Posts Tagged ‘Uptime’

Delivering excellent and responsive customer service is a top priority for Service Objects, from assigning a dedicated Customer Success Specialist to proactive monitoring and analysis of every account, the Service Objects team ensures maximum uptime while also providing fast and responsive service.

Service Objects Proves Customer Service Reigns Supreme with NPS Score of 65

Hitting a new all-time high for customer service, Service Objects recently earned a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 65, placing the company shoulder-to-shoulder with other tech industry leaders. With a score seven points higher than the industry average, this current achievement marks the fifth consecutive year Service Objects has attained a “best in class ranking.”

“We are proud to hit high marks for the fifth consecutive year, but we won’t rest on our laurels,” said Service Objects Founder and CEO Geoff Grow. “Addressing our customers’ needs and wants will always be a top priority, and we look forward to helping our clients grow and thrive in all their future endeavors.”

Best in Class for 5th Year

The Net Promoter Score measures customer feedback to create a numeric value representing brand loyalty. Difficult to achieve, a top NPS score means a company is held in high regard by clients and usually indicates a strong commitment to customer satisfaction and proactive, solution-focused service.

NPS measures customer satisfaction based on a 200-point scale ranging between -100 and +100, with scores over 50 considered “best in class.” Service Objects has maintained its outstanding rating for the past five years because of its continued commitment to 24/7/365 support, 99.999% server uptime, experience in validating over 3 billion contact records, and in-depth knowledge of the contact validation industry.

NPS and Customer Service: A Powerful Combination

In 2014, Service Objects launched its Customer Success Program with the goal of establishing a set of benchmarks and strategies designed to make sure clients get answers quickly and maximize their investment. Featuring intensive customer support, the Customer Success Program allows customers to become acquainted with their services and get up and running quickly.

From assigning a dedicated Customer Success Specialist to scheduling regular check-ins and initiating proactive monitoring and analysis of every account, Service Objects can ensure maximum uptime while also providing fast and responsive service. From day one, customers have access to ongoing customer support that includes quarterly check-ins, 24/7/365 emergency response, courtesy testing keys, and more.

Client Satisfaction a Top Priority

Service Objects continually measures its NPS score to gain a better understanding of the current level of satisfaction amongst its client base. With a 2018 NPS score of 65, the company has achieved a score higher than the industry average of 58. This latest NPS ranking once again places Service Objects in the top tier of the technology industry, above other well-known companies including Intel (52), Cisco (38), and Spotify (24).

“Delivering excellent and responsive customer service is a top priority for Service Objects,” Grow said. “We instill this belief into every customer touch point. It is rewarding to see our hard work pay off with continued positive customer feedback and a five-year streak of NPS scores that place us amongst the best in the industry.”

 

Service Objects Processes 3 Billion Transactions and Saves 1.6 Million Trees

In March 2018, Service Objects reached a major milestone in the company’s history by validating over 3 billion transactions. Since 2001, Service Objects has enabled businesses located around the world to validate their contacts’ name, location, phone, email address and device against hundreds of authoritative international data sources, all with the goal of reducing waste and fraud.

The fast-paced growth of the company, which has over 2,500 customers such as Amazon, LendingTree, American Express, MasterCard, and Verizon, has been an instrumental part of reaching this record number of transactions. Processing over 3 billion transactions is of particular significance to Service Objects because corporate conservation is one of the reasons the company was founded. The positive impact of achieving this milestone has had on the environment includes:

  • 193 million total pounds of paper saved
  • 6 million trees saved
  • 6 million gallons of oil saved
  • 670 million gallons of water saved
  • 393 million kilowatt hours of energy saved
  • 295 thousand cubic yards of landfill space saved

According to Geoff Grow, Founder and CEO of Service Objects, the idea to start Service Objects came from his desire to apply math and big data to the problem of waste caused by incorrect contact information. Surpassing the 3 billion transaction mark translates into saving 193 million pounds of paper. He would never have dreamed that 16 years ago Service Objects would be able to fulfill its commitment to corporate conservation in such a significant way.

Corporate conservation is embedded in the company’s culture, as evidenced by its commitment to recycling, using highly efficient virtualized servers, using sustainable wind power, purchasing sustainable office supplies, encouraging employees to bike to work and embracing a paperless philosophy. Every employee is conscious of how they can positively impact conservation efforts.

