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Insurance and World Cup Champions July 11, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Customer, Human Capital, Process, Uncategorized.
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I love soccer. Growing up, my family was a soccer family and I was just good enough to play the sport through college, where it started to not be so fun anymore.

Question from Caller
While listening to two international soccer commentators answering questions from US soccer fans last week, I heard a question that helped ‘tee up’ this blog entry. The question went something like this: “It seems that the American style of soccer most closely resembles the German style. Should team USA model itself after the Germans to increase its chances of bringing the US a world cup win?”

Answer from Commentator
Without sounding offensive, the commentators explained the challenge the US team has (and will continue to have) in a way that left listeners a little depressed but with an understanding why the World Cup quarter finals so often contain the same teams: Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, etc.

“The style of play is not something that can be copied. It must be genuine. It’s in the culture built from the ground up. When children in Brazil play, they learn from and emulate the world cup team as soon as they can kick a ball. The club teams in Brazil all have foundations based on what has evolved as a way of winning soccer games over many, many decades.” Juergen Klinsmann, a former German world cup player and coach said: “In the United States, the children play soccer to get into a great college or university. In Brazil and Germany…. children play soccer to win the world cup.”

In soccer as in business, innovation wins. The important thing to see, I think, is that while great teams have foundations steeped in things that work historically, once a team knows it can bank on that foundation 100%, it is only then that innovation leads to goals being scored through the fantastic creativity of what we see as star players. Teams don’t win by solely focusing on how things were done in the past or how they’re done in the present. And they sure don’t win by solely focusing on the future (and forgetting the past). Great teams, it turns out, understand that you’ve got to become very good before you can become great in a way that really lasts.

How to Become a World Cup Champion

1. Ensure simple clarity of purpose at all levels of your organization. ie. “To be the most recommended insurer in our markets”.

2. Ensure all activities (which are connected by processes, systems and then even larger systems) are in alignment with your purpose and are continuously improved upon. A common purpose and a common approach for problem-solving (ie. ‘lean’) will help you stay on top of things.

3. Ensure that from pre-employment candidacy through becoming tenured employees, people understand the purpose (so that when people are hired there’s clarity of purpose right off the bat….just like the young child in Brazil knows what his goal is the day he first steps on to a soccer field).

4. Ensure improvements begin through ‘voice of employee’ and ‘voice of customer’ and are fully supported by ‘voice of management’.

5. Understand the nature of cultural change and make sure that it is grown organically as often as possible and by force as little as possible. When force is needed, act swiftly and show little patience.

6. Understand that the root cause of lasting success is your ability to manage the customer-process-employee entities and value chain. A few recommendations for doing so:
Customer – Use Net Promoter Score. See http://www.theultimatequestion.com
Actvities and Processes – Visit http://www.Lean.org
Employee – Study wellness, positive camaraderie, equity and achievement. (and keep it simple.) See http://www.enthusiasticemployee.com

Well, I’m off to watch the Netherlands play Spain in the 2010 word cup final. Neither team has ever won a world cup final before. They must be doing something right. Are you?

Good luck!


1 week, 4805 ‘likes’, 971 ‘comments’ July 7, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Uncategorized.

One week ago I posted a simple request on my LinkedIn update. Specifically, I asked: “I am checking to see how many people actually read LinkedIn updates. If you read this please “like” or “comment” it.”

First, it will help to know that I have 462 direct connections in my network, 95% of whom are located in the US. Average views of my profile prior to this survey was approximately 1 view per day and my profile turns up in search results about as often, 1x per day.

I’m a customer experience consultant and my target market to network in is the insurance market – anything having to do with insurance: brokers, carrier employees, solution providers, recruiters, etc. As a purposely small consulting outfit, my greatest challenge is getting my name, white papers, other information out there – hence my efforts on communicating information via LinkedIn.

Surprising Results

It is incredible to me that so many people took part in this survey with no, zero, nada, nothing promised in return. It is a testament, I believe, to the existence of a general willingness of people to want to help each other when there’s no appearance of a ‘trick’, ‘sale’ and/or ‘return’. Pretty neat.

Less than 1% of the respondents were direct contacts of mine.

Less than 1% of the respondents are in my target market.

Approximately 60% of the respondents were from overseas. Great feedback from all over the world, most notably India.

My profile was reviewed, on average 70 times a day.

Numerous people commented that they received my message but had no 1, 2 or 3 level connections to me. I checked and they were right. Numerous times, when I went to check on respondents, I received a message from LinkedIn that we had no common contacts.

A grand total of 1 person that I counted accused me of using the survey as an attempt to market my wares.
Many others indicated that they had wondered about penetration through LinkedIn and wondered the same thing.

