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Surface Mongers June 23, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Customer, Human Capital, Process, Uncategorized.

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



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