Farrelly-Caizzone & Associates had the opportunity to interview Greg Kihlstrom, a customer and employee experience and digital transformation expert, best selling author, and speaker.
Greg Kihlstrom is a customer and employee experience and digital tranformation expert. His mission is:
to find better ways to connect people to the things they value most through product, partnership, and experience strategy.
Greg during the years has become a very influential person in his sector. He won a lot of awards and he also has created a few success start up.
Greg is also a best-selling author. He wrote seven books about employee experience, customer experience, and the evolution of branding and marketing.
The last book “The Agile Workforce” (2021) focuses on the future of work and on how humans and AI-driven machines will work together to create our future. This book belongs to the Agile series of books.
He is an entrepreneur and a very famous speaker. He has worked with some of the world’s leading organizations on customer experience, employee experience, and digital transformation initiatives including Coca-Cola, FedEx, Marriot, MTV, Starbucks.
In early 2019 He launched his podcast “The Agile World” that discusses brand strategy, marketing and customer experience.
Read our interview to discover more about him and his job!
Questions for Greg Kihlstrom
- Hi Greg, could you please tell us something about yourself and your work?
- How did you start your career as an expert in digital transformation, author and speaker?
- Your new book “ The Agile Workforce” is about the future of work, and how humans and AI-driven machines will work together to create our future: what is the principal focus of this book?
- I saw that during your career you had a lot of experiences in different sectors, from marketing to advertising, to customer service and HR management. What is your favourite sector between these?
- What’s the main factors impacting the customer experience?
- How can a company guarantee a good customer experience?
- Which category do your customers belong to?
- Could you explain us the main causes that create a good employee experience? And in this period in which we are forced to work from home, how can the company provide a positive employee experience?
- Based on your experience, what are the key elements of business success?
- During the last years you became more and more popular and a point of reference in your sector. How has your life changed?
- We are living in a time of uncertainty and disruptive changes. How is it affecting the business environment? What are the main resistances that companies are facing?
1. Hi Greg, could you please tell us something about yourself and your work?
I am an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and have worked extensively in customer experience, employee experience, and digital transformation my entire career.
My mission in whatever I do is to find ways to connect individuals with ways to improve their experience and their ability to grow and thrive, while also improving outcomes for the companies and brands that support that experience. When both sides of this equation have improvements, it creates a sustainable win-win situation.
My podcast, The Agile World, features thought leaders from top brands and companies that talk about how they have successfully adapted to changing business conditions and found a way to thrive.
Early on in my career, I saw the potential for technology to play a transformative role in business and in how consumers interact with brands. I started a digital experience agency in 2003 and that really accelerated my ability to transform businesses and their customer relationships.
As part of growing my agency, Carousel30, I increasingly understood that the key to reaching new audiences and potential customers was to start writing and speaking about the ideas that we developed.
This helped reach new companies and individuals, helped my agency grow, and contributed to the ongoing dialogue about digital transformation and the growing need to focus on customer experience.
3. Your new book “ The Agile Workforce” is about the future of work, and how humans and AI-driven machines will work together to create our future: what is the principal focus of this book?
The principle idea behind the book is that work is becoming more individualized, and because of this, the organization of the future needs to understand and embrace a world where a hybrid workforce of full-time and independent workers need to collaborate to achieve their goals.
Also, with an increasingly independent workforce, companies need to understand how to get the most value out of those individuals, while providing an environment where they will stay loyal and contribute.
The theme of this book is consistent with my previous books The Agile Brand and The Agile Consumer, where the power dynamic between individuals and corporations is shifting in favor of the former. Companies that embrace this will succeed with both a happy workforce and happy customers.
4. I saw that during your career you had a lot of experiences in different sectors, from marketing to advertising, to customer service and HR management. What is your favourite sector between these?
For me, it’s less about having a favorite sector, then to continually push myself to have a greater understanding of how different sectors and disciplines related to one another. I thrive when I am tasked with identifying and optimizing connections between people, processes, and technologies.
