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Why The Heck Did Kris Senanu Join Telkom Enterprise? – Part Three

For various reasons, some in my control and others not, this post got massively delayed and its great to finally get it done! This is the third part that follows part one and part two of an interview I had with Kris Senanu a few months ago.

In the second part of this interview, Kris spoke to me about the three key drivers that made him join Telkom Kenya from AccessKenya after it had been acquired by South Africa’s Internet Solutions and rebranded accordingly.

He also explained why it felt like the right move after he had spent close to 20 years ‘fighting’ Telkom Kenya in one way or another through the various companies he had worked for in Kenya.

When Telkom Kenya came calling Kris was up for it and was thrilled at the opportunity to be part of a team that would make massive changes at the ‘sleeping giant’. Kris would specifically look at changing aspects like the company culture and injecting a new DNA that would help Telkom Kenya transform itself with new and existing team members.

Ultimately, Kris is working on creating a customer-centered culture that has woken up the sleeping giant. In this third and final part of my interview with Kris Senanu. Here is what we discussed:

Moses Kemibaro: Because you are talking about injecting new DNA, the culture, and meritocracy, what are the things you are having to do to make tangible changes at Telkom Kenya? Can you share without disclosing anything sensitive or competitive?

Kris Senanu: I don’t have a problem disclosing as anyone that has joined or left Telkom Kenya or has looked at Telkom Kenya from an external perspective knows what the bigger issue is. The bigger issue is people and culture.

Moses Kemibaro: So, it’s not a tech play?

Kris Senanu: It’s not a tech play and it’s not a financial play. Helios Capital has a great track record if you look at the companies they invest in? They put in money and they put in the right management and then leave them to do their thing and succeed. It’s not about the money. It’s not about technology. It’s a people challenge. You asked about tangibles? There is no strategic formula. It’s the people!

Moses Kemibaro: Telkom Kenya after all has the infrastructure, right?

Kris Senanu: We have the infrastructure so it’s about service. It’s about client orientation. We must give our customers service. I still remember my father’s landline number from the time he worked in Eldoret – its 400672. So, basically, Telkom Kenya needs to have an opportunity to convert all these customers who are still upset with us being unreliable and not caring for them.

If they can just feel that now we care, that now we are ready to service them, to give them what is due to them, then we will turn this business around. This is not magic. We just need to give our customers what they are paying for so that if they have a service from us then we make sure that its up and running, as expected.

Moses Kemibaro: At the very least?

Kris Senanu: At the very least. Then, start looking at issues of price. Then, we start looking at issues of value addition. So, just the basics. One of the basics is retraining our people in customer orientation by waking them up from the 80s and 90s when Telkom Kenya was a monopoly to realize there is competition because some of our people are still stuck in that era. So, my challenge is a people and culture thing as its about delivering great service to the customer.

Moses Kemibaro: Do you see this as your role, because the enterprise business is where you are focussed, spreading implicitly throughout the rest of Telkom Kenya?

Kris Senanu: Yes. Totally!

Moses Kemibaro: Is there a mandate for that as well?

Kris Senanu: Yes, definitely as the change will happen by both osmosis and cross-pollination. It’s a focussed business unit and so it’s going to be a nexus of change at Telkom Kenya.

Moses Kemibaro: So, you guys are the catalysts?

Kris Senanu: Yes, that’s what we are.

Moses Kemibaro: So, it’s about waking up the sleeping giant through people and processes, using meritocracy to create the structures, and changing the attitudes and behaviours by helping people to address the human side?

Kris Senanu: Yes, at the end of the day let’s look at it from the point of view of customer engagement at Telkom Kenya? As a customer, or a potential customer or even as a past customer, you got damaged at some point because of how we engaged you.

If a salesperson came to see you who was unpresentable or unprofessional, or you called in with an issue and the person who responded was unprofessional, then it’s the basics that made us fail. It’s not that everyone was bad but it just takes one bad engagement and you lose a customer. That’s it, since you as a customer the just move on to other options in the market.

Our customer touch points really do matter! Is it the way the sales contact happened? Did a service resolution happen, as promised, and on time? How is billing handled? Its everything! Its looking at each of these touch points and saying, ‘how can I improve them?’. Or rather, ‘how can I make them customer-centric?’.

Because, believe me, the customer has not been at the centre of our operations at Telkom Kenya in the past. This is about making Telkom Kenya customer-centric from a culture point of view, from a process point of view, and finally from a strategic point of view.

Moses Kemibaro: I think that’s it Kris. Thank you for this interview and all the best with making Telkom Kenya awesome!

Kris Senanu: Thank you Moses. See you in a year’s time when you would have tasted the fruits of Telkom Kenya’s labour.

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