CXREFRESH was incorporated to create a global community of CX leaders and thought leaders who will come together to create world class CX strategies for businesses to grow. In our quest to showcase industry leaders and iconic professionals on CXREFRESH, we got a chance to meet Mr. Kashish Ahuja, Chief Experience Officer, Excitel Broadband.

Know how Excitel is transforming CX benchmarks in the competitive ISP domain.


Kashish is a part of the core team at Excitel with primary objective of growth & expansion. He is a renowned business leader with 15 years of rich experience in managing various functions & digital transformations across industries. Known for his result-oriented approach, his key strengths are formulating robust strategies, building high performing teams; backed by strong execution focusing on Customer Experience, Value Generation & Cost Optimization. Before Excitel, Kashish held key roles in Customer Experience & Marketing with companies like American Express, Home Credit & Hyatt Hotels.

Excerpts from his interview: Q&A

Q. We see that very recently you have taken up a new job, what is your role now with Excitel?

A. Yes, it’s been a few months since I joined Excitel which is an Internet Service Provider, I am a part of the core team with growth & expansion as our primary objective. From strategy to execution, I am accountable for everything that touches the customer. It’s a new industry for me so there is learning, some challenges & a lot of excitement. At present, I invest most of my time in studying the existing CRM landscape, shaping up essential processes, profiling our customer, understanding their challenges & expectations.

Q. What do you think is great customer experience in today’s age?

A. Customer expectations are ever evolving, there is a shift in customer behavior every now & then. Due to cut-throat competition, we must learn to value customer expectations & consistently adapt. Personalization has become very important, they want you to know their preferences & expect customized interactions (tailor made for them). More & more customers now prefer digital channels to communicate, be it a Mobile Application/website or Social Media, Email/Chat – any company’s Customer Relationship Management needs to be constantly evolving with customer needs in order to stay relevant in the industry.

Q. How do you build a CX strategy?

A. I would do this in three steps – First, use available data from internal sources to understand what your customers feel, identify what triggers dissatisfaction & what they appreciate. Second, draw a customer persona, draft an engaging discussion guide covering all aspects that can help you understand customer sentiment w.r.t. a product/service, conduct some focus groups, personal interviews & digital surveys directly with the customer. Third, stitch it all together to address gaps & expectations, improve processes, arrive at what can be potential wow factors, you could use what they already appreciate about you or innovate using learnings from the research to create these ‘wow factors’  that give you the competitive advantage.

Q. How do you identify the problems in your current CX strategy?

A. In order to measure how good or bad your CX strategy is, one must periodically solicit feedback from customers, could be in terms of Customer Satisfaction surveys or even Net Promoter Score through any digital channel. Though, not too often, else it could irritate your customers but just enough for you to know how your customers feel about your product or service, how they think you are doing right or wrong & you must use these insights to constantly sharpen your CX strategy – this is the most important part of this exercise.

Q. How do you think you can create an unfair advantage in CX in this futuristic competitive business environment?

A. Proactive versus Reactive – Don’t wait for the customer to point out where you’re going wrong, have systems in place that are monitoring your relationship with the customers, even the interactions & based on some predefined internal triggers such as usage patterns & external triggers such as market trends, you can proactively know if something needs to be addressed so you can take immediate corrective steps to recover before you’ve lost the customer.

Q. How is your organization making personalized interactions better during this entire journey?

A. We’re always trying to make it easier for the customer, be it reciprocating each customer’s choice of communication channel, or be it implementing a strong omnichannel CRM system so we can capture details from all previous interactions across touch points, highlight customized offers for customer benefit in order to value & strengthen the relationship. We’re trying to use a lot of data intelligence to build a strong CRM system which enables us to deliver unparalleled personalized experiences.

Q. Why do you think that the CX strategies should not work in silos?

A. Customer Experience cannot be a departmental goal, it must be a culture that is embedded consistently – the very system an organization lives by. In a customer life cycle, they may touch different departments and CX should be a consistent binding force built into the DNA of all employees across the organization in order to ensure seamless customer experience. The team in action – breaking the silos @ Excitel HQ, New Delhi.

Reading time: 4 min
Customer Experience, CXREFRESH, CX,

Many current business models are being disrupted. Retailers that are just providing shelf space will soon be out of business. Amazon is continually disrupting existing business models by combining a customer experience based on utility, with convenience at the center of their strategy.