My takeaways are:

1. The benefits of my efforts on LinkedIn aren’t what I thought they were and there’s no business ROE (return on energy) in site.
2. My direct contacts may have chosen to ‘hide’ me and so the content I supply articles, research info., etc., isn’t viewed as useful by the market I wish to penetrate.
3. I should think about redirecting my professional efforts at industry beyond insurance.
4. Lots and lots of people read my updates and I may be wasting their time because the information often does not pertain to them : ) sorry!
5. Continue to look to LinkedIn for people to connect with but connect personally instead of with a broad brush. As a small player, I can’t compete on brand anyway. Need to continue to pound the pavement, phones and write personal letters to tap targets more deeply.
6. Drop the LinkedIn updates to do more of 5.

Hoping you found this information useful,

Bernard Rosauer

Surface Mongers June 23, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Customer, Human Capital, Process, Uncategorized.
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Experts. Experts. Experts. There seem to be experts for everything nowadays. Experts in Management, Business Growth, Strategy and my personal favorite: Customer Experience. Surface Mongers are ‘experts’ at everything but actual execution.

I left the insurance industry to become a consultant because as an employee I began to see how difficult a time companies were having changing themselves from within. My observation was that for many reasons, it is very difficult for a system to change itself. My thinking was that if I could help serve companies as an outside instrument to actually begin the change process, crossing the line between simply providing data/recommendations and actual hands on execution, doing so would be uncommon and helpful. I was right.

Here’s the disturbing thing I want everyone who reads this to know about. That is…beware of the ‘surface mongers’. Surface mongers are experts, often actually very smart people working for consultancies, who offer to give you a world of data and recommendations and then leave (you with a large bill). In more cases than I care to remember, I have seen companies spend lots and lots of money hiring name brand consultancies in an effort to make sure things are heading in the right direction OR to provide better direction or to let the company know where to start chopping down trees.

Here’s the problem: Ninety-five percent of the consultants I know ‘get off the bus’ prior to executing improvement strategies. They’re surface mongers! Furthermore, they much more often not have never worked within an organization that has executed the strategies they’re now professing are needed. Many of them are life-long consultants and advisors with absolutely no experience in business other than from a consulting standpoint.

This is all okay if information and direction from someone or a group of people who, ultimately, neither understand the complexity of execution nor the price of being unable to do so, is what you’re looking for.

Follow these steps!
Here are some steps, in order of priority, to avoid wasting money on “Customer Experience’ surface mongers:

1. CEO’s: Hire smart executives, get them on the same page customer-wise.
2. Executives: Hire smart leaders, get them on the same page customer-wise.
3. Listen to your customers. Don’t just rely on them to tell you when you’re messing up. Rely on them to tell you when you’re messing up, when you’re just okay and when you’re worth recommending. Use the Net Promoter Score the right way and then start doing what it takes to limit detractors and increase promoters. Don’t guess! Your customers will provide you with better direction than any consultant or advisor.
4. Make sure your organization speaks a common language when it comes to improvement – using ‘lean’ the right way, for instance, will make you a winner.
5. Constantly work to increase employee engagement by focusing on: Wellness (I’m serious), positive camaraderie, fairness and the sense of achievement. It’s the leaders job. Get it done.

I’d love to hear stories of surface mongers. Be nice, but not too nice. Its important that we all learn to identify and then learn from our experiences. By all means, if you are a ‘promoter’ of a particular person or consultancy out there – share those stories as well.

If you’re looking for someone to partner with who is willing to actually help provide guidance inside and outside of the executive meeting room, with problem solving and improvement execution in real-time, think about giving us a call. We know insurance and we’re here if you need us.

Bernie L. Rosauer
President, Rosauer Consulting, LLC

Calculate This! June 3, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Uncategorized.
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Harvard Business School Publishing makes this Customer Lifetime Value Calculator available online. I’ve found it useful when giving presentations and am thinking that you may as well. Just click on the HBSP logo and check it out. Let me know if/how you use it.

Keep in mind that if your company would like a personal presentation about the power of retention, organic growth and more importantly, how insurance organizations are going about achieving both, give us a call.

‘First-in’ wins. Companies are already crossing the threshold toward very real and lasting success.

Bernard Rosauer, President
Rosauer Consulting, LLC

Eyes Wide Open / Wallet Half Shut May 15, 2010

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   Now that the reality and depth of the recession (hopefully) have sunken in, it is both interesting and useful to understand how consumers feel about the future.     Follow this link to a really great article from Ogilvy.  These are the same people who supplied the video about consumer preferences a few pages below:    http://tinyurl.com/24qafpm                  

Thanks, Bernard Rosauer  at  www.RosauerConsulting.com






No Homers May 2, 2010

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I was speaking with the head of a large insurance company this past week and we got to the topic of innovation.  All of this led to a conversation about home runs and baseball.  Hang on.

