How to Select a Message Routing Vendor

12 Questions You Should Ask When Evaluating Message Routing Vendors

When selecting a vendor for message routing, it can be tempting to simply choose one that is the least expensive. However, you need a business partner whose strategic focus, expertise and resources are aligned with your support needs.

A messaging resolution service directly impacts your customers, your staff, and ultimately - your bottom line. Questions to ask yourself when choosing a vendor include:

  • How does your vendor source its data?
  • What is the impact of misrouting my largest client's messages?
  • What if I have questions or problems with routing?

Download all 12 questions you should be considering when selecting your message routing vendor.

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1. Does the vendor reach a global audience?

Acquisition opportunities for new clients often exist outside North America, driving enterprises to target global audiences. Make sure you choose a vendor whose global reach is aligned with your business needs and is set up to expand as your coverage needs evolve.

There are approximately 8.6B phone numbers from 250 countries and territories in the world that are updated daily. Currently, 100 countries (with 4.6B numbers) support number portability, which means telephone numbers are in a constant state of flux. Some vendors do not support ported mobile numbers, resulting in undelivered messages.

2. How does the vendor deliver data?

Some vendors only provide static regional data files that are delivered via FTP. This will put a strain on your operations team to consolidate, coordinate, and refresh these files on a daily basis.

Ideally, your vendor will enable multiple delivery options to meet your needs:

  1. Data is available via a REST API, which allows you to query a central repository on an as-needed basis.
  2. Data is provided via a secure download platform, so your staff can manage tables themselves.

3. How many vendors is my team able to manage? (Many providers only allow you to reach a small subset of countries-how will you reach the rest?)

Managing large datasets is complex and requires dedicated staff to keep portability change data up to date and accurate while resolving discrepancies between providers.

Unless you have a team with extensive domain expertise that can manage multiple vendors, you should consider finding a single vendor that can support your needs. Having a vendor that you can turn to when you encounter discrepancies or want to expand to other geographies will free up time for your team.

4. How does your vendor source their data?

For a given country, it is not uncommon for vendors to use a single data supplier for number plan and port number data. An industry best practice is for a vendor to use multiple sources for each country to ensure resiliency and resolve discrepancies. For example, if a vendor uses a single source for Spain for a real time query and the supplier's network is down, the request will not be able to deliver an accurate response. Look for a vendor that obtains their data from multiple creditable sources.

5. What is the impact of misrouting my largest client's messages?

When messages are misrouted, it means the vendor's data has not been refreshed at the appropriate cadence or not sourced properly. As a result, your company will likely incur higher costs, and your clients' customers will have a poor customer experience.

This is not only an unpleasant conversation to have with an important customer-it also results in subsequent brand damage, putting future revenue in jeopardy. Choose a vendor that has a proven track record of success and avoid the harm of misrouting messages.

6. How often does your vendor update its data?

The best vendors update their data daily to keep pace with numbering plan and portability changes. Unfortunately, many vendor offerings are only updated once per month-confirm the cadence of updates with your vendor.

7. What if I have questions or problems with routing?

Resolving routing discrepancies can be difficult without extensive industry experience. Many vendors are not staffed with multilingual representatives, 24/7 coverage, or industry expertise. Without a trusted business partner, you may be on your own to navigate through this complex ecosystem.

Look for vendors that have the appropriate resources on staff to address your business needs.

8. What is the price?

There are vendors with rock-bottom prices, but you must make sure you're getting the features and the care you require when something goes wrong. In the end, you will save money by selecting a business partner that delivers the product quality and support that your business needs.

9. How do I look at my traffic statistics?

High-quality vendors will provide a web-based customer portal that enables the customer to discover trends and anomalies in the traffic data.

A typical portal provides standard reports that show traffic by operator and geography for a specified time period. You should also have the ability to download data so you can incorporate other data sources into your reports to reconcile invoicing, reduce costs, and improve latency.

10. What disaster recovery measures does the vendor have?

Many vendors will claim to have backup measures in place, but without a clear understanding of what that means, a minor weather event could have a negative impact on your business.

If the vendor's server has a problem, what is the impact to your service? You need a solution that has redundant, geographically diverse sites. This means that if the primary server were to fail, the traffic would seamlessly fail over to the backup server. If the incident (e.g., a natural disaster) impacts an entire region, a server located outside of the affected area would pick up the workload.

11. How does the vendor guarantee uptime? Is it backed by an SLA?

Many vendors will offer uptime claims. Look for one that is willing to share the business risk by including monetary penalties in the contract if they don't deliver.

12. What track record does the vendor have?

  1. Is it affiliated with other brands you trust?
  2. Can it provide reference customers? You want to understand if the vendor promises match the experience of real customers.

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