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I’m just a phone call away; Fuzu’s Charles Gakuru

Each day has to be a discovery for me.

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Each day has to be a discovery for me.

There are those days when we don’t feel sociable. It’s normal and happens to most people, both introverts and extroverts. It might be because one is tired or not feeling up to it. But what if your job entails being in a social situation all day long? You can’t afford to frown or sulk when you are the point of interaction between the clients and your company. Each interaction gives a representation of how your company is the better option.

Charles Gakuru knows this very well. He’s part of Fuzu's telesales team. The team that plays a vital role in ensuring that Fuzu maintains a human touch in this digital age of customer service where chatbots are taking over. We had a chat and here’s what he had to say.

When's the last time you did something you consider a failure?

I was late to two crucial meetings and it really bothered me for sometime. Also not being able to meet set target bothers me and I evaluate what went right and wrong and areas to improve on and strengthen.

The world celebrated Father’s Day the other day. How would you say your dad moulded you to be the man you are today?

My father is a great man! He taught me to listen before reacting, to love and be kind to everyone - never get into a fight, verbal or physical. He taught me to be analytical and think and to learn and read. He taught me so much and pushed me and still does. He taught me that education is important. He showed me that I should be present for family - he never missed any parent function, visiting or milestone - and he did this for all of us(my sister and brother).

You joined Fuzu earlier this year, if we were sitting here to celebrate your first anniversary and what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what achievement do you think we’ll be celebrating?

The biggest achievement was coming up with the telesales process that we are using at the moment. We came into a space where they had a solid idea but needed a process and people for execution. I was part of the team that came up with the process.

The other achievement I’m looking forward to is helping Fuzu become the go to platform for every employer. Making that first call won’t be a hustle. You’ll be like, “Hi, my name is Charles and I’m from Fuzu,” and employers will easily buy in because they know our brand. It will then be easier to get jobs for the unemployed youth.

There’s an art to telemarketing. It starts with a great product and a telesales agent who has good attitude, business and phone etiquette. What tops your list of dos and don’ts?

The first thing you have to do is have an understanding of the service or product you are selling. Once you have an understanding, you’ll be able to listen and figure out the clients’ pain points and how they want to be served. At that point you’ll be providing a solution for them.

So your approach is more of solution-driven?

Yes, look at it this way. You wouldn’t be using toothpaste if you didn’t know its value, there are different types of toothpastes with varying prices but you go for the one that best serves you. A smoker who is quitting will go for a smokers’ toothpaste but you who has normal teeth will opt to use one that will strengthen and brighten your teeth. So everyone has a different need and needs tailored solutions. As for the don’ts, don’t be too quick to judge or rush a client through the conversation. Take your time to understand what they want and make them feel you are concerned.

Do you ever come across difficult clients? How do you handle them?

There will always be that one client who you won’t be able to get through to. But if you constantly follow up and show that you want to offer them something, it gets to a point where they are so annoyed with you that they have no choice but to listen to you. But that pestering shouldn’t get to a point of nagging. Offering freebies also helps to connect with clients, chances are they have no idea or experience of what you are selling.

Non-growth is a real deal breaker, how do you ensure that your career is in forward momentum?

The biggest thing I have learnt in my life is that you have to constantly read to improve yourself. Reading on how to improve yourself, change your career or how to impact others is important for me. So I constantly check out for the latest trends in marketing, sales and also how to conduct myself professionally and become a valuable team player. I believe reading and getting additional skills ensures that you grow.

What about not feeling like your role is a routine?

You have to get yourself excited. Routine gets boring and the good thing is that I’m not alone in this. I’ve got friends and colleagues to talk to and they inspire me. When we make a sale, our colleagues celebrate with us and that pushes us to do better.

You studied Gender & Development studies & Political Science. How did you get end up in sales & customer service? Are you planning to pursue development related careers in the near future? 

I pursued Gender and Development to get an understanding of the society. I got to learn about things I never thought about, getting a perspective on how things affect men, women and children. This helped grow and connect with people more. Political Science is about politics and history which I have always loved since high school.

When the time comes and I get an opportunity, I will pursue a career in community development. I’ll have to practise what I learnt. I believe the society is always changing and being a cog wheel of transformation in the society is a great thing.

What drives You To Succeed Everyday?

My biggest driver is the fear of life coming to an end without achieving what I wanted to achieve in life - not living up to my full potential. Each day has to be a discovery for me. On the hand, no one wants to die poor. My biggest fear is being poor and not able to sustain myself and have to depend on someone.

You wake up for more commas and zeros?

(Chuckles) Yes, you could say that.

I know a little mystery goes a long way. But what’s that one thing no one or little people know about you?

I’m good at writing poetry. There’s this site I tried out when I was in campus and I actually published a few poems. Someone said they were good enough to be in a Hallmark card.

What was your expectation vs the reality when you joined Fuzu? Were you expecting it to be your typical organization?

No. The moment I knew Fuzu was different was when I came on the first day. The whole environment, the office and how the interview was conducted, I knew it was a place that was inspiring and I’d learn a lot. My expectation of the role, I knew it would be challenging as it is. I knew I’d have to do more than I anticipated or what I had done in my previous role.

Being in a start up means you have spanners thrown in the works every so often. You have to change how you were doing things yesterday. That ever-evolving change on how to do things in order to move from point A to B, I expect that but didn’t think it would be this intense. The shocker was when I was told I don’t have to dress formally every day, I can dress casually. That was a good thing because I believe in just being comfortable.

Written by

Kelvin Mokaya

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