page title icon Stop Asking Customers to stitch Their experiences

Nicolaj Siggelkow on the Fast Leader Show

Nicolaj Siggelkow thought technology was important in connected strategies until he realized the more important factor was that organizations trying to be customer-centric required customers to stitch together their experience with different organizational departments.

Nicolaj Siggelkow is the David M. Knott Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is a Co-Director of the Mack Institute for Innovation Management and the former Department Chair of Wharton’s Management Department. He studied Economics at Stanford University and received a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University. As recognition of his groundbreaking research on strategy, Nicolaj has been elected as a Fellow of the Strategic Management Society, the leading association of strategy researchers around the world.

He has been the recipient of more than 30 MBA and Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Awards, including the Lindback Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Helen Kardon Moss Anvil Teaching Award, the highest teaching award of Wharton.

Professor Siggelkow is the Academic Director of several open enrollment executive education programs at Wharton and has been involved in many custom programs for organizations, teaching strategy and managerial decision making. He has run strategy workshops for small organizations to Fortune 500 firms, helping them develop and analyze their strategies.

He has developed the on-line course “Business Strategy from Wharton: Competitive Advantage” and is the co-host of the weekly Sirius Radio show “Mastering Innovation.” And he’s the co-author of Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @nicsiggelkow to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet 

“Rather than waiting for a customer to come to me for their particular need, can I anticipate the need?” Click to Tweet

“There’s a natural trade-off between how much value I provide to a customer and the cost it takes.” Click to Tweet

“What drives the happiness of your customers?” Click to Tweet

“The customer has to first become aware of the need they have.” Click to Tweet

“Different customers will have different preferences on how they want to interact with you as an organization.” Click to Tweet

“Companies will have to create an array of different customer experiences.” Click to Tweet

“Connected strategies are fundamentally about understanding customer needs.” Click to Tweet

“Connected strategies quite often runs exactly at the border of magic and creepy.” Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Nicolaj Siggelkow thought technology was an important in connected strategies until he realized the more important factor was that organizations trying to be customer centric required customers to stitch together their experience with different organizational departments.

Advice for others

Taylor the way you communicate with other people.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I’m not very good at delegating.

Best Leadership Advice

Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you are.

Secret to Success

I’m a really good planner.

Best tools in business or life

My calendar.

Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage


Fall; or, Dodge in Hell: A Novel

Contacting Nicolaj Siggelkow





Resources and Show Mentions

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Show Transcript:

Click to access edited transcript

233: Nicolaj Siggelkow: We asked the customer to stitch experiences

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast where we uncover the leadership life hacks that help you to experience breakout performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host customer and employee engagement expert & certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach. 

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Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because we have somebody on the show today who’s going to help us build continuous customer relationships. Nicola Siggelkow, is the David M. Knott Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is a co-director of the Mac Institute for innovative management and the former department chair of Wharton’s management department. He studied economics at Stanford University and received a PhD in business economics from Harvard University. As recognition of his groundbreaking research on strategy, Nikolaj has been elected as a fellow of the Strategic Management Society, the leading association of strategy researchers in the world. He has been the recipient of more than 30 MBA and undergraduate excellence and teaching awards including the Lindback Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award of the University of Pennsylvania and the Helen Karden Moss Anvil Teaching Award, the highest teaching award of Wharton. 

Professor Siggelkow is the academic director of several open and enrollment executive education programs at Wharton and has been involved in many custom programs for organizations, teaching strategy, and managerial decision-making. He has run strategy workshops for small organizations to Fortune 500 firms helping them develop and analyze their strategies. He has developed the online course “Business Strategy from Wharton: Competitive Advantage” and is the co-host of the weekly Sirius Radio show “Mastering Innovation.”  And he is the co-author of Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage. Nikolaj Siggelkow are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:    I hope so. 

Jim Rembach:    I know you will. I’m glad to have you here. Now, I’ve given my legion a little bit about you but could you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:    Well, of course, my current passion has to be my current research. I cannot lie this is what I been doing for the last couple of years together with my good friend and colleague Christian Terwieschth we’ve been thinking about this idea of how firms radically changed the way they interact with their customers. It has been actually fun kind of because what we’ve been able to do is while we were writing the book we were teaching it and that was kind of really a fun thing to do together with my MBA students and our executive audiences. You sort of try things out see whether it actually resonates so that they’ll say, well, this is not just an academic exercise but actually I can use it. This has been actually a quite fun experience and it’s also my first book so it feels like my first baby that I get out there so it’s been a quite exciting ride now. 

