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Warranty Cos. Add New Programs, Services

TWICE: What new products or services have you introduced for retailers or consumers?

Dawn Morris, general manager, Bankers Warranty Group: BWG has launched a new cracked-screen repair program for cellphones. The new repair program offers a unique benefit to consumers who are concerned about losing the content of a device if it is damaged and has to be replaced. This program provides repair service instead of replacement when the only issue is a cracked screen or damage to the backing of the device.

We have also created the BWG “BYOD” program. The “bring your own device” program provides customers with the ultimate freedom — if they purchase an accessory for their device, BWG can offer an extended- service plan for the device connected to the accessory. Whether they purchased the device through that retailer or not, the BYOD program provides our dealers with an additional revenue stream and complete customer satisfaction.

Sean Hicks, CEO, New Leaf Service Contracts: Several new things are happening at New Leaf. In August we announced our partnership with Plant It 2020. When our dealers sell contracts we donate money to the Plant It 2020 organization to plant trees. It is a great corporate giving program that ties in with our theme of renewal. New Leaf is going to renew the service contract industry, and Plant It 2020 is renewing the environment.

Our dealers get to advertise their connection to the program, which provides additional messaging for their market and calls attention to their involvement with saving our environment.

In November New Leaf is moving to a new corporate headquarters. We have been successful and need more space to handle our growing business. The new location will be double the square footage over our current location and should keep us for the next three to five years.

From a product standpoint we have seen some great success with our “50% Back Guarantee,” in which we’ll give a customer back half the contract’s purchase price in store credit if no service calls or paid claims are made.

We have also launched replacement plans up to $1,000, and will be launching a whole new benefit package for our contracts in early 2014.

Chuck Stewart, client services and business development senior VP, NEW: Asurion, our parent company, was honored with the 2013 North American Frost & Sullivan Customer Value Leadership Award. This award exemplifies our core passion and unrelenting belief that our products and services must deliver a superior experience that drives consumer satisfaction and loyalty back to our clients. According to research done by InfoQuest, a totally satisfied consumer contributed 2.6 times the annual revenue than that of a somewhat-satisfied customer and 14 times the revenue of a somewhat dissatisfied consumer. That’s what we are in business to do: deliver satisfaction to our customers, increasing loyalty back to our clients.

Charles Pipia, president, Global Warranty Group: We are proud to introduce the product payment program, a lease purchase plan that provides the customer an opportunity to finance their product purchase with convenient monthly payments. The program is readily available for consumer electronics, appliances and wireless devices, and drives sales increases of 15 to 20 percent and increased sales of higher-end product. It also attracts new cost-conscious customers and builds strong customer loyalty.

Ty Shay, chief marketing officer, SquareTrade: We just launched our Protect My Phone program last month. It’s the industry’s first easily downloadable app which protects any iPhone regardless of how old or new it is. We’ll also announce SquareTrade Rewards in October, the first time protection plan customers will earn rewards for their purchases and for their safe behavior with their devices. Both of these programs push innovation in the category to a new level, and we’re excited to get feedback from customers.

Jim Mostofi, president, AIG Warranty: We have launched several large, globally unified programs for large multinationals in 2013, offering the world’s largest brands the opportunity to promote a single, unified warranty program throughout the world. Our global programs provide, in a common currency, unified analysis of program performance, unified sales processes, and unified terms and conditions, which allows for consistent global marketing campaigns. Our global unity programs also simplify the implementation of a consistent global service strategy.

We also enhanced our mobile service contract capabilities, and our operations facility in Jeffersonville, Ind., has expanded and is now administering service contracts for approximately 60 million active contracts.

Sean Stapleton, president/CEO, Warrantech: We are excited to unveil our newest service innovation which is designed to give online shoppers white glove assistance services and information regarding their recent purchase and can be used as a platform to make extended-service contracts available to the customer.

Stacey Vogler, marketing and product development VP, Assurant Solutions: We recently created a mobile triage solution that gives consumers the ability to troubleshoot and repair common problems with their mobile devices, including identifying and uninstalling malware. Our Stevie-award winning innovation also features a mobile client that detects pending problems and offers proactive alerts so action can be taken before problems emerge.

Also, major retailers, manufacturers and dealers must transfer thousands of customer records from one system to another when choosing a new plan administrator. To minimize this implementation pain point, we designed a creative solution that eases the transition and gets client programs up and running quickly and efficiently, without the need for IT intervention. Our industry- first Data Transaction Manager (DTM) transfers client data files into the desired format automatically, manipulating data by extracting and populating the relevant information needed to run the client’s program. The result is more efficient and effective data transfer and implementations in a third of the time. DTM was nominated for a Novarica Research Council Impact Award for IT best practices in the insurance industry.

We also recently partnered with several global mobile carriers to provide millions of eligible customers with product protection. And our commitment to protection extends beyond just the device: When protection such as data backup and security is offered, consumers are more willing to engage in mobile financial transactions, including in-store purchases, online banking, bill payments and online purchases. That brings value to the consumer and our clients.

Mike Frosch, principal, Personal Safeguards Group: PSG has been very active recently with a great deal of focus in three areas. First, we offer program reviews for clients looking to take customer care components of their extended- warranty programs in house. In these cases the retailer or manufacturer wants to take control of their customer’s experience related to receiving service. The consumer has the same experience under the factory warranty or the extended warranty and the retailer ensures the best experience for their valuable customer. We then work with the retailer to find the right insurance underwriter to allow them to transfer the risk, but not the customer experience.

Product enhancements also continue to be a focus area for PSG. As one example of integrating new benefits into extended-service contracts, we have recently launched a virus-removal product that can be embedded into a service contract. When a customer buys an extended warranty on a computer they just want it fixed if it is broken, and a computer with a virus can be just as useless as one that won’t boot up due to hardware issues.

We have also seen a great deal of interest in putting together robust aftermarket extended-warranty solutions. Fewer customers buy a warranty at point-of- sale than do, and online delivers even lower attachment rates. PSG has a fully integrated solution that brings together registration, data analytics, email and direct mail solicitation, and sales processing for retailers and manufacturers. You need a multi-point approach to aftermarket, but when properly structured there is no cost to the retailer or manufacturer and they receive a commission for all sales. PSG’s solution works with any warranty provider’s offering so the customer offer and experience is consistent.

David Anderson, Protect Your Bubble: As consumers gear up for the holiday shopping season, Protect Your Bubble is also gearing up to welcome them with a new look for our website and mobile sites this month. We will also be promoting great deals on protection programs for Christmas shoppers. We want consumers to find our site more informative and even faster and easier to buy protection. We believe that our new site will help consumers to better assess the value of third-party protection programs as they seek the best way to protect their new devices and appliances.