Warrantech Partners with Encompass for Sourcing and Procurement of Parts and Product replacements

By: Jeff Hatch

January 04, 2017

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., Jan. 04, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Encompass Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. (“Encompass” or “the Company”) a leading provider of 3PL and 4PL solutions for a diverse range of replacement parts and finished goods, today announced it has been selected by Warrantech, an AmTrust Financial Services Company and one of the country’s largest extended warranty administrators, to help provide parts and product procurement in support of Warrantech’s extended warranty service objectives.
 
Encompass will provide repair parts to the Warrantech service network, or replacement products in the event parts are not readily available or repairs are not economically feasible. The Company’s highly-seasoned Purchasing team will leverage its global network of vendors to support multiple product categories, including Consumer Electronics, Home Appliance, Heating and Cooling, Computer, Imaging, Mobile Devices and others.
 
Encompass Purchasing will be focused on creating a world-class service experience for Warrantech’s customers and the brands it supports, while helping to manage costs, decrease turn time and positively impact severity.
 
Encompass expects to reduce expensive buyouts to consumers. As Encompass President and CEO Robert Coolidge noted in a recent blog post, the use of gift cards or other means for warranty reimbursement to consumers versus repair or replacement is costly to warranty companies and raises the risk of brand displacement for manufacturers.
 
“In our ongoing mission to help our clients be more successful, we aim to curtail the industry practice of compensating consumers with gift cards to replace a defective product,” said Coolidge. “This can lead to brand displacement and decreased customer satisfaction as end users are now being tasked to find another product. Manufacturers should want to do whatever it takes to keep their brand in the customer’s home and maintain low repair costs.”
 
To provide hands-on service to Warrantech, Encompass will embed a dedicated team of Encompass employees within the Warrantech infrastructure, as well as inside key partner facilities – a practice that Encompass has deployed with other strategic partners with great success.
 
“Working side-by-side with Warrantech on site will enable Encompass to more efficiently resolve issues and eliminate communication gaps to help expedite customer claims resolution,” said Ariel Gorelik, Chief Operating Officer, Warrantech.
 
About Warrantech
Warrantech is a subsidiary of AmTrust Financial Services, a multinational property and casualty holding company that is rated "A" (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company for their financial strength and stability. An innovative, technology-driven company, AmTrust brings its financial strength to Warrantech, enabling it to offer a unique, bundled approach that includes both underwriting and administration. This creates transparency and visibility to information that enables customers to change and create plans that are both highly customized and profitable.
 
About Encompass Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. 
Encompass is a market leader in forward and reverse supply chain management and high-tech repair services for a diverse and expanding range of consumer electronics, computer, major appliances and imaging products.  Encompass provides end-to-end solutions for OEMs, retailers, independent dealers and third-party administrators.
 
Encompass manages all stages of the product lifecycle, including finished goods and replacement parts logistics, board repair and product refurbishment services, returns management, asset value recovery and eco-friendly disposal. For more information, please visit encompass.com and encompassparts.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Filed Under: claims, Encompass, parts, products, replacement, services, Warrantech

WCM Conference Keynotes

By: Jeff Hatch

March 09, 2015

Sean Stapleton, president and CEO of Warrantech/AMT Warranty will be presenting at the 2015 Warranty Chain Management Conference on March 11 in Miami. The following is an excerpt from Warranty Week in anticipation of the event. 

The technology is changing. The need for repairs is changing. Even the concept of ownership is changing. And the way people shop is changing. Two industry experts describe how they see these changes impacting warranty and service contracts.

At this year's Warranty Chain Management Conference, attendees are immediately going to be challenged to face the changes that new technology is forcing upon our industry.

It's going to be a bit upsetting, especially to those who like the status quo. Rather than hearing about the latest best practices in the break/fix business, and how everything is slowly going to get incrementally better, attendees are going to be told how driverless vehicles will challenge the whole idea of automobile ownership, and how comparison shopping apps that seek out the lowest prices have made it tough to earn a living in retail.

A pair of warranty industry experts will deliver a one-two punch of keynote presentations at the WCM Conference on March 11 in Miami, about the impact of disruptive technologies upon warranty. We spoke with both of them this week about their presentations.

John Estrada opens the morning session with a talk about how driverless transportation will change warranty and service contracts, followed by AMT Warranty's Sean Stapleton talking about how warranty and service contracts can help save retail from its downward spiral, by making value and customer relationships as important as low prices.

