The consumer tech industry and its retailers are fending off headwinds to business that include persistent supply-chain disruption, inflation and consumer buying patterns that have been altered by the unrelenting effects of the pandemic. In light of all this, in what ways are you adjusting your retail programs and business strategies to fine-tune them to adequately meet the needs of your dealers?
Dawn Taylor, CRO
There are two overarching trends impacting our consumer technology and appliance clients – manufacturers, retailers, and dealers – due to the pandemic: one [is] the need to move their majority of their product sales online, which is where today’s consumer wants to shop; and two [is] the realization that they must own the entire post-sale customer experience to drive higher customer satisfaction, lifetime value and loyalty.
The pandemic not only forced our clients to shift their business models and resources online, but also to implement systems to drive a cohesive customer experience for their online customers. Seeing this trend evolve, we began to invest heavily in our QuickSuite – a modular set of SaaS platforms, designed to work together at each stage of the post-sale lifecycle. The suite – which includes QuickReg, QuickCover, QuickClaim, QuickInsight and QuickRenew — has won numerous awards, including IMA’s “Best of SaaS Innovation 2021,” Dealerscope’s IMPACT Award 2022, and THE SAMMY Award for Customer Relationship Management 2022.
ALLSTATE PROTECTION PLANS/SQUARETRADE, AN ALLSTATE COMPANY
Wini Hebalkar, Chief Services Officer
In times of uncertainty, our philosophy is to empower customers with choice, offering them service how and when they prefer it so that they can select the best resolution to fit their needs. To do this, we invest in proprietary, technology-enabled operations that helps us create alternate service solutions for customers when supply chain constraints come into play.
This customer-centric approach improves overall satisfaction while reducing escalations for our retailer partners, allowing them to adjust their business practices in response to their own supply constraints and evolving consumer buying patterns.
By providing choice and clear customer communication, Allstate Protection Plans continues to deliver industry-leading satisfaction rates and NPS scores, resulting in continued growth for our business and our partners.
ARCH INSURANCE GROUP
Brian Olson, Vice President, Warranty and Lender Solutions
As retail sales have been challenged, protection plan sales have as well. All of this is affecting retailer profitability. In our eyes, this created enhanced opportunities for us to work closer with our partners on data analysis, trends, and predictive market models on the factors that affect their business — especially when it comes to their back-end profit models. Whether or not our partners are on simple retros, complex reinsurance schemes, varying investment strategies, etc., our risk management model and advanced analytic capabilities have allowed us to spend this time wisely looking for data-driven solutions to maximize partner and retailer profitability.
Jeff Unterreiner, President, US Connected Living
Assurant is enabling our retail partners to offset market headwinds through several solutions. Our proprietary sales optimization program, which continually performs assessments to adjust and adapt retail programs, helps our partners increase attach rates of support and protection programs online and in-store. Assurant is also helping retailers generate revenue from trade-in programs for hearables, wearables and other connected devices. Repairing and refurbishing traded-in products creates new sales opportunities and extends the life of existing products, which reduces pressure on the supply chain and eliminates e-waste. And providing premium tech support to help customers install, connect and get the most out of their products reduces returns, lowers the environmental impact of fuel, packaging, etc., and shrinks the need for replacement products and parts.
Chris Penn, Vice President – Client Services
Centricity always seeks to exceed our dealers’ expectations by developing innovative product protection solutions that create loyal, happy customers. During the past few months, we’ve been extremely creative with our customers providing short-term offerings while they wait for longer term repairs impacted by supply chain issues or delays.
We have also increased communication with our customers, maintaining transparency and setting realistic expectations. In addition, Centricity has expanded our service network with new sources of technicians to increase options for service events, overcoming technician shortages. Working as true partners with our dealers, Centricity continues to build consumer trust and improve customer satisfaction even during the pandemic and post-pandemic era.
