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Article : The Four Freedoms Of Games And Gamification

#contactcenterworld, @puzzelsolutions

Bjørn-Rune Hanssen, Gamification Manager at Intelecom explains why it’s good to experiment and fail when it comes to gamification in contact centres.

According to UK & US Contact Centre HR & Operational Benchmarking Reports, agent attrition rates in the UK averaged 22% in 2015. Globally, it is much higher. Reports that employee disengagement and staff unhappiness in contact centres is costing the UK economy £2.3 billion every year. It is well known within the industry that keeping agents motivated and happy is a massive challenge.

Why is it so hard to keep agents happy and engaged? We know games and gamification can be used to great effect here, but what makes games effective motivators to begin with? What is it about games that engage humans, and what is it that makes them different from ‘real life’?

An MIT professor named Scot Osterweil has defined a concept which he called The Four Freedoms of Play, a concept which explains much of the learning and motivational value of games. This is worth exploring because it provides some useful guidance on how to gamify successfully and it can help explain why your employees are disengaging.

The Freedom To Fail

The first of Osterweil’s freedoms, and possibly the most important of them, is the freedom to fail. Games by their very nature, allow the player to fail without persistent and harmful consequences, as opposed to the real world where failure usually comes with repercussions. In the contact centre, failure on the part of the agent can result in negative customer experiences, and could lose the company money.

As a rule, this doesn’t happen in the world of games. You fell down? That’s alright, go back to the start, try again and learn from your mistakes. Now you know that you can’t actually do that jump, so try something else. This is how the gamer learns the game; it is how they become masters of their craft. As the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy; there is no better teacher than failure, and there is no better environment for failure than that of a game.

Losing a customer in the real world is not the same as losing a game. However, that’s not to say you can’t allow your agents some slack. Instead of treating errors as something to be punished, think of them as opportunities for learning and improving service.

The Freedom To Experiment

In the real world, people and companies generally avoid trying new things if the old things they are doing seem to be working (and even when they aren’t, we are still generally averse to experimentation). To illustrate, consider a PBX-based contact centre solution which ‘gets the job done’. It may be a hard sell to upgrade to a cloud solution, as the PBX is ‘good enough’. A cloud solution might be massively beneficial, removing frustrations for agents, managers, and customers alike, but it’s just such effort, and that associated risk.

Games get around this kind of thinking through the previously mentioned tolerance of failure, but even if you don’t fail you’re still allowed to do things multiple times. That allows you to try different strategies, use different information, and accomplish your goals in different ways. Maybe the way you did it first was the best. Or maybe you find a way that is fifty times quicker and simpler. And the best part of it is, there is no cost to trying!

It is important to realise that these freedoms are not binary. It’s not a matter of having them or not having them, but of to what degree you have them. Even within games these freedoms are restricted to varying degrees. Which means that you might want to look at your contact centre with an eye to seeing how much freedom to experiment your agents have. And maybe consider if the work flow scripts your agents are required to follow are truly necessary, and if they are really conducive to improving your agents’ motivation. Probably not.

The Freedom Of Identity

We all live our lives behind a few different identities, such as the professional, spouse, son or daughter. These identities are distinct, but also borne out of expectation: You can’t be the spouse at work, it would be weird to be the professional when you’re chatting with your friends and family.

Games allow you to redefine yourself as you wish, to free yourself from the shackles of expectation and even reality. Games don’t want you to be yourself, in any real version. They want you to be a wizard, a spy or the captain of a spaceship fighting aliens. Or become an actual alien yourself.

You might think that while this sounds freeing and nice, it’s not very useful. Think of it like this, games allow you to not just see things from someone else’s perspective, but to be that someone else. What better way to train your contact centre agents to provide excellent service, than to have them take on the role of the customer demanding it?

The more authentic you make your scenarios, the better the agent will learn, and the more empathetic and helpful they may be when in the future they end up talking to someone in the same role they once played.

The Freedom Of Effort

There are limits to how much effort anyone is willing to put into anything. A child may run around the playground for ages playing tag, perfectly avoiding capture, until suddenly stopping and allowing capture. They’ve reached the limit of how much effort they are willing to invest in the activity.

This happens at work, too, but unlike on the playground the employee never has the option to simply stop working. The calls and e-mail keeps coming and in response to this never-ending torrent of work, a lot of agents disengage or at the very least lose focus. But gamers can play for hours on end, putting in masses of effort in the process, seemingly without disengaging or losing focus. Why?

The answer is that games allow you to take breaks as required. Single player games can be paused or interrupted. Multiplayer games usually give you plenty of opportunities to take some time off or at any point you can simply leave the game if you don’t want to play anymore.

In the context of work, this idea sounds horribly inefficient, but there may be some lessons to learn. You could, for example, implement a system where your agents earn ‘break points’ that they can cash in for pause time, or they can save to cash in for other rewards. It might be costly to allow agents to take too much time off the line during their shift, but ask yourself this question, would you rather have agents on 100% of the time, but actively disengaged and frustrated for half that time? Or have agents on 90% of the time, but ready and up for it the entire time?