WCM's Morning Schedule

In the WCM program, Stapleton's 45-minute presentation is called "Combating the Retail Pandemic," a title he said he came up with a few months ago when the Ebola scare reached the United States. They're by no means the same thing, but in economic terms, the current state of the retail environment provokes a comparable level of fear for many veteran merchants whose iconic organizations are facing possible extinction.

"I certainly wanted to grab everyone's attention, but more importantly I felt that the title set the stage for a discussion about a very serious and widespread situation for retailers and manufacturers," he said. "A pandemic is a disease that has a disastrous impact felt both locally and globally." And he said that many colleagues and friends in the retail industry are dealing with a profound change in both customers and the marketplace where a low price seems to be the main determining factor for product purchases. So either they lose the sale, or they get the sale but lose money anyway.

In other words, the sales slump that's hurting many of them comes not just in terms of revenue but also in terms of profitability. "Margin erosion has impacted retailers in ways never seen before," he said. Price will always be a factor when a product is purchased, he added. This is nothing new – the modern difference is the ease by which customers can obtain pricing comparisons and make purchases through multiple sources.

The Great Recession

Stapleton said some people blame the current retail challenges on the lingering effects of the Great Recession – the decline of household income, aging baby boomers, rising unemployment, or falling home values. Others say it's the lack of innovation, or the lack of exciting new "must-have" products.

"The reality is that there has been product innovation: smartphones, 4K and Ultra HD, wearables, advanced car tech, and highly functional tablets. You look at the growth the CEA expects for these segments, and it's tremendous. So the innovative products do exist."

Meanwhile, the economy may not be as strong as we would all like, but it's not as bad as some people make it out to be, he said. The U.S. Census Bureau pegs the January-to-January sales gain at 3.3%, which isn't great but also isn't dismal. Total retail sales for the November-to-January holiday period were up 3.8% from the same period a year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate is now down to 5.7% and the median price of existing home sales is up 6.2% since last year. So what is it?

Ironically, he said, in an era where retailers are perhaps more connected with their customers than ever before, thanks to social media and big data, those connections are more superficial than ever.

"The heart of what I'm going to discuss is that many retailers and manufacturers are just not achieving a high level of loyalty and commitment from their customers," he said. "Part of the problem is that we're living in the 'Age of Like.' We see this play out on Facebook every day, with users happily clicking the thumbs up icon for just about anything they see. However, that's where the customer commitment often ends. 'Like' should not be our collective goal. To be successful we need to aspire to win the love of our customers. The reality is that overall we aren't seeing the same level of affinity for brands that we used to enjoy."

For instance, Stapleton said, his father always bought Kenmore appliances. "He loved his Kenmore appliances because, in his mind, they earned his trust and loyalty year after year" he said. "He wouldn't dare shop for another brand. Sadly, we don't have that kind of an environment anymore."

"As warranty and service contract professionals, we have a unique opportunity to affect customer loyalty," he said. "We have the ability to turn a negative experience into a powerful trust building moment with customers. Customers recognize and accept that product breakdowns can happen to even the most reliable products. The customer's perception of the product issues are more often driven by our responses."

Stapleton further noted that one of the greatest challenges with service contract programs arises when a customer's claim isn't covered under the contract, whether as a result of an expired contract or other reasons. "In such situations, there is still an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive."

He suggested that there are plenty of instances when no coverage exists, but accommodation can still be made to assist the customer and provide them value. Accommodations may take the shape of providing a product replacement or repair outside the service contract. However, there are other solutions that are less frequently utilized that can have a major positive effect with minimal financial impact.

For instance, Stapleton noted that broken products not covered under a plan can be purchased back from customers based on the products core value. Additionally, discounts on replacement products can be provided or even gift cards with token values which can be applied to future purchases can be offered to customers. The actual cash value is less important than the act of going the extra mile for a customer.

Discount Repair Services

Stapleton proposed another low-cost marketing idea: leveraging a claims administrator's repair network by making it available to customers who have a non-covered product issue. Why not offer loyal customers discounts on repairs for their customer-pay jobs related to these types of product issues, or even for other products they own?

"Here's how I see it: Warranty and service contract programs are developed by operations groups. However, the marketing departments of the retailers or manufacturers are rarely involved in the development of these programs. And I think that creates a level of disconnect. I see service contracts and warranty programs as one of the most powerful loyalty solutions out there. It actually is a game changer," he said.