Jim Rembach:    I can imagine it is. The work that you are doing and talking about specifically in the connected strategy book is you have several case studies and essentially workshop and you call them workshops that people can actually use in order to help them with their practice of strategy. I think that’s one of the things that’s critically important for all of us is we can take all this knowledge and wisdom that’s book knowledge but until we can actually apply it and practice it we’re not going to get that good at it. 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Yes.  And I think that was really the intention of this book which makes it a bit differently. We all have these workshop chapters where we guide the reader through a worksheet tool and try it. We say at the end of the book—sometimes again this might feel a bit daunting—oh, gosh all these things to do—and so the end of the book said, well, maybe just do a few things to get your toe in the water. We don’t want to push you into the water but maybe force you to put your toe in the water to get going and thinking about these issues.

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s important when you start looking at a lot of things today and we’re going to get into something that I think is really important when you start talking about the coaching aspect of the experience. But before we do that, I think it’s really important to talk about when you start referring to this connected strategy, what does it really mean? And in the book you say is that—a firm with a connected strategy or firms they fundamentally change how they interact with our customers and what connections they create among the various players in their ecosystem. At its core a connected strategy transforms traditional episodic interactions with customers into connected customer relationships that are characterized by continuous low friction and personalized interactions. You talked about this magic of connected strategy. You talked about a place that has magic, and a lot of us that reference in Disney, when you’re referring to that definition come and give us some insight into how that flows. 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   They’re really kind of two parts of a connected strategy. One is idea about really transforming these interactions with customers rather than waiting for a customer to come to me with their particular need can I maybe even anticipate the need that the customer that might allow me to actually have a much better personalized interaction that might enable me to anticipate needs that the customer has. So rather than having these episodic interactions think about something bad happens to me and I go to a hospital only then do I interact with my healthcare provider now having a much deeper connection with my healthcare provider from my Fitbit on the Apple watch. So that’s kind of the one part of connected strategy, it’s almost like the what? What do I provide to the customer? 

The second part of the connector strategy is the how? How do I actually create these connected customer relationships at a reasonable cost? Because again I know how to make me happy in terms of health care, just have a nurse and a doctor standing next to me 24-hour seven that would make me better but it’s very expensive. I think this is a part of where technology plays an interesting role of how we’re able to connect me to resources in a much more efficient way that can we create these good connected customer relationships. 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, as you’re talking about those different dynamics one of the things that you also present when to me what I was interpreting is something, and you didn’t use the word necessarily a ton but disruption, a lot of this connected strategy is all about disrupting the traditional past traditional journeys traditional interaction methods and types and frameworks. One of the things that you talked about is the efficiency frontier, explain to us what that means?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Usually, we can think about—so there’s a natural trade-off between how much value I provide to a customer, how happy I can make my customer through a particular product or service and the cost it takes. So if I just made this example, it would really improve my happiness as a patient if I would have immediate personal access to a doctor standing  next to me but that would be also really, really costly. On the other hand I might have just some telemedicine where I go to a website and I try to educate myself, my happiness of that is much lower but also the cost is much lower, I just have a website I can go to. There’s this usual trade-off between what we call the willingness to pay or the value that the customer perceives and the product and the fulfillment cost that it takes us to create that value in the eye of the customer. So there is of a frontier, if you wish an efficiency frontier the most amount of service you can provide given amount of cost that you want to incur. 

And so within any given industry that is sort of the frontier and different firms have placed themselves at different parts of this frontier some people are very high service but high-cost providers others also low cost low service providers. Now, what these connected strategies effectively have done is they’ve sort of pushed out this frontier. And now all of a sudden there are firms that can do both better. Again imagine let’s say Uber or Lyft, I think it’s a good example, the value I received from using an Uber or Lyft is somehow higher than the one from a cab usually it gets there faster usually it’s nicer usually it’s much easier to pay. So my utility my happiness as a custom has gone up. While at the same time the cost that Uber has of providing a ride from point A to point B is actually less than a cab company. So now it’s a firm that can provide a better service at a lower cost and that is really what drives disruption. All of a sudden now it’s not just a tradeoff anymore it’s actually better on both dimension that is really disruptive.