Having a good understanding of all these intersecting areas has helped me work with companies to find the best solutions to their strategic needs.
5. What’s the main factors impacting the customer experience?
Because customer experience can be defined as the perception of every interaction with a brand, the main factors can vary greatly depending on the type of company, product, or service.
But generally speaking, there are three primary methods that customer experience is affected:
1) when customers reach out to companies or interact with their product;
2) when companies reach out to their customers;
3) the way that companies run their organizations, plan new products or services, or provide passive communication or interaction channels.
Companies that understand how these three areas relate to great customer experience as a whole are more likely to be successful.
6. How can a company guarantee a good customer experience?
While nothing is absolutely guaranteed, the best way to ensure a good customer experience is to build a customer-centric culture within the organization. When that happens, the decisions that are made, the products and services provided, and the interactions that a brand has with its customers will create a better customer experience.
7. Which category do your customers belong to?
I have worked in a variety of industries from financial services, technology, and healthcare, to nonprofits and the public sector. The organizations I work with are looking for transformation in the digital, customer experience or employee experience spaces.
8. Could you explain us the main causes that create a good employee experience? And in this period in which we are forced to work from home, how can the company provide a positive employee experience?
While there can be many factors that create either a good or bad employee experience, there are a few things that are universally true. First, employees want to both feel valued, and feel that their work makes a valuable contribution to the company. Second, employees want to understand and be aligned with the values of the organization they work for. Finally, employees want to feel heard and rewarded for their efforts.
Similar to how great customer experience requires building a customer-centric culture, creating great employee experiences means that an organization must embrace that their employees are the most important component of their long-term success.
9. Based on your experience, what are the key elements of business success?
I look at business success in terms of three big areas, though there are countless other details that create sustainable growth.
First, you need to be passionate about what you are doing. No amount of the other two items make up for the time, energy and sheer sweat that it will take to be successful in any business endeavor.
Second, you need to find a true product-market fit. It is too easy to simply have a good idea, and even getting all of your friends and colleagues to agree with your approach can be misleading. It is one thing to get approval of people who want to support you, and it is quite another to match a true customer need with a product or service. Make sure you’ve done your homework.
Finally, you need to find a team that can help you pull off your ideas and visions. No one person can do everything. Even if you have a diverse set of skill sets, you don’t have an infinite amount of time, focus, and energy. Finding the right people, partners, and technology to help you find success.
10. During the last years you became more and more popular and a point of reference in your sector. How has your life changed?
I’ve always strived to help as many people as possible solve their challenges or try to look at things from a different perspective. I welcome the opportunity to have a bigger platform to do this, and have embraced the opportunity to grow as an author, podcast host, speaker, and entrepreneur.
11. We are living in a time of uncertainty and disruptive changes. How is it affecting the business environment? What are the main resistances that companies are facing?
Whenever there is uncertainty in the business environment, many companies tend to pull back on some of the things that stand to benefit them in the long run. These types of things range from sales and marketing investments, to programs that increase customer satisfaction and improve the customer experience.
This is tragic for companies that have made strides towards greater customer centricity for two reasons. One, it directly affects customers who are already living through uncertain times and have increased stresses. Secondly, it teaches employees within an organization that customer-centricity is only a “nice to have” and that when times get tough, only the short-term bottom line matters. This sets a dangerous precedent for when times return to more stability.
Successful organizations embrace a customer-centric culture regardless of the external factors. While some things may scale back due to practical reasons, they never lose sight of supporting the customer needs, or the employees who support them as well.
We want to thank Greg for this interview: we had the opportunity to discover more about the employee and customer experience.
To stay updated on the activities of Greg Kihlstrom, these are the main links:
- Greg Kihlstrom’s Website
- Greg Kihlstrom’s Linkedin
- Greg Kihlstrom’s Twitter
- Greg Kihlstrom on Forbes
- The Agile World’s Instagram
- The Agile World’s Facebook
Discover more interviews with start up founders and business experts in our blog!