To read the entire Service Objects’ story, click here.

Troubleshooting API Connection Issues

You know what it is like when that new phone doesn’t get a dial tone, or your router isn’t getting an internet signal. In much the same way, connectivity issues are an annoying but common part of implementing web services in your applications software. Whether it is navigating your system’s firewalls, moving from development to production environments, or simply dealing with calling out to an API, few things are as frustrating as troubleshooting a piece of code that should be working but isn’t.

We are here to help. The Applications Engineering team here at Service Objects understands the full range of connection issues, and after 15-plus years in business we’ve seen it all. Between the sample code we’ve written and the support we provide our customers, chances are that we can help you get your application up and running as quickly as possible with the Service Objects’ API of your choice. But first let’s look at some of the most common issues we’ve seen, and how you can troubleshoot them.

Monitoring Tools

Tools like Wireshark and Fiddler can be invaluable when debugging a connection to a web service.  These tools allow you to see all the different network connections that your system is making, and can also allow you to view the information that is being sent to the service.  This can be helpful for cases where you want to see what exactly is being sent to our services. Often these tools can highlight malformed requests, blocks by your firewall or any other odd behavior that is getting in the way of receiving valuable data from one of our APIs.

Firewalls, IP Addresses and Connection Issues

Another issue we see quite frequently is a connection issue when moving a website or application from development to production.  If this happens, and you experience issues connecting to our services, a couple of quick checks can get you pointed in the right direction to debug your application.

First, check if your firewall needs to have IP addresses whitelisted. If it does, reach out to us at support@serviceobjects.com and we will be happy to provide the most up-to-date set of IP addresses that our services utilize. Still having a tough time connecting to our services? Check through a command prompt on the server in question to ensure you can ping our primary (ws.serviceobjects.com) and backup (wsbackup.serviceobjects.com) endpoints. After that, you can perform a trace route to our endpoints to determine if there is any packet loss between your system and ours.

Failover and Service Downtime

A frequent question that we receive about connectivity to our services is what to do if the Service Objects’ API is unreachable.

First, understand that this should normally be an extremely rare event. Our SLA guarantees “five 9” availability, meaning that our services will be available 99.999% of the time. The equates to less than 5 minutes service downtime per year or around 26 seconds of downtime per month. We have several data centers around the country to help provide redundancy to ensure that your data keeps on getting validated in the event that our primary servers are down.

In addition to this, we recommend that you implement a failover call to our web services. What this means is that if our primary endpoint at ws.serviceobjects.com is down or working unexpectedly, your application should call our backup endpoint at wsbackup.serviceobjects.com.  Below is an example of what failover configuration would look like while calling our AV3 service and using C# syntax.

Contacting Service Objects Tech Support

Finally, whether you are just beginning to troubleshoot or are at the end of your rope, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We can assist you in tracking down issues you are encountering.  It always helps if you can provide any relevant information about the problem you are encountering, such as the error message received, inputs that are causing the error, or time that the issue started. This information will help us isolate whether your problem is an issue with our services or an issue on your end.

Whatever your connectivity issues are, Service Objects support is here to help you. We are always happy to speak with you by phone, do a live screen sharing session with you, share tips or troubleshooting steps by email, or help in any way we can. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us anytime, and best of success with your connections!

Protecting Your Investment in Data Validation

Whenever I am in the process of making a new purchase, I do quite a bit of research before I buy. There are many reasons I do the research. I like to know all the technical details and features; satisfy my desire to be as frugal as possible; ensure my money is well spent; and know that I get the best product available at the best price. I know that many other consumers and businesses share the desire to maximize the value of their investment.

We all want to have confidence that we will benefit from our purchases. This is especially true for businesses that are considering purchasing data validation solutions. Throwing some money at cheap solutions or tools can save a business up front, but the direct and indirect costs will grow on an exponential basis when the inferior solution doesn’t work as intended, breaks down, can’t be fixed for a long while, or is unexpectedly unavailable.

Since 2001, Service Objects has prided ourselves on having the best solutions available that provide a full suite of features and benefits. We make sure that we protect your investment in data validation.  Below are just some of the reasons why we have the best service available.