Brandon Gell, Founder & CEO
During the pandemic, demand for consumer electronics soared as people sought to make being at home as convenient and comfortable as possible. Consumer choice skyrocketed as brands and search engines responded to the demand, making it easier to find anything online. Manufacturers that once relied mainly on third-party channels are expanding their DTC [direct-to-consumer] presence so they can eliminate supply chain issues, increase revenue and margin, and strengthen customer loyalty.
We’re seeing that dealers want warranty programs that reinforce their loyalty efforts and give customers the features and term lengths they want. Brands with a monthly subscription for services or classes are bundling in product protection so customers stay with them month after month. And as omnichannel grows to include post-purchase, registration flows, and more, brands want to promote product protection everywhere their customers are.
Leigh Mascherin, Vice President of Warranty Sales & Account Management
As the consumer tech industry is buffeted by persistent supply-chain disruption, inflation and altered consumer buying patterns due to the pandemic, we’ve continued to focus on supporting our dealer partners. While these issues remain problematic, they also serve as motivation to purchase a service contract. With inflation increasing prices and supply-chain disruption making repair and replacement challenging, consumers are looking for ways to protect their purchases.
The challenge for us is helping our partners optimize consumer value while retaining the much-needed revenue boost service contracts provide. We’re focused on aligning with our partners to meet their needs and specifically on ensuring all consumers have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with service contracts, whether they are online or in-store.
Kerry Lawless, Vice President of Sales
At Guardsman, our goal is to understand our retail partners’ challenges and offer solutions to help maximize our partners’ profitability. With the current climate retailers face, Guardsman has created solutions that drive post-purchase programs, enhance cash flow, support expanded payment terms, and extended our current product offerings to give our retail partners more tools.
We offer protection plans covering furniture, mattresses, jewelry, sporting goods, electronics and appliances. In addition, we continue to innovate our repair and technician services and offer quick in-home appointments to ensure customers get their eligible products replaced or repaired. Our Number One priority is to support our retail partners and ensure consumer interaction as an opportunity to drive loyalty to our partners’ brand.
ONPOINT WARRANTY SOLUTIONS
Chris Smith, Chief Service Avenger
Supply chain has loosened considerably, but we are still facing delays in shipping while demand is at an all-time high. In some cases, that means promoting scratch and dent and even selling displays to fill consumer needs.
OnPoint has provided programs to cover open, damaged, or floor samples that typically have no warranty at all. We have also accommodated mobile handsets new or used with our Bounce Mobile Handset Protection program which has no deductible and two screen replacements a year.
We also launched electronics service bundles that cover all the CE devices in your home, no matter the age, and this program can be added to monthly billing vehicles for a consistent revenue stream. The great thing about service products is they are never out of stock.
PERSONAL SAFEGUARDS GROUP
Mike Frosch, President
PSG [Personal Safeguards Group] continues to focus on recovering lost margin and enhancing the customer experience for OEMs and retailers by eliminating unnecessary layers and costs. If the OEM or retailer is already managing the customer experience with a replacement or repair program, there is no need to insert a third-party for administration or for integration with the insurance carrier. These unnecessary layers can add as much as 40 percent to the cost of a program versus a direct model. It’s never been easier to take control of a service contract program, maximize the value to the customer and only use third parties for regulatory and insurance solutions.
Michele Gloeckler, Vice President of Sales
The first half of 2022 showed exponential growth for our retailers. However, as we move into the last half of 2022, inflation has hit a four-decade high and created a decrease in spending. Therefore, we are monitoring our partners’ performance, increasing our training efforts, and providing full transparency into data analytics surrounding the products being sold. By providing insight into the protection plan lifecycle, we can analyze top loss manufacturers, reduce parts delays, provide service updates, increase low-performing stores and create an exceptional customer journey. We know that no one can predict the future but at ProtectALL, we maximize every sale, monitor every protection plan product, and provide a happy claims experience which results in higher attachments, better product purchasing and repeat business.
Nancy is a contributing editor for Dealerscope.