When I was younger, I thought that all innovation had to be disruptive.  Why?  It’s the kind of change my leaders and shareholders were looking for.  Something big!  Something new!  I was happy to follow because I figured that if I could crack the code and deliver the innovation I would be admired and promoted.  I was confident in my creative brilliance.

Later, I learned that most organizations that depend on disruptive innovation fail to innovate at all.  A few become spectacularly successful, true, and those are the ones we read about and often wish to but can’t emulate.   But the vast majority of them just end up slugging through the years the way they always have and become increasingly frustrated with their inability to innovate or ‘move the needle’.   In some cases, maybe most, in-fighting becomes the norm.  Unaddressed, the infighting becomes part of the culture.  

In that system, the tenured employees are labeled as unwilling to change and the newer employees, who are generally more enthusiastic, are labeled as ignorant of both past attempts and reality.  The organizations that struggle with this just moves along at a frustratingly slow pace. 

I also learned that ‘brilliance’ wasnt something that I had in me…. at least not as it pertains to disruptive innovation and the customer experience.

Back to Home Runs 

We weren’t around in the Babe Ruth days, but we have witnessed the steroid bolstered home run hitting machines of the late 80’s and early 90’s.   While impressive, how many of the teams with a slugger won championships?    And if a team with a slugger did win a championship, was it because of the home runs or was it the game, both offensively and defensively, that the team was able to put together?

If your goal was to win a championship with a team of people, what kind of game would you inspire.  Smart walks, singles, doubles, sacrifice flies at the right time?  Would you want to be able to chip away at the opponent, constantly finding innovative ways of exploiting their weaknesses?  Or, would you rely on The Babe to get things done?

Convert the theme here from sports to your company.  And convert the players to processes and products.  As we search for the next big thing, maybe we’re overlooking 3 smaller things that will enhance the customer experience or limit costs.    Those are the base hits, walks and steals.  Don’t overlook them.  Added together, they’re the stuff of champions.    Home runs help, but they are just part of a much bigger gameplan.

Please call me today if your organization needs help understanding how to become an innovator and earn long term profits the right/healthy way.  

Bernard Rosauer

President, Rosauer Consulting, LLC



Mike Useem on Decision-making April 20, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Human Capital, Uncategorized.
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Michael Useem is Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership and Change at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

I saw this video at @Google Talks and thought it would be of interest to the insurance leadership community here at “The Insurance Experience”.    Useem talks about decision-making under pressure in this hour-long piece.  It’s a good one to watch and listen to while having lunch or as background chatter while completing or approving expense reports. 

The intensifying competition and demand for high performance are pressing organizations to become more flexible, more results-focused, and more fast-acting. Companies are finding that such initiatives require effective leadership and a supportive culture, and this has become all the more critical in an era of greater uncertainty and change. The challenge is to build effective leaders and well-led teams throughout the organization, and that requires a capacity to think strategically and act decisively. Drawing on challenging moments when difficult decisions were faced by company managers, corporate leaders and even mountaineers on Everest and firefighters in the wilderness Michael Useem identifies what it takes for making timely calls when leadership matters most.

Make it happen. April 3, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Uncategorized.
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920.716.1284   brosauer@gmail.com


“ It is apparent that, no matter what company you are from or what sector you are in, your Customer Management project is more likely to fail than succeed.  A stunning 60-92% of Customer Management projects are seen to fail by the sponsor.  As stunning as the failure statistics are, the damage they do to senior management and employee confidence in Customer Management is even more serious.  It leads to thinking such as “We’ve tried it – it doesn’t work”.   This in turn leads to tactical spending on Customer Management projects, rather than the full strategic review and careful implementation which is what is required.”      






NPS Insurance Benchmarks March 28, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Uncategorized.


Satmetrix Releases 2010 Annual Net Promoter Benchmarks for Customer Loyalty 
Reports Highlight Customer Experience Rankings in Insurance

SAN MATEO, Calif., — March 17, 2010 — Satmetrix, the Net Promoter® company and leader in customer experience programs, today released its 2010 Net Promoter Industry Benchmarks for the insurance, financial services, airlines, telecommunications, technology, retail and online services industries. Leaders included well-known brands such as USAA, Charles Schwab, JetBlue, Verizon Wireless, Apple, Trader Joe’s, Costco and Amazon.com.

The rankings are based on survey responses from more than 19,500 U.S. consumers nationwide who had purchased products or services from each company within the previous 12 months. A company’s Net Promoter Score, or NPS®, is based on customers’ likelihood to recommend the company’s product or service. NPS is calculated as the percentage of customers who are Promoters, rating the company 9 or 10 on a zero-to-ten point scale, minus the percentage who are Detractors, rating 6 or lower. Consumers also rated each company on various aspects of customer experience including product or service features, customer service and overall value, allowing Satmetrix to analyze drivers of loyalty and performance gaps for each company.