And so from the perspective of the existing firms it feels like, Wooh where’s this trade-off? This tradeoff is gone. Of course, it’s still there but it’s just now at a higher level. And this is exactly when we think about FinTech or Insure Tech or IOT devices, etc. all of a sudden customers say, wow this is a product that I actually or service I value more than what I’m currently getting and they can actually provide it at a cheaper price, Wooh, I like that. and so that’s exactly what drives disruption well as you’re talking I’m starting to think about to the whole development process and thinking about how it does become easier in order to get people to actually form new habits so if I’m thinking about this whole frontier component an element yes I push it out yes I can do potentially both things better that isn’t always a case but I have to go through a testing phase and so I have to I’m thinking about rapid development rapid deployment rapid adjustment and iteration I’m also thinking about rapid mothballing hey that didn’t work so they’re there to me there’s a whole lot of other components and elements that go into this strategy that we have to take into consideration so where does that come into play in regards to the whole journey as in the consideration and being able to connect create new strategy I mean so the interesting thing is about a lot of these connected strategies actually are not about technologies by instead of new technologies clearly enabler to happen but quite often the companies who create these new strategies they have not created that technology so again let’s thing over but who did not develop GPS cell phones and Google Maps  but they say look if I take these three elements putting and now kind of coming back to our earlier discussion.

Now I’m connecting previously unconnected parties here people with cars in a bit of time here are people who need a ride Wow I can use these technologies to create these new connections and all of a sudden I have a new business model that’s rather disruptive and so I think again what we’re stressing in this in the book and some sense the good news is in order to create a connected strategy you don’t need to be a technology company. A lot of these technologies that underlie connected strategies are out there more or less available to anyone. So really the creativity is much more on the business model side like I’m really trying to understand, hey, what’s that pain point that a particular customer has. And, oh, but this particular information and this particular technology and this particular new connection now I can create a new business model, that’s really where the creativity lies. 

Jim Rembach:    I think you just hit on one of the most important factors here. Being able to go through that creative thinking process and being able to understand how it could formulate new innovative elements that you can fit now into your framework. So if I’m looking at an organization or organization as a whole and looking into the opportunities that exists with the connected strategies where do you see some of the biggest opportunities?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Well so I think the interesting thing is that when we ask men it is quite often, so what drives the happiness of your customer? Because ultimately that’s what it’s about we’re trying to write and attract customers to products and our services our companies. And so when we ask them, what does a value drivers that your customers have? They very quickly focus on tangible and intangible aspects of their product. How fast is my product? How good is it? How many features does it have? Maybe what kind of brand perception do I have? Now all of this is of course important but what we are again stressing in our book is that it’s usually a much longer customer journey that a customer has with us. That sort of starts out at, the customer first actually has to become aware of a need that they have. Then the customer has to understand, okay, now I know what my need is, what are all the options out there that I might be able to use? I’m aware of my need, I need some let’s say, need to save for retirement, okay. Now finally I got aware of that need. But now, what are all the options? I don’t even know but all the options out there. Then what’s actually the best option for me to use? Then, okay.  Now I think I know what I need and I want, how do I get it? Do I need a broker? Can I do it myself? How do I pay? How does it work? There are so many different steps before actually—oh, how good is your financial product? But how good are your fund managers? This is important too. There lots of other pain points that the customer has. I think quite often these connected strategies start out by really having a deep understanding of kind of the pain points or what you call also the willingness to pain drivers the way kind of the delight customers along with this entire customer journey and ask, how can we also remove some of those frictions from the customer journey? That’s quite often sort of a starting point for thinking about, wow, how could we create a better relationship of the customer? 

Jim Rembach:    Al, I start seeing a lot of skill sets required in order to be the most successful here. I’m starting to think about the ability to understand and separate the difference between divergent convergent thinking. I’m starting to also see the understanding of emotion that goes into play with the whole brand loyalty as well as being able to modify behavior that I used to essentially, like, going back to the Uber Lyft thing. I used to hail a cab now I’m using an app all of these things there’s so much friction along the way. How is it most beneficial for an organization to approach this entire process if they haven’t really done it before it’s just kind of happened? Or we’ve been hanging our hat and our revenues on a particular product that is now 20 years old and now we have to start going through this process otherwise we’re going to get disrupted.

