10. Is it easy to manage your account? Can you easily check the number of credits or SMS messages left in your account?

Most SMS gateway providers provide a web-based account management system. The basic functions of the account management systems provided by different SMS gateway providers are more or less the same. For example, most of them allow you to check the number of credits/SMS messages left in your account and buy new credits/SMS messages online. The difference is in ease of use. Some SMS gateway providers offer an account management system that is easy to use and learn. The user interface is clean and intuitive. The menu items are well organized. Plenty of hints and tips are available. Some wizards are provided to guide users through a process step by step. These features help you work more efficient and make fewer errors.

Some SMS gateway providers' account management system supports more features than the others. Here are some examples:

  • Access via HTTPS (HTTP + SSL encryption). Some account management systems are accessible via HTTPS. With an HTTPS connection, the data transmitted between your computer and the web server over the Internet is encrypted. So, your data (for example, the user name and password you entered in the login page) is protected from eavesdropping.

  • IP locking. Some account management systems allow you to associate a few IP addresses to your account. Only computers with those IP addresses can send or receive SMS messages via the SMS gateway provider. This feature enhances your account's security.

  • Low credits/SMS messages alert. Some account management systems will send a text message to the email address or mobile phone number you specified when the number of remaining credits/SMS messages in your account is lower than a certain value.

  • Detailed reports. Some account management systems provide detailed reports of the SMS messages sent and received. You can request reports of a certain day or date range. The reports usually include fields such as the total number of SMS message sent or received, the date and time that an individual SMS message was sent or received, and the originating/recipient mobile phone number. Some account management systems also allow you to download a report as a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file or Microsoft Excel file, which can be imported into a spreadsheet program to do things such as generating charts from the data.

  • Sub users management. Some account management systems allow you to add sub users to your account. You and the sub users share the same account but they use their own user name and password. You, as the administrator, can view reports of the SMS messages sent and received by a certain sub user. The ability to add sub users is particularly useful to large companies where many applications or staff members need to send or receive SMS messages.

  • SMS message routing options. Some SMS gateway providers offer several message routing options that can be set or changed with their account management system. For example, an SMS gateway provider might allow you to specify:

    • whether to route SMS messages at a certain cost (sometimes you may not want to allow your staff members to send SMS messages to destinations that cost too many credits),

    • whether to route SMS messages to a certain destination (suppose your company sets up an SMS messaging system for staff members to contact clients in the UK, you may want to disable the sending of SMS messages to other countries),

    • which network to route SMS messages through (do you want to route SMS messages through more reliable but more expensive networks, or less reliable but cheaper networks?).

11. Does the SMS gateway provider provide any free SMS messages for testing?

Needless to say, you must test an SMS gateway thoroughly before you can know whether it is suitable for your SMS application. As mentioned earlier, you should test whether you can successfully send SMS messages to or receive SMS messages from your targeted countries, mobile operators or mobile phone numbers through the SMS gateway provider. You should also test the SMS gateway provider's network quality.

It will be great if the SMS gateway provider provides some free SMS messages for testing. However, it won't cost you too much even if you pay for the testing SMS messages yourself, suppose that the SMS gateway provider does not require a minimum purchase of, say, 100,000 SMS messages.

12. Does your SMS application require 2-way SMS messaging services?

SMS messaging services can be grouped into two categories: 1-way and 2-way. 1-way SMS messaging services allow you to send SMS messages, while 2-way SMS messaging services allow you to send and receive SMS messages. All SMS gateway providers provide 1-way SMS messaging services. However, only some of them provide 2-way SMS messaging services. The reason is that it is technically more difficult for an SMS gateway provider to enable its users to receive SMS messages than to send SMS messages.

13. How good is the SMS gateway provider's support service?

A good SMS gateway provider should have a support team that has a complete understanding of its system. The team members should be able to answer and tackle all sorts of questions and problems. In particular, they should be familiar with compatibility issues related to different mobile network operators. The support service's quality is a reflection of the company's quality. To find out how good an SMS gateway provider's support service is, one way is to email a question to the support team. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do they reply?

  • How long does it take for them to reply?

  • Does the reply answer your question well?

  • Are they familiar with the topic?

  • Ask some follow-up questions. Do they have patience? Does the reply answer your question well?

Most SMS gateway providers provide support service by email. If you prefer telephone support service, you should choose an SMS gateway provider that provides a customer support phone number.

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