What This Means

By default, life severely restricts these freedoms, so one might question the benefit in considering them. As mentioned, I believe it may be helpful to think of them as continuums, where the question isn’t ‘do you have the freedom to fail’, but ‘how much freedom to fail do you have’. Less freedom means more frustration and more disengagement, which drives costs up and lowers customer satisfaction. If you keep these perspectives in mind and make an effort to increase the degree of freedom experienced by your agents, maybe through the use of games and gamification measures, you will soon see a return on investment, with agents, the contact centre and organisation all becoming winners.

#contactcenterworld, @puzzelsolutions

About Bjørn-Rune Hannsen:
Bjorn-Rune’s role is to develop and manage Intelecom’s gamification product content and strategy. With nearly 10 years’ experience in digital technology, including game design, his focus is on bridging the gap between making training a primary differentiator for contact centres and the perceived expense of agent education programmes.

About Puzzel:
Company LogoPuzzel (formerly Intelecom) builds on 20 years’ heritage. It was one of the first pioneers to develop a cloud-based contact centre. Puzzel also encompasses leading mobile messaging and mobile payments to deliver a flexible and customisable customer interaction platform to meet the needs of today’s omni-channel and mobile environments. Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, Puzzel employs over 130 people who are all passionate about delivering innovative customer interaction solutions for contact centres and mobile environments.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Queue Settings

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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2023 Buyers Guide Speech Technology

Premium Listing
Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.


VoiSentry is a voice biometric engine for speaker verification / identification. It is delivered as a virtual instance to be controlled by an application via APIs and can be deployed in whatever is the most appropriate environment i.e. public cloud, private cloud or on-premise. It is generally deployed as a white-label or OEM product, whereby Aculab’s partner integrates it into their own solution/platform and offers it as an integral part of their service. Unless they go public with it, none of their clients would even know that it was Aculab’s VoiSentry engine under the hood. As with any biometric speaker verification system, VoiSentry is language and dialect independent.

3.) Agara

Agara is an autonomous virtual voice agent powered by Real-time Voice AI. It is designed to have intelligent conversations with your customers, vendors, and partners without any assistance from human agents. It can handle a wide variety of calls including inbound customer care calls, outbound lead generation calls, appointment scheduling calls, and overdue payment recovery calls.

Agara is available for several industries including banking, insurance, retail, e-commerce, airlines, and telecom. Powered by advanced Real-time Voice AI that understands speech in real-time, automatically determines the right process to follow and guides the caller along in the process with natural conversation.

Call Tracking Metrics

Execute automated actions based on words spoken by your customer.

Our intelligent word detection and transcription tools make it easier for you to decipher the content of your customer conversations and automate action based on those insights.

Transform the audio of your calls into speaker-organized scripts so you can easily search your call log for specific words from a conversation, or automatically detect when words of intent are spoken by your customer.

Listen in on and highlight common patterns in order to execute triggers to initiate a new action or workflow, such as emailing a manager if the word “cancel” is spoken on a call. You can also set up to automatically redact content from a transcript, such as sensitive health information transmitted on a call.


Daisee builds technology that empowers people to solve problems by making interactions simple and smart so they can have a more significant impact, be more productive and be better at what they do. We believe incremental improvements carry huge potency and provide exponentially greater change for the better.

Genesys customers can now automate risk and quality management using Daisee’s speech and sentiment analytics and remediation workflow software. Daisee helps improve customer experience, ensure regulatory compliance, identify missed commercial opportunities & training requirements as well as provide valuable insights back to the business directly from the frontline – the true voice-of-...
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Advanced speech recognition and natural language expertise that routes callers by simply asking ‘how can I help you?’. It allows customers to use their own words to ask for what they want and steers them to the right place.

Menus are eliminated altogether and contact centres can use a single inbound telephone number.

MattsenKumar LLC

SmartSpeech – The Best In Class Speech Analytics Software

An all-inclusive speech analytics application that enables you to visualize your audio using state-of-the-art speech recognition, transcription, and text analytics technologies.


V-Blaze Speech to Text
Our GPU-accelerated, AI-based technology enables you to deliver greater insights to the contact center by transcribing audio into analyzable text.

- Transcribe large volumes of recorded audio quickly
- Integrate transcripts with your analytics or business intelligence platform
- Reduce your hardware footprint and minimize total cost of ownership


InTone Suite - Emotion Detection via Voice Analysis
InTone™ is a voice analysis tool geared to detect genuine emotional and cognitive reactions regardless of the speaker’s language or chosen intonation.
It integrates into existing contact center environments and provides realtime indications of both client and agent emotional reactions throughout all ongoing calls. This unique set of indications assists managers and call center representatives to truly understand the client, improve call center performance, easily detect angry calls, elevate training efficiency and provide a tailored customer experience in every single call.

Nemesysco's contact center technology is also available in API and SDK forms.
Please visit our website for information about our product portfolio.


Voxjar is your one-stop-shop for driving better phone calls with your customers. We're a modern Conversation Analytics and Call Coaching Platform.

- Custom Charts and Dashboards give you the freedom to analyze calls from the highest level down to the details of each conversation.

- AI-Powered Speech Analytics transcribes, searches, and analyzes your reps' phone conversations, at scale.

- Quality Assurance and Call Coaching tools let you evaluate and improve agent performance with a human touch.

- Long term recording storage for historical analysis

All of these together provide the holistic, easy-to-use software that you need to manage a modern call team and create better con...
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