“A company’s ability to deliver a superior customer experience relative to its industry peers is a critical indicator of customer retention and new customer acquisition through positive word of mouth,” said John Abraham, general manager of Net Promoter programs at Satmetrix. “These benchmarks allow companies to see how consumers rate them relative to their competitors when it comes to customer loyalty.”

The study encompassed 17 specific competitive sectors across seven industries. Highlights for each industry include:

  • Insurance: A significant contrast appeared between property and casualty insurers and companies offering life and health insurance. Scores in life and health were lower, particularly in the health insurance sector. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois was the only health insurance company profiled with a positive NPS, scoring 5% in a sector with an average of negative 13%. CIGNA ranked last among major health insurers with an NPS of negative 28%. State Farm led the life insurance category with an NPS of 34%, more than 22 points higher than runner up New York Life, while USAA dominated the auto insurance sector at 78%, more than 37 points ahead of runner-up GEICO. In homeowners insurance, USAA scored 69%, well above Travelers, which came up last at 3%.

U.S. B2C Benchmarks

Auto Insurance    order

This report includes Net Promoter Scores and customer experience drivers for 11 Auto Insurance providers including:

  • AAA
  • Allstate
  • American Family
  • Farmers
  • Hartford
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm U.S. B2C Benchmarks

Homeowners & Renters Insurance  order

This report includes Net Promoter Scores and customer experience drivers for 8 Homeowners and Renters Insurance providers, including:

  • AAA
  • Allstate
  • Farmers
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Nationwide
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA

Health Insurance      order

This report includes Net Promoter Scores and customer experience drivers for 7 Health Insurance providers including:

  • Anthem
  • BlueCross BlueShield of Florida
  • BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois
  • Humana
  • United Healthcare

Life Insurance          order

This report includes Net Promoter Scores and customer experience drivers for 6 Life Insurance providers, including:

  • Allstate
  • Liberty Mutual
  • MetLife
  • New York Life
  • Prudential
  • State Farm



… and then what? March 15, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Customer, Human Capital, Process, Uncategorized.
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Stop for a minute.  What are you working on?  Is it a problem?  If so, are you working on it in a way that will keep it from resurfacing?  Or are you putting out a fire?  Is there an underlying problem or root cause that no one ever talks about which causes this problem and other similar problems to occur?  Get at the root cause and address it like its your company’s worst enemy – because it is.  Be nice and it will almost certainly grow back.

Roller coaster strategies, strategies that fix problems and then become part of a new problem, are all too common.  Worse, they don’t work.  They send us up the roller coaster only to find a decline on the horizon.   The best companies travel not up and down, but on an even, gradual incline over long periods of time.   That’s not to say that dramatic change without a downside can’t happen soon.  It is to say that it isn’t something that a company should be thinking about doing over and over again (usually without being able to do anything about it!) .   It is also to say that if you’re going to try it – you had better get it right.

How to Avoid the Roller Coaster

1. Ban Knee-jerk Reactions.  Dont over react.  Stay calm.  Think deep and long-term.  Immediate fixes rarely work.  Understand the importance of listening to customers in the right way, using the right tools, before making postentially costly and damaging mistakes.  (www.netpromoter.com).

2. Ban “Jerk” Reactions   Dont promote jerks – you know, those people who climbed the ladder of success by entering a situation, over managing it and then disappearing (usually by promotion!) before the fallout occurred.  Think smart and always have a succession plan in place.  Plan or be planned upon!  If you are working on something that’s a fix, but seems to be a short-term one, ask your self or your reports ‘and then what’?  Always think about how the fix will play out beyond the next year or two.  Don’t promote people who impress you.  Promote people who impress customers.

3.  Begin thinking of every activity and process in your organization from the customer’s point of view.  Literally take out a sheet of paper and draw a line from the customer to the problem and up to your desk.  Then think abut the problem:  What’s out of whack?   Processes?  People?  You??  Get help understanding how to solve problems permanently using a simple process called lean.  If interested, visit www.lean.org for details.

4. Continuously work to create more promoters and decrease detractors.   Again, see www.netpromoter.com.

5.   Above all, don’t become complacent.  If you are comfortable, you are doing something wrong.   This is the opposite of the ‘knee-jerk’ reaction and less dangerous in the immediate future but as dangerouse to the distant future.  Keep informed.  Understand insustry best practices.  Forget the trophies and top 10 lists – thats the lazy way to stay informed and not all of it, but mush of it is a sale in disguise!