A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: Envision Telephony, Seattle
Who: Rodney Kuhn, 38, founder and CEO.
Mission: Help product call centers manage and improve customer service.
Fast talk: We’ve all heard those magic words, “This call may be monitored for quality control.” Envision is behind this, manufacturing the software that helps companies gather, collate and analyze calls to their service line.
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One-stop shop: Kuhn said customers should be able to get what they need from a single call. “We are in a down economy, so it is more important to retain the customers you have and avoid losing them to the competition,” he said. “So keeping them satisfied has become very important.”
Financials: The private company doesn’t disclose financial details. “We are north of 10 [million in revenue] and south of 20 [million] a year,” Kuhn said, adding that the company has been profitable for eight out of the past nine quarters.
Early warning system: The software listens for keywords, references to specific products or places, and voice-stress levels.
Searching for meaning: If a lot of defective-product calls are originating from a certain area, a pre-emptive recall may be in order. If a large number of customers are canceling service and mentioning a competitor, the strategy could be to undercut that deal before losing any more customers.
Game plan: Some customer-service personnel don’t like being taped until they see how it can improve their performance. The data can bring forward the strengths and weaknesses of a particular individual or crew. In some cases, the practices of a top-selling phone bank helped the poorest performer.
Looking ahead: Kuhn said support is a necessary investment and a competitive advantage. “You don’t make any money on a support call,” Kuhn said. “But you will sell someone their next computer. If you get a satisfying support experience from a Dell employee, the next computer you buy will be a Dell.”
— Charles Bermant