The multi-channel buying habits of consumers demanding a seamless experience pose complex challenges businesses.

Businesses that are thriving have figured out ways to design experiences that attract and retain customers by offering a personal experience that is relevant and personal. Sometimes entirely new business models are required, other times altering the existing model is all that is required.

Creating new products is a daunting task. One study has identified what they term a “decay curve”. According to this study, it takes over fifty ideas to create a new product. By ideas they mean an idea that has been screened, analyzed, developed, tested and marketed.

The Customer Experience Challenge

The customer landscape is rapidly changing, it’s being transformed by a confluence of technology, the internet, and new consumer social behaviors. Digital transformations in unrelated industries play a role in shaping consumer expectations in all industries. For example, when Starbuck’s created their mobile app that enabled increasingly elaborate purchasing interactions, other industries began to look for mobile solutions.

The availability of smart devices provided unprecedented mobile computing power for consumers. As the adoption rate of these devices has soared, so have expectations for a personal, seamless mobile experience.

In the new consumer landscape disruption isn’t a destination or an event, it’s a journey. Companies that want to survive recognize that the reality of the new competitive ecosystem requires new rules of engagement. This shift in mindset starts at the top, it’s a critical success factor.

Consider some of these statistics

According to McKinsey over half of all customer interactions happen during a multi-channel journey.

Today’s internet consumers want their online questions to be addressed promptly; 42% expect a response within one hour.  Source Gigya

45% of consumers prefer a cross-channel combination of online, mobile, and in-store shopping. Source Gigya

68% of consumers agree that shopping today is less about brands or products themselves and more about what they are feeling and needing. Source Gigya

74% of modern consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions. Source Gigya

86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. Source CEI.

Various studies detail levels of customer frustration with the friction they encounter in many organizations. Having to wait on hold for lengthy periods of time, repeat the same information to multiple employees across multiple channels, and failing to get their questions answered in a timely fashion are just a few examples of friction.


The Customer Experience Solution

McKinsey’s research dispels the traditional buying funnel. In the new landscape, consumers operate differently. The new buying process is more like a journey than a linear trek through buying stages. To be relevant firms must recognize that their customer’s experience journeys vary depending on the product or service they are offering. These journeys are continually evolving with the rapid pace of digital innovation.

A few journey examples might be:

  • Onboarding
  • Making a payment
  • Resolving a customer service issue
  • Billing
  • Reordering
  • Checking product or service availability

Brands that are closing the customer experience gap are finding ways to remove friction by transforming the customer experience from moments to journeys. Even more critical, is evaluating the efficacy and experience of each journey from the customer’s perspective.

Most companies are finding ways to get their employees in close proximity to their customers so they can observe and interact with customers to gain an empathetic perspective. In an ecosystem, solutions may be found outside your existing buying process.

Customers expect a seamless multi-channel experience that gives them access whenever wherever and however they choose to connect. When in the midst of a journey, they expect to continue with the process from their last contact point.

50% of all customer interactions happen during a multi-event, multi-channel journey.

Embracing the Customer Experience Challenge.

Removing friction requires agility, collaboration, engaged stakeholders and a culture that nurtures continuous learning and an accurate understanding of what matters most to the consumer. Consumers and brands now function in a world of constant innovation; all are subjected to a barrage of multi-channel noise each and every day.

Here are five factors that can contribute to a satisfying and differentiating customer experience.


An innovative culture is the fertile soil of new ideas and innovation. It creates the space where the mission, vision, and values of the firm align with the behaviors of the employees. At its best, it’s a community of all stakeholders working toward a common goal.

Are you part of creating a culture that values the customer experience? When values are aligned employees are motivated to serve the customer and each other. Is everyone able to articulate the mission and values?  Are new employees screened for behavioral alignment with the values of the organization?


Feedback is the fuel of innovation. Giving and receiving feedback is a skill that must be developed and honed. Our biology works against us. The brain doesn’t always appreciate feedback, especially the developmental kind.

The folks at IDEO, a design thinking firm, are careful about language. Because they must provide a lot of feedback they have adopted language that encourages candid feedback. When critiquing they use two types of statements:

“ I like …….”

“I wish….”