Top Notch Availability

We stand by our commitment to have our services available whenever they are needed. That’s why we have implemented the industry’s only financially backed Service Level Agreement. That means that we promise to have our services provide an uptime of 99.999% availability.  We measure this percentage of availability on a monthly basis. Achieving 99.999% uptime over a month means that our services won’t be down for more than 30 seconds. We implement failovers, backups and many other things to help ensure that we meet this uptime availability.  If we do not, then our customers are eligible to receive service credit based on the unavailability provided.

Fanatic Customer Support

Customer support excellence is one our core values. We have a capable and eager team of people whose goal is to provide the best support available. Whether it’s a question about your account, maximizing the value of the results from our APIs, or any other customer service issues, we are standing by to help in any way that we can.

24/7 Emergency Support

We understand that when your business is experiencing technical issues it can impact your customers. So along with our traditional support, we also offer after hours support options for any issues that may occur during non-traditional office hours. No matter what time it is, we’ll assist with whatever issue you are encountering.  Simply call our office line and follow the prompts to the access the emergency support line.

Custom Solutions

One of the things that we pride ourselves on is the ability to be flexible with the solutions that we provide. On many occasions, we have implemented product improvements that have arisen when customers tell us what new features they are looking for. Service Objects prides ourselves on being flexible enough to pivot to the needs that our customers have. If you have some custom need, just ask! We’d be happy to look into the feasibility of your request.

The Struggles with Deprecated Services

The word “deprecated” is thrown around frequently in the software development world. It is used to indicate a product or service that is either not going to continue being maintained or it is going to be sunsetted. Often times, when companies roll out a new product or API they decide to give their users a heads up that the older operations are going to be deprecated. This prompts the users to update to the latest version to take advantage of the latest and greatest features that the company is offering.

Marking a service to be deprecated is a warning to the users of the product or service that it will no longer be supported and it is highly recommended to upgrade to a newer, supported service.  Here at Service Objects, we don’t particularly like the practice of deprecating services.  Although we don’t rule it out completely, our mission is to maintain support for our legacy services. This is because we understand that it takes time, resources, and money to integrate with APIs. The time it takes for developers to integrate, test, and deploy new code inevitably costs money. To help solve the issue of legacy services falling behind the advancements, we keep our core code separate from the individual service outputs. A fixed set of output fields enables us to provide our clients with peace of mind that the service they have invested their time and resources into won’t change beneath their feet.

A clear picture of this concept can be seen in our DOTS Address Validation services. We have DOTS Address Validation 1, 2 and 3. The 3rd iteration is currently our primary and most robust address validation service yet. It has the latest and greatest in terms of available output fields. Even though Address Validation 3  is our latest version of our address services, both DOTS Address Validation 1 and 2 are actively supported.

The reason we are able to maintain these is due to the fact that the share a core address validation code set, which is continuously refined to return the most accurate and up to date data available.

By choosing our services, you can rest assured that the service you integrate will not be left to be put out to pasture in the future  and will continue to push to provide you with the best data, regardless of which version of the service you are using.

We invite you to get started testing any of our 23 data quality services today.

Service Objects Announces Record Breaking Number of Transactions Processed on Cyber Monday 2017

Cyber Monday 2017 was a busy day for many online retailers, including Service Objects. We were so busy, in fact, that we processed a record number of contact data validation transactions. Looking at the online shopping stats, we shouldn’t be surprised. According to numbers released by Adobe Insights, shoppers spent 16.8% more in 2017 than on Cyber Monday 2016, setting a new online record of $6.6 billion in sales.  The mobile sales record was also surpassed, reaching $2 billion over a 24-hour period.

So why did Service Objects’ break our own record? Because our contact validation services play a vital role in the online shopping process for many merchants.  We enable retailers to verify that an individual’s contact information is genuine, accurate and up-to-date. In addition, by validating a person’s name, address, phone number, email and device, businesses significantly increase package delivery rates and considerably increase their ability to detect fraudulent transactions.

In fact, some of the largest retailers in the world use Service Objects’ real-time contact validation services. While consumers were busy breaking sales number records on Cyber Monday, Service Objects’ customers processed over a million more transactions on that day than previous years, making it the largest day in our history.

And we see this trend continuing. As online shopping continues to capture a larger percentage of retailers’ overall sales every year, Service Objects will play a vital role in ecommerce by providing the ability for merchants to validate and clean their customer contact data against hundreds of authoritative data sources – all in a blink of an eye. It also doesn’t hurt that we have a 99.999% server uptime guarantee, unlimited no cost technical support and bank grade transaction security.

