AI Anger Filter: SoftBank Provides Call Center Employees with Peace and Quiet

  • SaySay
  • Ai
  • June 16, 2024
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Japanese technological giant SoftBank Corp. has developed an innovative solution to tackle the growing issue of customer aggression in call centers. The company has introduced an artificial intelligence (AI)-based voice modulation technology capable of transforming even the most angry voices into calmer tones.

The system, named “Emotional Suppression,” aims to reduce the stress experienced by call center operators who often encounter customer dissatisfaction. SoftBank stated in a press release, “We are developing a solution that can convert a customer’s voice into a calm conversational tone and deliver it to our employees using emotion recognition and AI-based voice processing technology.”

The company emphasized the importance of maintaining good customer relations while ensuring the psychological well-being of its employees.

Two-Stage Protective System The development of the system was initiated following a television program highlighting verbal abuse faced by call center staff. SoftBank employee Toshiyuki Nakadani was inspired to create a solution to protect his colleagues from such harassment.

The technology operates in two stages. Initially, AI processes the voice to identify angry customers and analyze the characteristics of their speech. It then utilizes acoustic features of neutral voices to create a more relaxed and natural tone.

To achieve this, the AI was trained on over 10,000 voice samples recorded by 10 actors, who spoke more than 100 phrases expressing various emotions, including anger and disappointment. The technology does not alter the customer’s words but significantly modifies the intonation to make it less aggressive.

However, SoftBank ensures that the system does not completely eliminate traces of anger, allowing operators to understand the situation and respond appropriately.

Currently, the “Emotional Suppression” system operates only in Japanese. However, the company is considering expanding the technology to other languages for international markets.

Initial systems are expected by April next year, although their cost has yet to be determined.

Rising Customer Aggression SoftBank’s initiative comes amid a growing problem of customer aggression in Japan’s service sector. The government is considering legislation to enhance worker protection.

The need for such a solution is underscored by a recent survey from Japan’s largest industrial union UA Zensen, which found that nearly 47% of service sector workers have faced customer aggression in the past two years. Over 100 respondents reported seeking psychiatric help due to harassment.

Utilizing artificial intelligence to address customer service issues opens new possibilities for creating a more comfortable work environment and protecting staff. Implementing such innovative technologies could improve service quality as operators would be less susceptible to stress and negative impacts from dissatisfied customers. This, in turn, could enhance customers’ overall experience interacting with the company and strengthen brand loyalty.

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