Manufacturers and retailers might not know the name and address of every single customer, but they certainly have that data for those who needed warranty work or who made claims under their service contracts. With this information, a critical segment of their customer base can be identified and hopefully saved.

Stapleton suggests that marketing departments utilize claims data to establish a loyalty campaign tailored toward these affected customers. "The fact is that some of these customers may have been your best customers in the past. The data currently residing in a company's system can provide them the ability to know how and when a customer's perception of them soured. Moreover, that data combined with a strong retention plan can help return the customer to their former loyalist status. Further, this type of strategy can prevent the impacted customers from becoming one of your net detractors." He noted that with the power of social media, disenfranchised have the ability to shape an enormous population of existing and potential customers' views of your product or company.

Ultimately, he said, when structured and executed appropriately, warranty programs build trust and loyalty. Stapleton said it is inexcusable to allow one claim to impact a lifetime relationship with an existing customer. "Instead of spending the majority of available marketing resources to bring in new customers, let's keep the ones you have. Let's prevent them from getting out into social media and destroying your reputation based on one poor claim event."

The first step, Stapleton suggests, is to change the whole image of warranty within the retail industry. "If you want to change the perception of warranties and service contracts for customers, you have to change it internally first. We can't allow warranties and service contracts claims to be viewed as an unfortunate expense. We need to view them as a marketing opportunity that can potentially save a customer thereby leading to countless future purchases and maybe even a means to evoke positive customer emotions that go beyond 'like.'"

To read this article in its entirety, go to Warranty Week. And be sure to visit Warranty Conference for more information regarding the WCM Conference.

Filed Under: claims, Conference, customers, economy, retail, Sean, service, Stapleton, Warranty

How Well Do You Know Your Service Plan/Warranty Administrator?

By: Jeff Hatch

December 23, 2014

Service contracts and extended warranties can be a great source of revenue for retailers, manufacturers and distributors. And their use as a customer satisfaction and retention tool can never be overstated. But what happens if your administrator ceases operations or is otherwise unable to service your business?

To be an approved administrator, certain licenses must be obtained along with proof of financial stability. Most administrators in the marketplace satisfy this last requirement by securing a contractual liability insurance policy (“CLP”) issued from an insurance company. This CLP requires the insurance company to “stand in” for the administrator in the event the obligations to the consumer have not been met. But what happens if the insurance company cancels the administrator, cannot provide administrative capabilities or ceases operations?

While the name of the administrator, and often the insurer, is listed in the service contract, when the customer seeks payment of a claim or a return of their funds, and the administrator and/or insurer no longer answer their phones, where does the customer turn?

Throughout the years, there have been numerous instances where either the administrator and/or the insurer of a service contract program have gone out of business or otherwise ceased operations. When this happens, your customers may not get their claims paid or their refunds processed and YOU will be their target of ire and will often be compelled to make good to the customer out of your own pocket.  How do you prevent this?

At AMT Warranty and its subsidiary Warrantech, we believe it is critical that you know and understand the capabilities and financial wherewithal of your administrator and your insurer. Conducting due diligence and asking the right questions can make all the difference between a service plan program that provides you with revenue and customer satisfaction and one that is a customer service and financial nightmare.

To ensure your service contract providers will be there when your customers need them most, we believe you should be asking the following:

• How long have they been in business?
• What is the experience and background of their management team?
• What is the size of their business?
• What is the ownership structure of their business?
• What is their Better Business Bureau rating?
• Who is their insurer?
• How many insurers have they had over the past 10 years?
• Are they and the insurer under common ownership?
• What is the insurance structure of the CLP (e.g., is the insurance company standing in on the “first dollar” of risk or are they simply providing an excess of loss policy)?
• If your administrator is using an “excess of loss policy,” is your administrator reserving sufficient monies needed for the potential risk not covered under the insurer provided policy?
• How long has their insurance company been in business?
• What is their financial size and A.M. Best rating?
• Are the respective companies compliant with SOX, PCI, SSAE 16, etc.?
• Do they have audited or public financials?
• Have you visited their facilities?
• Are they outsourcing any critical functions?
• Are you doing reference checks?

A well designed and maintained service contract is only possible if all of the parties to the transaction are fully capable of performing their various roles and can weather periodic or irregular changes to their business model or performance, especially if your provider is not vertically integrated with the insurance company.