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Just in terms of process wise I think we would suggest to really think about different customer journeys that your customer have you’re trying to understand these pain points. Then asking yourself, what are kind of information that we need to resolve these pain points? I wanted to piggyback a little bit on the word of emotion that you mentioned because I think that is really important. We’re describing a different set of what we would call it connected customer experiences that you can create as a company. One we call respond to desire, which is where a customer knows exactly what he or she wants. I need a car now to take me from the airport I need the accommodation in Chicago next week so a customer knows exactly what they want and they want to just press a button and you as a company want to make sort of the rest of that journey as smooth as frictionless as possible. 

And so in some sense if you think again about that customer journey that is sort of a customer experience that works at the end of that customer journey. It already starts just at the moment of your ordering and then it goes through kind of post-purchase experience. But there is a different connected custom experience we call curated offering. This is an experience that helps you actually understand what other best options out there for me? If I go to Netflix in the evening and say, I’m in the mood for a comedy, Netflix says that’s great we’ve got 10,000 comedies for you. That’s not helpful. But if Netflix could say here the five that you might like, okay, I would appreciate that. And oh by the way, here’s a new release that I didn’t know it’s not like I know exactly what movie I want to watch and just stream it  now but if you can help me in that process I have some—and so we would call that curated offering. Then we can go even one step further and that is becoming aware of your need and that is this coaching behavior that we’re talking about. I know I need to take my medication but I’m forgetful. I want to lose some weight but oh, sticking to my diet is hard. A lot of customers would like to achieve certain goals but actually it’s hard for them to do. There’s some biases there’s inertia and if I can help you as a company do that that’s potentially helpful for me as a customer.  

And then the fourth experience we call automated execution. Where the firm basically knows about your problem before you’re even aware of your problem and solves your problem. So that would be my printer that knows it’s about to run out of ink but then it just reorders itself. And so my ink arrives before my printer runs out ink. The important point, and this is sort of why I’m piggybacking on your emotion. The important point is to understand that different customers will have very different preferences of how they want to interact with you as an organization. Some customers would love automatic execution, everything in my life. Others find it really creepy. How did you know that I was running out of toner? Why is that Mr. Ex guy handing me a package? Some people will find this amazing other people will find this as creepy. And so we really have to understand how people react emotionally and psychologically to having the environment act upon you. One person loves another mother hitting on their shoulder, say hey, you should eat better or whatever. And another person said well, I don’t need that again turn it off. So, companies will have to create a whole array of different connected customer experiences and really understand each customer very well and then to know what’s the connected experience that this customer likes. Even the same customer might want different ones. If I sit down in front of my TV I’m not sure I want NeFlix to merely start streaming a movie. I have to say, Nicolaj, I know what you want. Just give me five, but I can think. And so I think this becomes really, really important to be successful in implementing a connected strategy.

Jim Rembach:    Okay, well, then when I start thinking about the emotion, the emotional intelligence and infusing that and putting that into your organization I started also looking at the immense amount of data that often exists especially when you start talking about customer interactions and a lot of that is historical in nature so it’s a post-mortem activity and insight. However, what we’re talking about is projecting it forward. So now I have to be proactive, reactive, speculative, I have to forecast I have to do all of that. I start looking at the importance of that post-mortem data, that data that has already occurred dead into us being able to maybe pivot and take a different direction. Where does that type of work, where does that type of activity really take place best for organizations?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:      Obviously, data is really, really important. Again just sort of one word of warning I guess that connected strategies are actually not fundamentally about data. Connected strategies are fundamentally about understanding customer needs. And once I understand then I actually know what the relevant data is. So I think a lot of companies currently are actually exactly stuck at this point. Because it has become easy to collect data I’m now sitting on gigabytes of data about you. I know every click you’ve done on every website you ever visit but have no idea what to do with it. And so unfortunately now a lot of companies have said, well, I don’t know but there’s someone else wants to pay me a few pennies for this information let me just sell it off. A lot of firms have gone that route. Now you as a customer being followed by the same ad and whatever website you click and you ask, how the heck did that happen? I think someone sold my information. What we would recommend is actually really start with the needs of the customer. Again with that customer journey and then ask yourself, what kind of information would I need to solve that particular problem? Maybe I don’t have it yet then I need to think about how I can get it. But I think engineering it that way around turns out to be I think way more manageable again. Because I think you’ve just mentioned this earlier, so if I have never done this, how would I even start? I think a lot of companies have started by saying, well, I guess it’s all about data so let’s collect data. And again this is really easy to do but that now they’re struck and they have no idea what to do with it and quite often again they just sell it off. Starting with the a customer journey starting with those needs and then reverse engineering what information I need is quite often much more efficient way to do that.

