August 10, 2020
Member Spotlight: Meet Assurant’s Jeff Unterreiner .
Businesses and consumers throughout America are excited for the next generation of wireless and the promise of its faster speeds and increased capacity. Assurant President of U.S. Connected Living Jeff Unterreiner briefed us on wireless markets and how his company is helping to ensure consumers have access to these markets as 5G coverage and the number of eligible mobile devices continues to grow.
What is the most exciting thing about Assurant’s role in the wireless industry right now?
Jeff Unterreiner: There is so much opportunity on the horizon with the ever-growing need for consumers to stay seamlessly connected at home, at work and on the go. Assurant is uniquely positioned at the center of this converging ecosystem with our mobile, vehicle and housing lines of business. Also, the investments in capabilities we’ve made over the past several years—and continue to make—have resulted in innovations that are transforming the customer experience and driving better economics for carriers and multiple-system operators across the entire device life cycle. With the rollout of 5G, we’re excited about how we can further drive profitability for our partners through greater acquisition and retention.
What does 5G mean for Assurant?
Jeff Unterreiner: 5G will be a game changer for consumers and carriers thanks to a substantially faster network with lower latency. As 5G networks continue to build out over the next few years, we expect new device launches to stabilize smartphone sales and create incremental device protection and trade-in opportunities.
Assurant research shows 63% of consumers are interested in upgrading to 5G, with Millennials paving the way followed by Gen X and Gen Z. This will make aggressive trade-in, financing and protection services an important part of any wireless offering. Trade-in offers will be particularly vital to offsetting high costs-of-entry.
For the wireless industry, this means having access to wide and deep secondary markets as well as market valuation data that enables informed decision making when creating an offer. As a global leader in asset disposition, Assurant has helped our partners process over 15 million devices in 21 countries at a price that’s 20% more lucrative than the industry average. So, we are understandably excited about how we can continue to help our partners as 5G rolls out.
As a leading company in the reverse logistics industry, how has CTIA’s RLSQ program benefited you?
Jeff Unterreiner: The RSLQ program benefits Assurant in a number of different ways. One of the primary advantages is collaboration. This includes partnership with leaders across the wireless landscape on industry standards. It’s also the ability to collaborate on industry issues such as supply chain reliability, asset disposition and recycling, improved end-user customer satisfaction and how to decrease total cost of ownership. Some specific examples include establishing a retail repair technician certification program with advancement opportunities, as well as a set of retail repair standards and an auditing methodology to ensure compliance.
How can the industry collaborate to help address the challenges that remain in the reverse logistics marketplace?
Jeff Unterreiner: There are several steps the industry can take starting with continuing to define standards and obtaining OEM support for consistency. We also can establish standards and practices for emerging products and technologies, especially as it relates to 5G and the smart home, and collaborate on a common, consistent knowledge base to help improve customer experience and increase first-time resolution for end users. Finally, we should continue to utilize industry best practices such as the cosmetic grading scales for marketplace consistency across the wireless ecosystem and lifecycle of a device.
What advice would you give to a new provider in the reverse industry?
Begin by gaining an understanding of the complexity of the industry and aligning with RLSQ to navigate the requirements and best practices necessary to maximize success. Networking with peers at CTIA sessions is a great way to do this. Also, contribute new ideas and innovations to the RLSQ platform in order to expand and continue to maintain integrity in the reverse logistics market.
Assurant has been a long time CTIA Board Member, having a seat at that table, how have your industry peers influenced the way the company views the future of wireless?
Jeff Unterreiner: We’re proud to work with some of the most innovative and pioneering companies in the wireless industry. They are catalysts that continually drive us to develop new approaches and new ways of delivering better value and service to consumers. It’s often said that if you are not moving ahead you are falling behind. Our partners motivate us to continuously propel the industry forward.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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