A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week: Envision Telephony

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Envision Telephony, a Seattle company developing customer-relationship management software.

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Rodney Kuhn, founder and chief executive, and Ted Lubowsky, vice president for sales and marketing


115, including 80 in the Seattle area

When founded:


A recent winner:

Envision was honored with the “business product of the year” award at the WSA’s Industry Achievement Awards ceremony.

What it does:

The company develops software to improve the performance of call-center employees. Its products can record phone calls and coach employees. Last year, it broadened into business-intelligence tools that help a company better understand transactions with a customer.

An idea over lunch:

Kuhn had been working at Active Voice, a Seattle communications-software company, in the early 1990s when he went to lunch with a former consulting client. The client suggested that Kuhn start his own company, and would eventually connect Kuhn with an investment banker.

Rising fortunes:

The privately held business said it is profitable and had record revenue in the third and fourth quarters of 2004. Kuhn collected $200,000 in seed money from three outside investors and hasn’t accepted any venture funding since then. “Our business is on fire right now,” he said, “so there’s no reason for us to go out and dilute our shareholders and employees just by gaining money that we don’t need.”

Less live chat:

The trend toward conducting live online chats with customers has pretty much peaked, Lubowsky said. Now, companies are looking at offering more online self-service so that a customer can get answers without having to interact with a live agent.

Finding a niche:

Customers include America Online, Nordstrom, Office Depot and Starbucks. Envision recently opened an office in the United Kingdom and is expanding internationally. The trend toward outsourcing call centers hasn’t hurt Envision’s business, Lubowsky said.


“A quality experience with an organization starts when you talk to that agent or e-mail that agent,” Lubowsky said. “If you call and have a bad experience, you’re probably going to go to the competition.”

— Kim Peterson