Jim Rembach:    As you were thinking too I started thinking about the problem that organizations have with quantitative data and qualitative data. So in other to have the number of clicks I have all of these things that are more quantitative in nature, however, I don’t necessarily have insight in the qualitative data that tells me why all those things are occurring and happening and understanding what we were talking about as far as that customer emotion piece. Oftentimes it’s a very core missing element to all of that that will prevent them or cause them to going in the wrong direction and I think it goes back with what you talking about is the whole emotion piece. But ultimately, when it all is said and done there’s revenue models that we have to focus in on if we’re not generating revenue all of this is for naught. You talk about six different revenue models that need to be considered. Can we go into those a little bit?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Sure. The intriguing thing about connected strategies is that all of the sudden the space of dimensions that I can use for a revenue model opens up. In the traditional model you come to a store and you buy a product and you pay the amount and then you own the part, that’s kind of the most traditional way. But what’s the problem with that? The problem with that is that I basically as a company have to extract basically all the future value that you see in that product at that point of purchase and that might be quite hard. Let’s take an example, let’s say, I’m trying to sell you a wonderful great new toothbrush that I promise you will detect cavities and will prevent you from having cavities in the next five years. And you said, wow, that would be an amazing product. And I say okay, I’ll charge you 600 bucks for it. And you said, Wooh, wait a second, if it truly worked I’d be happy to pay you $600 but how do I know it works? So the traditional problem in the traditional revenue model is I put all the risk on you, why trust me? Now that’s hard. 

So now with the connectivity—so now imagine my toothbrush is connected so I can understand when you’re brushing how we’re brushing every day. So now I could actually offer you a performance guarantee. I say okay, if you don’t get a cavity and you use my toothbrush in the way I ask you to do so and you will not get a cavity, are you willing to pay me $100 every year as a subscription fee for the absence of cavities? And now you say, hmmm, okay. Previously I could not do that because I didn’t know whether you’re using my toothbrush correctly or not but now I can do that. So all of a sudden I could have for instance a pay-for-performance contract. Next thing, you’re not having cavities, who else is happy about this? Insurance companies are happy about this because they’re usually paying half of the sort of use that you’re paying which is about a couple hundred dollars every year.  Maybe I can have the insurance companies subsidize my toothbrush. I can maybe get some revenue from insurance companies. The first thing was we can change the—what is being paid for. Is it just kind of the product or is it like a service and performance guarantee. 

The second thing we can change is who is paying. Quite often there are other parties in the ecosystem that generate value from my product. Maybe I’m able to extract that value from that. Thirdly, I can maybe say, well maybe the toothbrush is maybe not the best idea but I could charge you ten cents for every minute you use the toothbrush. I couldn’t do this before. You said, well that are rather silly with the toothbrush but for instance with jet engines, jet engines are now being sold that way. Rolls Royce is not selling a jet engine anymore to an airline they are selling what’s called power by the hour. They’re basically saying I’m selling you an hour of flying time. Now again that is a nice incentive alignment for the airline and the jet engine producer because the airline just says, I only care if this engine is working now when it’s broken. So now Rolls Royce has a very high incentive to make sure that engine is working now they’re gone much more to the maintenance. But again that’s kind of the—when are you paying? 

