thing you want to do is give them a bad experience.

Once you have them there and have taken the time to read through the content of your survey, you want to make sure that it’s optimized for a good user experience. So, we think people should be getting exponentially higher response rates to their surveys and mobile is a huge piece of that.

The other piece is incorporating rich media content – things like video, photos and images. We all know how engaging these things can be. Look at companies like Snapchat and Facebook and Instagram. We know that photos and video are engaging. We think that you should be able to easily incorporate rich media assets in your surveys.

Small Business Trends: What role does speed play in being able to not just roll this survey out, but to actually take the information and create the services that people are giving you this information for?

Sean Whiteley: Speed is everything. And I think speed is two things.

You talk about page-load times and things like that, of course. But also, people’s attention span on the Web is not what it used to be. I’m sitting in front of my computer right now and I’ve got several windows open. I’ve got Twitter, I’ve got Facebook. I have a chat application. I have a couple of different browsers. I have a bunch of different things open.

Everything is pushing me alerts and updates and the attention span is short. So, we think that going forward, surveys are going to be shorter. They’re going to have to be more engaging and they’re going to have a better experience. At the end of the day, you’re going to get more feedback, which is going to lead to quicker insight.

Small Business Trends: When you think about it, services like yours really are one of the pieces in the puzzle of creating what I call “FAIR” organizations. Fast, Agile, Interactive and Responsive. Having a service like yours is one of the main pieces.

Sean Whiteley: I think Salesforce has done a really good job. They’re a customer of ours. Salesforce has all these fantastic events. Dreamforce, which is, of course, fantastic. And one of the things they’ve gotten really good at is, every time they have an event – and it could be a webinar or it could be something like Dreamforce – they send out a survey right after the event.

What’s great about that is they will incorporate actual imagery and video from the event that the customer was just at. They get them when they’re driving away from the event. Maybe they’re at the airport going back home or maybe they’re in the cab or maybe they’re in their hotel. Or maybe they’re back at their office or maybe they’re at home.

But they hit them when that event is fresh in their mind. It takes them right back to what could have been a couple of hours ago. So, they’re really getting that emotional, very real initial feedback that they need. They incorporate that feedback and they get it to the right people.

Having that real-time feedback mechanism and that consistent feedback loop with their customers is something that they’ve really mastered. And GetFeedback is how they’re doing it.

Small Business Trends: Can you tell us where people can learn more about what you guys are doing over at GetFeedback?

Sean Whiteley: Sure. Go to There are some customer stories there and also a free version.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.


Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.

2 Reactions
  1. True. I am only willing to fill up a survey if it is easy and fast. If it is too complicated, I’ll skip it. If it takes too much time, I’ll skip it as well. I like the fact that he understood where users are coming from.

  2. He’s right, with today’s technology, speed is the key to everything. There is so much competition that being slower than the rest at anything, will make your customers pass you by.