For more information or to test any one of Service Objects’ 23 contact validation solutions, please visit https://www.serviceobjects.com/products.

Service Objects integrations can help improve your contact data quality, help with data validation, and enhance your business operations.

Follow This Checklist to Ensure a Smooth API Integration

There can be a lot of “i’s” to dot and “t’s” to cross when integrating with any API.  Here at Service Objects, we certainly recognize there can be a lot on the to-do list when starting an integration project. Integrating with our APIs is pretty straight forward, but we have developed a quick checklist that will ensure it is as easy as possible to follow our best practices.

Failover, Failover, Failover
Service Objects prides ourselves as having 99.999% server uptime. However, in the unlikely event that we do experience an issue with one of our servers, implementing a failover configuration is arguably the most important aspect of integrating with any of our APIs. Proper failover configuration will ensure that your application continues to operate unhindered in an event that the primary Service Objects web server is unavailable or not responding as expected. Below is an example (using C# syntax) of proper failover configuration.

The example above is for our DOTS Address Validation 3 – US service, but this scenario will be relatively similar for our other services. The main thing to note is that the primary call is pointed towards ws.serviceobjects.com and the backup call within the catch statement is pointed to wsbackup.serviceobjects.com.  In the event that the primary web server is unresponsive, producing strange errors or behaving abnormally, then the backup URL will be called and your application will continue to function as expected.  Another important item to note is that proper failover will check the web service for an error response with a TypeCode of 3. This indicates that a fatal error has occurred in the web service and that the backup URL should be called. If you are using one of our older services, then the error object that service will return may be different (there will be only “Number” and “Desc” fields present in the Error object) and you will need to check for a Number value of 4 to indicate a fatal error.

URL Encoding

Properly encoding the URL you are using is also an item you will want to place on your to-do list for integration. If you are using a path parameter to access our services, then you’ll need to use what’s called RFC3986 encoding to encode your URLs. If you are using query string parameters to hit our services, then you can use the RFC3986 encoding or the older RCF2396 encoding. What do both of those RFC standards mean? Well in short, if you are using a query string URL, spaces can be acceptably replaced with “+” in the URL. If you’re using a path parameter URL, then spaces will have to be encoded with its hex equivalent %20. Using the RFC3986 standard encoding is generally the safer bet since it is the most accepted and newest.

Logging (we’re not talking cutting down trees)

We also highly recommend implementing some code that will log the requests and responses that our services provide. For the sake of customer privacy, we do not log information on our end. Logging can be a big help when troubleshooting your code. It can also be a big help to us if you ever need technical support. Since we do not log customer requests, it is very helpful for us to have the exact inputs or URL used when contacting our services. This will allow us to provide the stellar customer support that comes with integrating with a Service Objects’ API. If you do run into any issues, please send us your request and response as this will help us get to the bottom of whatever issue you are encountering as quickly as possible.

Null or Nothing Strings
Our output structure for most of our services is consistent and won’t change without notice.  For the most part, our structure will stay the same and we’ll return the elements in our output structure as blank strings as opposed to null objects. That being said, we still highly recommend that your application performs null checks before using the response or any of the nested elements from our service. Even though the output structure for our services is very consistent, appropriately null checking our response can save you and your application a lot of headaches if something unexpected occurs.

URLs, IP Addresses and Whitelisting
Some clients or prospects will ask us if they can access our web services by IP address or whitelist the IP address in their firewall. Well, you certainly can, but we highly recommend whitelisting or hitting our web service by the domain URL. Most modern firewalls will support whitelisting domains by names and we highly recommend utilizing this. The reason being that IP addresses can and will change. We have a lot of backups and redundancy set up in our web services that will go unnoticed if you are accessing the service via a domain. If you absolutely need to hit our service by IP address or whitelist them like that, please reach out to our support team and we will be happy to make recommendations on best practices and provide you the information you will need.

Use Cases
If you are curious to know if you are understanding the results correctly or want to know if you are using the right operation to get the functionality you want, our developer guides can help provide more clarity about certain inputs and outputs from the service of choice.

Summary
As discussed, integrating with any API can bring up a lot of questions. If this list didn’t cover your questions or particular use case, please feel free to send your requests or questions to support@serviceobjects.com and we will be happy to help you get up and running with any of our 24 data validation APIs.