The other thing is sometimes how we pay can change. Premium models are actually very intriguing example of it. You may know the various games that you play on your phone like Game of Thrones—ah, no Game of Thrones—Clash of Clans, so if I ask you, would you be willing to pay $350 for a game you play on your phone? You probably say, no way I’m not going to pay you $300. But now every day you go, oh, for just for 99 cents I can get an upgrade that gives me that Dragon Slayer and then I can level up. Wow. Sure, what’s 99 cents, we pay $3.95 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks so how about 99 cents? And you do this every day and after a year you spend $360, and as a matter of fact you don’t feel bad about this, why? Because every day actually it was an enjoyable experience that you have. So if you can pull the time when the person actually experiences the value of your product and service if you can make that more closer to the point when the customer is actually paying again if a customer to derives value over time if I try to extract all of that value at the time of purchase that might be really difficult. But if I can charge you a little bit every time you use it because at that time you really see the value in the product or the service maybe you’re much more willing to pay at that time just a little bit. These are some ideas of how connectivity can actually allow us to have a much broader way of different types of revenue models. 

Jim Rembach:    And it also I think brings things full circle so it’s not that we’re doing these things to essentially fit within our existing model of business. Like you’re saying it’s opening up new opportunities of revenue that we’re possibly not taking advantage of that we could. You mentioned even that Rolls Royce example with the (28:14 inaudible) you kind of hit it on a little bit is that they’re actually selling the engine but the entire servicing element that goes along with it because for them, as we all have heard over and over, it’s not the profit or the revenue that they get from the sales of engines it is the whole servicing aspect and then the whole ongoing control of maintenance and actually from a brand perspective is more beneficial for them. 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   And so now again intriguingly—so there is actually a general principle here they’re sort of learning happening at two different levels. There’s the learning at the level of an individual customer or in the Rolls Royce example the learning about the individual engine. So I learn more and more about this engine and in some sense of I know exactly the state of each component inside the engine and so I’m now able actually to go from fix maintenance schedule where every six months I replace this particular component now I can replace it after five months if I need it or after seven months if I need it so I can do this much more effectively. But there’s also learning at the whole level of a population either a population of customers or in this case a population of jet engines because I’ve not just sold you one engine but I’ve sold hundreds of engines to let’s say, United, and now what Rolls Royce is doing is now I’m learning about all of these engines I learn about whether I learn about your routing and I can now actually help you run your machines more efficiently, think about routing more efficiently. And so now I’m starting to save you even fuel. Again there’s a common theme here that what connected strategies allow you to do is kind of what we would call moving up the hierarchy of needs of a customer. There are some fundamental immediate needs that I have but quite often they are more instantiation of deeper underlying needs. I made just one example, I might feel some heart palpitation now and I really want to talk to a cardiologist pretty quickly but really what I would like you to do is to deal with my cardiac problems but really what I would like you to do is to deal with my health issues whether it’s my heart or my elbow and really what I like it to do is to keep me healthy. There are sort of these hierarchy of need. As we are getting deeper connected with a customer we might be able to move up this hierarchy of needs. That really leads to two important consequences. On the one hand, again my happiness as a customer goes up and so I’m willing to pay more for these things because these are really more fundamental needs that I have. 

Secondly for the firm once I actually have achieved this level of a trusted long-term customer relationship all of a sudden I don’t have to compete transaction-by-transaction anymore. All of a sudden I have you now in a relationship, of course I still have to provide value to you that’s not changing, but I don’t have to compete transaction. It would be really tough to do if you have to do this every time you’re interacting with the customer. 

Jim Rembach:    We said it repeatedly and ultimately it drills back down to emotion. We talk about emotion a lot of different ways in the Fast Leaders show. One of the things that we look at are quotes because they can help give us the emotion that we need in order to persevere and achieve and all. Is there a favorite quote that you like then you can share?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   I don’t think I have a favorite quote. One of our favorite examples that we have in the book it’s kind of the magic band in Disney World. Which again kind of gets this dual purpose of on the one hand creating a better customer experience where customers have make it much easier for them to purchase things and to open the hotel room open the fast lane but on the same time allowing Disney to create much more efficient park operations because they know where people are they can direct them to shorter lines. But I’m getting to a quote here, a quotable quotes or statement but the intriguing thing to us again is—if you take the example of—you walk with your girl at Disneyworld and Jack Sparrow comes up and greets your daughter by name and says, hi, Sophia how are you? Wow! That’s amazing, Jack Sparrow knows my name. Of course he knows the name because Sophia’s wearing a magic band and Jack Sparrow has a little handheld device that tells him that Sophia’s coming. And then Jack Sparrow says, Sophia do you remember we met at Anaheim last year? And Sophia goes, this is the most amazing day in my world because Jack Sparrow knows—any character that ever interact with Sophia and any theme park around the world. So Sophia things, that is the most magic day in her life and you as a parent go, man that’s creepy. And so I think—here’s now my quote, connected strategy is quite often run exactly at the border between magic and creepy. And that’s sort of where we’re coming back to this earlier point that I made, you really have to understand your customer really well because again what one person might think it’s a magic experience the other person might think it’s a creepy experience. So that I think kind of the big point to keep in mind as you develop these connected strategies. But again it’s not just one size fits all we need to have a broad array of these different kind of experiences that we can offer. And we need to understand, again sort of coming back to the word emotion, that emotional attachment that people have of how they want to interact with us. Some people just want to have a standoff—let me tell you what I want but then make it as easy for me as possible, that’s kind of response of desire. Whereas, others say you just do it for me, I love it.

