As our Operations Director Sandy Burt said in our end of year review blog post, cheap SMS providers are popping up and disappearing more quickly than ever. It’s simple and easy for someone to create a website, hook-up to a cheap SMS provider and resell their services to people looking to get a great deal on SMS messaging. The technology aspect is surprisingly simple this way. That’s assuming you don’t care about messages actually getting delivered, or having the knowledge to offer support when things go wrong (which they will).
But how is a consumer or business to know if the SMS provider they found is good or if they’ll take your money and run? There are lots of things you need to research before choosing a provider, but the following three questions are important ones to help weed out the unreliable ones.
1. How long have they been in business?
With all the buzz about successful Internet start-up companies, you might think that a new SMS company is a good thing. But that isn’t the case. Since it’s so easy to slap up a website and sell things in relative anonymity, it’s actually the first red flag you should look for in your research. Don’t just take the company’s “About” page for granted either. Look the company up online to make sure it’s a legal entity in the UK and find their status. If you can’t find them, or it looks dodgy, then it’s best to keep looking.
There might be some cases when you’ll find a company with a long history of Internet or communications services, but they just started offering SMS messaging. So the company might be strong and reliable, but if they are new to SMS messaging you may want to dig deeper to find out what experience they have and what support they can really offer in such a new endeavour.
2. What testimonials do they have?
Testimonials are one of the best, and the worst, ways to evaluate a business. In marketing they are considered one of the strongest forms of credibility a company can provide. That’s assuming they’re true. Anyone can write up a quick quote and put it up on their website claiming it was from a satisfied customer. Or they can write a dozen, or a hundred.
Great testimonials will have attribution, ideally to a single individual, with a company name if there is one. That way, it’s something you could check if you really wanted to – and that’s how it builds credibility: it can be verified. But that degree of specificity isn’t always practical or allowed. Every company has different rules about using their name when endorsing a company or service. And often individuals have issues using a full name for privacy reasons. So a good testimonial will have as much of that information as possible. And the content should make sense and feel like it is “real”.
Still, it’s possible to fake it all. So you’ll need to ask the next question too.
3. What is their independent rating?
Where testimonials are provided by the company you’re looking at, independent ratings are calculated from real customers input. They are usually short surveys filled out on a third party website. The data is then reviewed, calculated, and presented by that third party for the SMS provider (or any company that uses their services).
For example, fastsms uses Feefo. After making a purchase on an account, customers are sent a link to the survey from Feefo. The customer can choose to fill it out or not. If they do, then Feefo records their feedback and adds it to the rest of the fastsms data. You can see our ranking at the top of every webpage on our site, but that’s just a widget that displays the data from Feefo.
Since the source of the data is independent from our company, you can consider it more valid than even testimonials. But it can back up testimonials if the ratings and comments are similar. Of course there are other companies than Feefo so check to see if the SMS providers you are researching also use any independent ratings. If they don’t it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad, but you’ll have to take everything else in context before deciding whether they are a reputable and reliable company.
If you want more help on choosing an SMS provider, download our Buyers Guide that contains nine more questions to help you choose the right provider for you.