Filed Under: administrator, business, claims, contract, financials, insurer, manufacturers, retailers, service, warranty

Tips For Buying A Vehicle Service Contract

By: Jeff Hatch

December 17, 2014

A vehicle service contract (VSC) is a smart investment. It can help cover the cost of unexpected repairs and keep your vehicle running at its best. But how do you know if the plan is right for you? Here are a few questions you can ask your VSC salesperson to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.  

How Much Does The VSC Cost?
Obviously, money is one of the most important factors in the decision-making process. Is your vehicle worth the investment? If so, you’ll want more coverage, which means more money. However, the amount you pay now could add up to hundreds of dollars in savings later. 

What Does The VSC Cover?
Consider your driving habits and the make and model of your vehicle. For instance, if the company who manufactures your car is known for the quality of their interior components and you plan on keeping your vehicle in a garage, then you probably don’t need paint and fabric protection as part of your VSC. 

How Long Does The VSC Last?
Again, the way you drive has a big impact. If you plan on keeping the vehicle for several years or know you’ll be spending a lot of time on the road, then having a VSC makes a lot of sense. You’ll also want to know if your vehicle is currently under a manufacturer’s warranty since the VSC typically goes into effect after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.

Who Backs The VSC?
Make sure that the company behind your plan is reputable. Some good indicators to help determine credibility include an A.M. Best rating, which demonstrates financial strength and stability, and a Better Business Bureau rating, which assesses the company’s business practices. Also, look at how long the company has been in business and examine their background.

How Are Services And Claims Handled?
Find out if the company has a network of service providers. Are they in your area and readily available to work on your vehicle? Once this has been determined, inquire about claim submission and processing. Can you submit claims online? Does the company have a reliable customer service department to assist you? And do they provide fast and convenient service to help get you back on the road as soon as possible?

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Any Other Questions You Might Have
You should never feel pressured into purchasing coverage that you don’t understand. If there is anything about your vehicle service contract that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t hesitate to ask. Always remember, it is the salesperson’s responsibility to assist you. If you don’t feel that you are getting the help you need to make a proper purchasing decision regarding your VSC, then you probably aren’t going to get the right help should something go wrong with your vehicle.

Got a question about one of our vehicle service contracts? Contact us online at https://warrantech.com/contact-us/ or call at 800.833.8801. We’re happy to help.

Filed Under: A.M., automotive, Best, Better, Bureau, Business, claims, contract, service, vehicle, VSC, Warrantech

Warrantech’s Online Claims System Wins at the 2014 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

By: Global Administrator

February 24, 2014

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Feb. 24, 2014) – Warrantech was presented with a Stevie® Award for Innovation in Customer Service during the eighth annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer ServiceSM. The awards were presented to honorees during a gala banquet on Friday, February 21, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. More than 400 nominated customer service and sales executives from the U.S.A. and several other countries attended.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world’s top sales awards, contact center awards, and customer service awards. The Stevie Awards organizes several of the world’s leading business awards shows including the prestigious American Business AwardsSM and International Business AwardsSM.

More than 1,500 entries from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted to this year’s competition, an increase of 36% over 2013. Finalists were determined by the average scores of 129 professionals worldwide, acting as preliminary judges. Entries were considered in 43 categories for customer service and contact center achievements, including Contact Center of the Year, Award for Innovation in Customer Service, and Customer Service Department of the Year; 43 categories for sales and business development achievements, ranging from Senior Sales Executive of the Year to Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year to Sales Department of the Year; and categories to recognize new products and services and solution providers.

More than 260 executives around the world participated in the judging process for the 2014 awards, to determine the Finalists and then the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements.

Warrantech was recognized for its comprehensive online customer service and claims adjudication/administration system. Allowing for ease of use, it provides customers with access to manage purchased contracts and submit claims online. Customers can also track the status of their repairs and obtain contact information for the service provider when necessary. This helps streamline and improve customer service levels by allowing automation of key processes within claims filing.

“Entries to the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service awards have almost doubled over the past few years,” said Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards. “Not only have we seen a dramatic increase in the number of entries; but the judges have also seen a remarkable rise in the quality of the nominations submitted overall. We congratulate all of this year’s Stevie winners for their outstanding work.”

Details about the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service and the list of Stevie winners in all categories are available at www.StevieAwards.com/sales.

Filed Under: Awards, claims, customer, online, service, Stevie