Service Objects’ Average Response Time Ranks Higher Than Google…

When comparing SaaS providers, one of the key metrics that is often measured is the service response time. That response time, or latency, is a succinct measurement of the approximate time it will take for a response to be returned for a given query. Often, the major challenge in reducing response time is determining which service component is adding latency. At Service Objects, we are continually scrutinizing application optimization, network congestion, and monitoring real-time, real-world API calls to ensure our SaaS response times are second to none.

Our goal is to exceed availability and response times in our industry as a SaaS provider. We’ve invested in bank grade infrastructure and security, with data centers operating throughout the US. All of our databases are operating on the latest flash storage technology, returning query responses in less than 0.1s, and we are constantly enhancing and expanding our web server application pools. Bundle all of that with robust VMware clusters, multiple layers of network redundancy, and one of the industry’s only financially back service level agreements of 99.999% uptime and the result: we don’t just achieve industry standard availability and response times, we’ve raised the bar.

Third-party monitoring providers have ranked many of our DOTS Web Services average response times within the same echelon as leading tech companies, such as Apple and Google. In many cases, we are better than some of the biggest and well-known technology companies. Just how fast are we? If you are connecting from Los Angeles, our DOTS Address Validation service hosted in San Jose, CA boasts an incredible 0.089s response time. If your business is connecting from New York, we have you covered, with a lightning fast average response time of 0.27s from our New Jersey data center.

Service Objects recognizes how important it is to our customers to have little to no downtime. We are so committed to achieving this goal that we made Outstanding Network Performance one of our Core Values. We are continually monitoring our servers and measuring our response times, and as the graphic below illustrates, the results speak for themselves.

 

We’ve Raised the Bar to a 99.999% Uptime Guarantee

For many years, we’ve provided a Service Level Agreement with 99.995% availability guaranteed. This equates to less than 26 minutes of downtime annually, or less than 2 minutes and 11 seconds monthly. We’ve consistently achieved and exceeded this promise to our customers year after year, but wanted to take this commitment up a notch…

We’re excited to announce that we increased our Service Level Agreement to a 99.999% uptime guarantee, equating to less than 5 minutes of service downtime annually, or less than 26 seconds monthly!

What is a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

SLAs make use of the knowledge of enterprise capacity demands, peak periods, and standard usage baselines to compose the enforceable and measurable outsourcing agreement between vendor and client. As such, an effective SLA will reflect goals for greater performance and capacity; productivity; flexibility and availability; and standardization.

At the same time, an SLA should set the stage for meeting or surpassing business and technology service levels, while identifying any gaps currently being experienced in the achievement of service levels.

SLAs capture the business objectives and define how success will be measured, and are ideally structured to evolve with the customer’s foreseeable needs. The right approach to SLAs result in agreements that are distinguished by clear, simple language, a tight focus on business objectives, and ones that consider the dynamic nature of business to ensure evolving needs will be met.

How We Do It

Redundancy
Multiple data centers provide redundancy by using redundant components, systems, subsystems, or facilities to counter inevitable failures or disruptions. Our servers operate in a virtualized environment, each utilizing multiple power supplies and redundant storage-arrays. Our firewalls and load-balancing appliances are configured in pairs, leveraging proven high-availability protocols, allowing for instantaneous fail-over.

Compliance
Compliance is an important benefit of professional data centers. In today’s business climate, data often falls under government or industry protection and retention regulations such as SSAE 16 standards, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Compliance is challenging without dedicated staff and resources. With the third party data center model, you can take advantage of the data center’s existing compliance and audit capabilities without having to invest in technology, dedicated staff, or training.

Data Security & Management
We’ve invested in “bank grade” security. Several of our data centers are guarded by five layers of security, including retinal scanners. All systems are constantly monitored and actively managed by our data center providers — both from a data security and a performance perspective. In addition, we operate our own in-house alerting and monitoring suites.

Geographic Load Balancing
Another key factor for ensuring uptime has to do with geographic load balancing and fail-over design. Geographic load balancing involves directing web traffic to different servers or data centers based on users’ geographic locations. This can optimize performance, allow for the delivery of custom content to users in a specific region, or provide additional fail-over capabilities.

Ensuring a high level of uptime comes down to: redundancy and resiliency, compliance, geographic load balancing, great data security, and 24/7 monitoring. All of these factors are equally important and contribute to our 99.999% uptime results — guaranteed!