Client-Centricity: The heart of Telkom Kenya’s new transformation


IF KRIS SENANU WAS TO go back in time and impart wisdom to a 20-something year old self, that would be the key piece of advice he would give him. He should know; he has worked hard to get to where he is today, earn the respect of his peers and his co-workers, the envy and admiration of those who want to be him and to build a solid reputation.
He wears many hats. He is a savvy investor, a passion he is putting to good use on the Lion’s Den, a television show powered by KCB bank targeting budding entrepreneurs. He also runs BlackRock Capital Investments, an investment company that focuses on the entertainment industry. He serves as vice-chairperson KENIC, in addition to sitting on the Nairobi Securities Exchange’s Growth Enterprises Market Segment (GEMS) board. Before his appointment as Managing Director for Telkom Kenya’s newly created Enterprise Division, Senanu was the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Access Kenya.

He is driven and passionate about all his ventures especially his new role at Telkom Kenya. He points out he’s not in it for the money. He could have taken up a much bigger, higher paying gig at a bluechip company. But the challenge and desire to create a positive impact in a behemoth like Telkom Kenya was too good to resist.

In June this year, private equity firm Helios Investment Partners completed its acquisition of a 60 percent stake in Telkom Kenya from Orange East Africa while the government retained 40 per cent. In the restructuring process that ensued thereafter 4 key divisions were created including a Mobile Division, Enterprise Division, Carrier/Wholesale Division and a Real Estate Division.

The Enterprise division consists of voice products like Biashara Talk, Home Talk and the fixed land lines, that are suited for corporates and SMEs, ISDN, broadband, domain registration and web hosting, connectivity among other solutions.
One of the key strengths that sets Telkom Kenya apart from its competitors is their national infrastructure which spans 42 counties. Companies in various sectors such as the banking industry, insurance and other corporates that are in need of inter-branch connectivity benefit from Telkom Kenya’s extensive reach across the country.

Another part of their core business is to aid in the execution of the National Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Plan by aiding the government in the support and roll-out of Huduma Centres and county connectivity. Telkom Kenya with its diverse geographical and technological infrastructure wants to play an active role in the digitisation and provision of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) services to people in rural areas.

Owing to no fault of their own a number of enterprises have found themselves in a bind when their primary Internet provider is unable to provide them with reliable services. This is one of the areas Telkom Kenya is looking to capitalize on. They want to be the go-to people for enterprises that already have other providers but require a redundancy option, resulting in minimal interruptions to service delivery.
In the days of yore, Telkom Kenya was not known for heart-warming attitude towards its customers. It was not particularly customer centric and this dates back to when it was part of Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC), the sole provider of both postal and telecommunications services.
Dealing with KPTC meant there was no real effort on sales, customer care and client service. Concepts concerning clients and the customer experience were foreign simply because they were a monopoly at the time. Though a splitting of the corporation in 1999 gave birth to Telkom Kenya (and Posta), there was little change in the organization’s culture which in turn led to a decline in the company’s fortunes in latter years. Change was nigh.
Today, a telco is an infrastructure provider, a GSM license holder, internet service provider and many other offerings rolled into one organization. Telkom Kenya cannot afford to get caught flat footed, one size does not fit all. There is a need to change the monopolistic mentality, attitude and culture because it’s competing with many other businesses for the same market.
In this regard Senanu says, “my role here is to change culture, transform people’s attitudes and get people focused on delivering services to the end user. So customer centricity is a very critical part of that culture change.”
Though he has only been at the helm of the newly created Enterprise division for a few months, he says that the reception has been very positive, and points out that transformational change needs adequate time for it to really take root. He goes on to add that cultures in an organization are built top-down and bottom-up and while it’s not something that was unusual to Telkom Kenya, it needed a leader to champion it.
“It takes time for cultural change to permeate to the bottom. Training is required and there is also a need for cultural champions within the company who espouse the values and the tenets of the culture that you are seeking to institute,” he says.
Part of the strategy to ensure this culture permeates all facets of the organization is injection of new blood as the company grows and infecting the old guard with the new cultural shift, keeping in mind people who are resistant to

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