A Holistic Approach To Warranty And Service Contract Claims

By: Global Administrator

October 30, 2013

The Fourth Annual Extended Warranty & Service Contract Innovations Conference recently took place in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the major topics covered was the industry’s image problem. Warranty Week was there to cover the event and submitted an article regarding Warrantech’s involvement. The following is an excerpt.

Sean Stapleton, president & CEO of Warrantech Corp., part of The Amynta Group, also spoke at the conference last week.

His presentation in Nashville, entitled "A Holistic Approach to Warranty & Service Contract Administration," looked at a service call not only as an opportunity to fix a broken product, but also as an opportunity to cement a relationship with the customer.

"How the service provider responds to a claim will drive the customer's perspective about the underlying failure," he said. If it goes well, the customer will have a higher level of satisfaction than even cases where there was no claim.

Escalate It

Stapleton said service contract providers should never let the customer forget why they bought the coverage. In fact, he suggested that in cases where the customer's product failed soon after it was purchased, the service provider should really make a fuss about it.

Maybe an early failure requires a response with a heightened service level, and a heightened sense of urgency? Maybe the failed product should be replaced with an upgraded unit and a sincere apology? Or maybe it's just a matter of giving the customer a gift card, as some sort of compensation for their troubles?

Stapleton also suggested that service providers have to acknowledge that some of their social media activities need to go beyond just marketing, into actual problem resolution. And that can get tricky, because a service contract company such as Warrantech is really operating behind the scenes, supporting their retail and OEM clients and the brands they sell and manufacture.

For instance, a manufacturer or a retailer may post items to Facebook, and a disgruntled consumer may see one of those posts and take the opportunity to voice a complaint about a repair gone bad. Others see the complaint and add their own comments, and soon it's hundreds of follow-up comments that have nothing to do with the original post. The longer it sits there unresolved, the more abuse it attracts.

Alternatively, let's say there's a complaint, and soon there's a response from the company, and the problem is resolved. People read that and note the quick response, and they begin to form an image of the brand based upon its ability to respond quickly to problems.

Imagine, for instance, it's the lonely Maytag repairman, who seemingly has nothing better to do than to monitor the appliance company's Facebook page. When someone complains, there's nothing more urgent in the world than fixing that problem. And the conversation is there for all current and future customers to read.

Brand Image Protection

That can turn out to be even more important a service for an administrator to provide than it is to operate a massive 24-x-7 call center that responds to complaints over the phone. For while a phone call is private, a Facebook thread is public for all to see, much like an advertisement run on television.

"I'm a huge advocate of using your partner's brand versus building our own brand," Stapleton said. "We're the guy behind the scenes."

Another attendee wondered how that would work, since it would require the administrator to essentially speak in the name of the retailer or manufacturer.

"It’s their brand you’re messing with," he suggested.

"No," Stapleton responded, "it’s their brand we’re protecting."

Visit our blog frequently to keep up with the latest industry news and company updates. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so you can learn more about our innovative products and services.

Filed Under: customer, Financial, Sean, service, Stapleton, Warrantech

Get Ready. Fall Car Care Month Is Here.

By: Global Administrator

October 11, 2013

October is Fall Car Care Month. The milder temperatures make this the perfect time of year to get out and make sure your car is road ready. After all, you don’t want to wait until a blustery winter sets in, do you?

Even more important to consider, AAA regularly anticipates coming to the aid of more than one million stranded motorists during the year-end holiday season. This can really put a damper on your holiday spirit when you consider that most of these emergencies are highly preventable. Some of the more common problems involve:

  • Dead or corrosive batteries
  • Tires with excessive wear
  • Damaged brake systems that aren’t equipped to deal with wet and icy road conditions
  • Limited vision due to worn wiperblades, low windshield washer fluid and defrosters that aren’t working properly

Alarmingly, a recent report by the Car Care Council shows that three out of four cars, roughly 77 percent, are currently in some need of service or repair. As you can see from the accompanying infographic, engine oil is the top culprit when it comes to vehicle trouble, followed closely by engine coolant. Brake, steering, and transmission fluids are also important to the performance or your automobile and should be checked regularly.

Eventually, of course, all cars require routine maintenance and service. A vehicle service contract (VSC) is a great way to plan for this inevitability and could save you time and money. In fact, a VSC can provide you with several value-added extras such as discounts on oil changes, towing, rental cars, locksmiths, roadside assistance and hotels in the event that something does go wrong. Plus, you’ll have 24-hour technical assistance and access to qualified service professionals.

If you still have questions about what to look for on your vehicle, the Car Care Council offers a free 60-page guide on their website which covers major car components and service recommendations. Plus, while you are at their site, you can set up service schedules, get DIY tips, use an online diagnostics tool to identify any car problems, locate a mechanic and much more. That way you are always prepared for what’s down the road and your vehicle is good to go year-round.

Filed Under: AAA, Car, Care, contract, Council, service, Vehicle

Warrantech’s Fourth-Quarter Forecast

By: Global Administrator

September 26, 2013

Sean Stapleton, Warrantech President and CEO, recently took part in an executive forum with TWICE Magazine. Here’s what he had to say about the current state of service contracts and what consumers and retailers can look forward to in the closing months of 2013.

What is your fourth-quarter outlook for consumer electronics and appliance sales?

Despite recent reports regarding declines in consumer confidence, we are cautiously optimistic about product sales growth in the fourth quarter. We continue to see the mobile device category outperforming expectations. Further, recent improvements to the housing market have aided appliance sales for many of our partners.

Our belief is that consumers have prolonged many new product purchases due to uncertainty about the economy; with so much pent-up demand it is a matter of time before we see a flurry of consumer spending on new products.

Do you anticipate any change in historic Q4 attachment rates?

