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Greg Kihlström – If You Want to Lead in Business, the Customer Comes First


Episode Overview:

Between consumer demands for more personalized and greater data privacy and competitive pressures to provide better omni-channel customer experiences, brands are faced with a dilemma. Build the foundation for the future of customer relationships or lose relevancy in a crowded market. Doing this, however, is not without its challenges.

While many enterprises are engaged in digital transformations in order to modernize and anticipate future changes, these efforts are often fraught with challenges and many fail to deliver the results promised. To help us understand how to create a world-class customer experience, is bestselling author, speaker, and consultant, Greg Kihlström. 

Guest Bio: 

Greg Kihlström is a best-selling author, speaker, and entrepreneur, currently an advisor and consultant to top companies on marketing technology, customer experience, and digital transformation initiatives as Principal and Chief Strategist at GK5A. He is also the host of The Agile Brand with Greg Kihlström podcast. 

He has worked with some of the world’s top brands, including Adidas, Choice Hotels, Coca-Cola, Dell, FedEx, HP, Marriott, MTV, Starbucks, Toyota, and VMware. 

He earned his MBA from Quantic School of Business and Technology and is a member of the School of Marketing Faculty at the Association of National Advertisers. He currently serves on the University of Richmond’s Customer Experience Advisory Board and the Workhouse Arts Foundation Board as Chair of the Marketing Committee. 

Greg has had multiple bestselling books, including his Agile Brand Guides series on marketing technology platforms and practices. His eleventh and most recent book, House of the Customer (2023) discusses the 1:1 personalized customer experience of the future, and how brands can organize the people, processes, and platforms that enable it. Meaningful Measurement of the Customer Experience (2022), provides guidance on how to create a customer-centric culture that prioritizes customer needs while aligning internal teams around a common goal. His award-winning podcast, The Agile Brand with Greg Kihlström, launched in early 2019, discusses brand strategy, marketing, and customer experience with some of the world’s leading experts and leaders.

Greg is a contributing writer to Fast Company, Forbes, MarTech, and CMSWire, and has been featured in publications such as Advertising Age and The Washington Post. Greg has been named a 2022 Top 10 Marketing and Customer Experience Thought Leader by Thinkers 360, was named one of ICMI’s Top 25 CX Thought Leaders two years in a row, and a DC Inno 50 on Fire as a DC trendsetter in Marketing. 

He’s participated as a keynote speaker and panelist at industry events around the world including Internet Week New York, Internet Summit, DigiMarCon, Digital Summit, EventTech, MarTech, SMX Social Media, and VMworld. He has guest lectured at several colleges and universities including VCU Brandcenter, Georgetown University, Duke University, American University, University of Maryland, Howard University, and Virginia Tech.

Resource Links:

Insight Gold Timestamps:

06:34 It’s about the entire journey

07:40 Retention is really trumping net new acquisition

09:25 Happy customers are good for business

11:58 Whoever has that highest service standard in business today just raised the bar for all of us

15:58 Everybody wants to feel purpose in what they do

17:38 We’re all motivated by something intrinsic

19:24 How do brands stay competitive

22:07 Brands need to know their customers

29:02 It’s usually what they add to the experience that makes it better

33:52 When you treat your employees well, they’re going to treat your customers well

36:40 The goals don’t change, but the way you get there is going to change

39:23 The more it looks like a commodity, the more you can differentiate it

Connect Socially:






GK5A (Consulting company):


Agile Brand Guide: 



Rainmaker Digital Solutions:


Next Episode: The Connected Leader with Julie Lee!

About the Host, Michael

Michael Vickers inspires enduring success, redefining the possible for today’s sales professionals, leaders, and managers. Whatever the sales or business opportunity, Michael will greatly enhance your odds of success. Every person who has an idea to promote, an employee to motivate, or a deal to negotiate, will attain a new level of success after an event with Michael.

Michael is also the best-selling author of Becoming Preferred: How to Outsell Your Competition, and Dance of the Rainmaker: Creating Authentic Differentiation in Today's Competitive Marketplace, where he shares his secrets to achieving the very highest level of sales mastery.

Whatever the result you’re striving for, if it involves influencing others or achieving success through others, Michael will build your confidence and accelerate your performance.

Michael is the Executive Director of Summit Learning Systems, a company that offers customized in-house training programs to many of today’s leading companies. He teaches thousands of business professionals throughout North America the skills required to achieve optimum performance.

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