I like is obvious, I wish is a way to communicate improvement feedback without any judgmental baggage. Personally, I like these statements and I’ve found them quite useful.

Social media has created the opportunity for a dialogue with customers and associates. Emerging tools offer marketers a means by which they can monitor and even enter conversations. However, it’s important to understand the appropriate etiquette to avoid missteps and maximize the benefit.

Asking customers, prospects, and employees open-ended questions is a very useful practice. We are often blinded by our own knowledge and assumptions. Allowing, even encouraging candid feedback is a helpful way to identify opportunities and challenges.

Good listening practices can serve as an early warning detection system allowing companies to respond before potential problems become serious ones.


Consumers are frustrated by an inability to get:

  • answers to their questions
  • resolution to their problems

According to an American Express survey, 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made the intended purchase because of a poor service experience.

More importantly, when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers spend 20% to 40% more money with the company than other customers do.

Many companies spend a great deal of time and effort defining the customer’s journey. They realize that designing an engaging customer experience can offer many benefits and ultimately have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Try asking your associates a few open-ended questions about their experience with each other, customers, supplies. Ask them about suggestions for improving their lives.


Customers expect quick answers and solutions; this is essential if you are committed to listening socially. Even if you aren’t committed to social listening customers are increasingly presuming you will be listening or they’ll switch to a competitor.

Associates need the tools, training, and trust to quickly handle and resolve customer questions and complaints without transferring consumers from one department to the other. Ask frontline stakeholders to identify gaps and barriers that create friction and slow down responses. Are these gaps created internally? Externally? Experiment with design changes that offer faster solutions. In some cases, self-service options may be an effective alternative.

Speed is often relative, so it’s important to appropriately set and manage expectations. Make use of the feedback loop to develop an appropriate understanding of how your customer defines speed.


If companies are going to transform the customer experience from moments to journeys, then they’ll have to be willing to continuously learn and make adjustments. This is a new paradigm for many because it may feel more like a laboratory than a business. Successful companies will always be innovating, trying new ideas and methods, keeping what works and dropping what doesn’t.


Reading time: 6 min
Customer Experience, CX Strategies, HR

HR heads who are not aligning themselves to CX strategies would definitely fail.

When organizations don’t embed CX into key HR processes like hiring, training, and rewards and recognition, they miss a prime opportunity to foster an environment that enables employee CX success.

While it may seem counterintuitive, any organization that wants to deliver a great customer experience shouldn’t focus on its customers first, but rather on its employees. Engaged employees are valuable assets, and they trigger a virtuous cycle that drives great customer experiences, leading to more loyal customers and stronger financial results.

Yet despite research showing that more than 70 percent of companies have an ongoing commitment to significant employee engagement efforts, the level of employee engagement inside companies did not change between 2017 and 2018. One of the reasons companies struggle to engage employees is that their HR department does not participate enough in these efforts. In fact, when we work with large organizations, we often find that the HR groups haven’t fully embraced their role in either the company’s customer experience or employee engagement efforts, and that disconnect matters! When an HR group is significantly involved in an organization’s CX efforts with employees, the company is four times more likely to deliver a customer experience that is significantly above average in its industry.

For companies that want to deliver a great customer experience, employee engagement is not optional.


  • Customer centricity is getting more attention. HR professionals not only indicated an increase in the belief that their companies need to become more customer-centric; they also reported higher levels of participation in this change. The percentage of HR professionals who responded that they are significantly helping their organizations become more customer-centric doubled over the past four years from 15 to 31 percent.
  • HR is finding niches for CX collaboration. Six out of 10 HR respondents felt they were at least considerably involved in their company’s CX efforts, with HR leading the work in adjusting hiring and recruiting practices. When it comes to HR and CX teams working together, they are most successful in incorporating CX into training and onboarding and developing measurements and incentives to reinforce good customer-centric behaviors.
  • HR has more time and wants more CX outreach. When it comes to the obstacles that impede HR professionals’ ability to help their companies become more customer-centric, the obstacle that dropped the most the last four years is HR professionals not having enough time. The only obstacle that increased over the last four years, coming in as the second most common obstacle, is that the CX organization has not engaged HR.