During the recession we witnessed increased attachment rates for extended service contracts due to a greater focus by retailers. The lesson learned by many retailers during those challenging times was that well-managed extended service contract programs increase customer satisfaction and retention, in addition to providing revenue. We believe the trend will continue on into the fourth quarter and beyond.

Which electronics/appliance categories show the most promise for service contract sales in the fourth quarter?

The mobile device market continues to lead the other categories with regard to growth. During the upcoming holiday season we expect to see further growth of the category due to continued demand by consumers for these devices. Additionally, we are seeing a very interesting growth trend for audio equipment including high-end headphones, soundbars and portable speakers. Consequently, we anticipate that service contract sales for the mobile electronics and audio equipment categories will be strong.

Will the new generation of Ultra HD and OLED TVs have an impact on TV sales and attachment rates this holiday season?

The new TV technologies are expected to provide some improvement to sales. However, unless strong marketing campaigns are unveiled by manufacturers and retailers detailing the overall improvements to the consumer’s viewing experience, growth will be limited. The trend toward higher sales of smart TVs does provide us with good reason to be excited about Ultra HDTV and OLED TV sales in the future.

We anticipate higher attachment rates for Ultra HDTVs and OLED TVs due to consumers’ concerns regarding product performance for these new technologies.

What are you doing to help retailers increase attachment rates for online purchases?

We continually share best practices with our partners regarding optimizing online extended service contract programs, including guidance on messaging, content placement and the importance of missed point of sale solutions.

Our collective experience is that online programs, while very different in many regards to traditional retail programs, share a common trait for success with their brick-and-mortar counterparts. The most successful retail programs are based on earning trust with customers during the product sale and establishing the importance of the extended service contract during and after the sales process.

How are you addressing mobile commerce?

We continue to provide a strong online service platform for our partner programs in addition to other online tools. Our goal is to allow customers to interact with us on their terms, whether it be through social media, web chat, our dynamic online claim adjudication tool or over the phone. Additionally, our solutions are designed for rapid integration with online programs.

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

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.

Visit our blog frequently to keep up with the latest industry news and company updates. And make sure to bookmark warrantech.com so you can learn more about our innovative products and services.

Filed Under: consumer, contracts, devices, electronics, HD, mobile, OLED, service, TV, TWICE, Ultra

Report Shows That Vehicle Service Contracts Are More Important Than Ever

By: Global Administrator

September 16, 2013

According to a recent report by R.L. Polk & Co., the average age of passenger cars and light trucks on the road right now stands at a record high of 11.4 years. This makes ownership of a vehicle service contract even more important as repair costs rise with older vehicles.

“Service contracts provide peace of mind for owners who keep their cars longer,” said Timothy Meenan, Service Contract Industry Council (SCIC) executive director. “Expensive breakdowns always seem to happen right after a car loses its manufacturer’s warranty protection, so extended service contracts can provide more years of worry-free driving.”

Data from Polk, which keeps track of registration data from the nation’s state motor vehicle departments, shows that the number of older vehicles on the road has increased over the years. In 2002, the average age of the U.S. car and light-truck fleet was 9.6 and the steady upward trend is expected to continue.

Average Age of Passenger Cars and Light Trucks


Year

Passenger Cars

Light Trucks

Total Light Vehicles

2002

9.8

9.4

9.6

2003

9.9

9.5

9.7

2004

10.0

9.5

9.8

2005

10.1

9.5

9.8

2006

10.2

9.5

9.9

2007

10.3

9.6

10.0

2008

10.4

9.8

10.1

2009

10.5

10.1

10.3

2010

10.8

10.5

10.6

2011

11.1

10.8

10.9

2012

11.3

11.1

11.2

2013

11.4

11.3

11.4

“Most of us want to do everything we can to hang onto our cars as long as possible, but the rising cost of repairs makes this increasingly difficult,” said Meenan. “The upkeep of an older car can get expensive quickly, but extended coverage through a service contract helps keep a car running longer without so many pricey repair bills.”

Visit warrantech.com to learn more about the various vehicle service contracts that are available to you.

Filed Under: contracts, service, Vehicle

Extended Service Plans: More Value, Less Uncertainty

By: Global Administrator

July 30, 2013

Everyone understands the importance of savings. We’ve been taught from an early age that the sooner you start saving, the better off you’ll be later down the road. Setting aside funds can increase your purchasing power when buying a home, prepare you for retirement at an earlier age and cover your expenses should you need emergency funds — all smart investments toward getting ahead and staying ahead.

However, a recent nationwide survey by Hart Research Associates shows that 48 percent of Americans say that they do not have the savings they need to achieve financial stability. In today’s economy, it is especially challenging to set aside rainy day funds for those unexpected moments that can drain your bank account and set you back even further. That is why it is in your best interest to consider an extended service plan (ESP).

Designed to help customers manage the cost and inconveniences of product failures, an ESP can be purchased for just a fraction of what you would normally pay for service repair. In some cases, the savings can add up to hundreds of dollars and even mean the difference between paying just a little extra cash as opposed to purchasing an entirely new product. Plus, there are several other advantages to consider with an ESP.

  • Today’s plans and service programs are more affordable than ever before
  • You’ll have added peace of mind knowing that your purchases will be fixed or replaced if something goes wrong
  • If you are having trouble with a product, you’ll have immediate access to a qualified service professional who can diagnose the problem, saving you time and money
  • A Warrantech ESP can readily be customized to fit your wants and needs

Above all, an ESP can protect you from incurring deeper debt and help save you money in the long run. This in turn can free up your finances so that you are able to accumulate greater wealth and maintain a respectable savings. And as most financial-savvy individuals view their major purchases as an investment worth protecting, an extended service plan should be considered a smart addition to your savings account.

Filed Under: Extended, plans, service, Warrantech

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