Jim Rembach:    I would dare to say that when you start looking at coming to this culmination of your work, and I know it’s never going to end. I mean there’s going to be iterations I think the marketplace is going to force it I think globalization is going to force it AI artificial intelligence is going to force it and all of these things and finding a better spot for the human to create some of those emotional connections that cause that multiple revenue generation opportunities all that’s going to happen so your works never going to end here. However, we all often have to go through humps in order for us to come to these realizations and to learn and to be able to take advantage of these opportunities and to teach others like you’re doing now. Is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump where you learn something that we can all learn something from?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   It’s really interesting when we talk to the Disney team that created this magic band. There are some very interesting learning coming out touching on something that you were earlier asking and that is how to actually create these connected strategies and what are the big obstacles? Again we first thought about, well, it’s about again the technology creating the magic band is a difficult thing. And they said, yeah, that is also important but that’s just money you spend you get your R&D department going and you create these technologies. The really tough thing was the organizational change. How do we actually have different parts of our organization talk to each other and share information with each other? The problem, and this another interesting quote that that he said is, we really forced our customers to work through our organizational chart sometimes you had to deal with our online division then you had to deal with our theme-park division and you have to deal with our hotel division and we basically kind of asked the customer to stitch together these experiences. That I think is again to me kind of very interesting insight that we all talk about customer centricity as being sort of a key word why do we want to really put that customer in the middle but we ourselves are not at all organized that way.  

Our organizations are very much organized by function or by product line and again sort of—when I reflected on that said, wow, we are as universities probably as guilty of this as anyone. So we tell our students you want to appear general managers you need to know everything. You need to get a finance and strategy and marketing and operations and then all of that you need to know. Of course, we are organized by department. And so someone guys teach you strategies from an accounting and marketing and then we said to the student, you stitch this all together and you make sure that all comes together so that you are well-rounded manager. So again this idea of putting yourself into the shoes of a customer or a student and saying, how would that experience actually look like? It’s hard organizationally.

Jim Rembach:    I appreciate the work that you’re doing and that you’re continuing to do. And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor:

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Okay Fast Leader legion now it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Nickolaj the Hump Day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust and rapid responses to help us move onward and upward faster. Nikolaj Siggelkow, are you ready to hoedown? 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   As a German I will try my best.

Jim Rembach:    What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   I’m afraid I’m not very good at delegating.

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   I’m really a good planner but that’s maybe because I’m German. 

Jim Rembach:    What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   My calendar. I need to have structure to my days. 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion, it could be from any genre, of course we’re going to put a link to—Connected Strategy on your show notes page as well.

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   That of course is the most important book, but personally, I love books by Neal Stephenson’s, all kind of novels great books.

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to Siggelkow. Okay, Nikolaj this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25. And you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take it all back you can only choose one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Well, I think it is the kind of the skill to kind of communicate better with other people trying to really understand where people are coming from and really tailoring the way you communicate with other people that’s I think the skill I’m still learning but certainly I hope I’m a little bit better than I was when I was 25. 

Jim Rembach:    Nikolaj, it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they connect with you? 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Absolutely. You can just go to for my personal website or if you want to go to the book website that’s 

Jim Rembach:    Nikolaj Siggelkow, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot! 

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over a so we can help you move onward and upward faster.