Finding Ways for HR and CX to Work Together

There are many opportunities for HR and CX to work together, especially in the existing processes and activities that the HR organization manages for the company. Here are a few specific opportunities for CX/HR collaboration:

  • Hiring and onboarding. CX and HR professionals can collaborate on ways to screen individuals for the attitudes and abilities needed to deliver on the company’s CX vision.
  • Training and development. CX subject matter expertise and instructional design skills are often divided between the two departments. CX pros can work shoulder-to-shoulder with HR to contribute the required knowledge to design and deliver training to help employees become more customer-centric.
  • Performance management. Many organizations put a lot of energy into defining what they want to accomplish, but don’t adequately define how employees need to act in order to achieve those objectives. CX and HR can work together to ensure that employee goal setting and evaluation processes include role-specific expectations or measures of success that connect employees’ efforts to the CX strategy.
  • Rewards and recognition. When embarking on CX change, it’s important for the company to examine how it recognizes and rewards employees. CX and HR teams can make sure the desired employee behaviors are reinforced with the appropriate formal reward programs, peer-to-peer recognition opportunities, and team celebrations.

The bottom line is that unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers. Now is the time for the CX and HR teams to come together to engage employees in the company’s customer experience efforts.


Reading time: 3 min
CXREFRESH, CX, Customer Experience, CX Strategies, New Age Entrepreneurs

Consider the rise of customer success. Because 70 percent of consumers feel contacting customer service is a frustrating experience, few speak up until they’ve had a truly bad time. The trouble is, just one negative experience is all it takes to send more than half of consumers packing for a competitor. 

That’s why, instead of waiting for customers to call in, customer success managers monitor usage data like average session duration and login frequency. Although customers might hesitate to reach out about a page that won’t load, constant refreshing can signal that they’re struggling.

But customer success isn’t the only area where leaders need to pay attention. By sleuthing out signals in audience data, entrepreneurs can identify unmet needs, root out unwanted functionalities, and discover new ways to monetize existing products.

With almost any product, highly engaged users make up a small percentage of total users. Among those talking about the product, however, engaged users tend to dominate the conversation. As a result, companies often assume that what engaged users want is what the user base as a whole wants.

Shared some insights for every type of company to consider when it comes to improving CX.

  • To the customer, it’s all one big team: Customers don’t care which department they talk to when they need help. They just want to get their questions answered and their problems resolved. A company may have different teams, but the customer doesn’t care. As mentioned above, the solution is to bring all interactions and data into one place. When technology doesn’t work together, neither can teams. When teams can’t work together, they can’t give a personalized customer experience. This frustrates both customers and employees.
  • Create consistency in your processes to create consistency for the customer: When companies get big, they often have multiple teams with multiple processes. This can become painfully frustrating for customers who end up talking to different people in different departments. There could be conflicting information and explanations. That leads to confusion, and often a loss of confidence. Ultimately, that can lead to lost business.

The company may define its brand promise, but it is the customer who decides whether or not the company delivered on its promise. There’s a lot riding on delivering a positive customer experience. You hire and train good people, but you must also give them the tools they need to deliver a CX that not only meets the customers’ expectations but makes them want to come back. Be there for them – no matter how they reach out to you – be consistent, and build your brand through satisfied customers.

Consumers interact with brands across a multitude of touch points through the buyer’s journey. Every interaction makes an impact on your prospects that will set the stage for the relationship, making it crucial to ensure that every touch point comes with a positive experience, but above all, companies must monitor the big picture: the total experience customers have from end-to-end in doing business with your company.

In order to gain more meaningful insights into the results, we had respondents categorize themselves into one of four levels: ignore, novice, competent, and mature.

  • Ignore
     – These are companies that don’t view customer experience as a crucial differentiator. There are no efforts towards developing a CX strategy or measuring CX initiatives.
  • Novice – These are companies that recognize the need to improve a customer’s experience. They’ve put basic steps in place to identify and measure CX-related issues, but don’t have a clear CX strategy in place.
  • Competent – These companies make an effort to deliver a high-quality experience for their customers. They have a clear CX strategy with processes firmly in place to measure results.
  • Mature – These are the cream of the customer experience crop. Their CX strategy is embedded in everything they do. Customer feedback forms the core of their strategy and decision-making, and they continuously iterate their CX practices to meet customer demand.

Only 12% of companies identify as being Mature CX companies, while 38% identify themselves as Young, 40% as First Steps, and 10% as ignore.

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Reading time: 3 min