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Softbank unveils AI to alleviate customer harassment of call center staff by softening angry customer voices during calls

Softbank unveils AI technology to soften calls from angry customers to protect the mental state of call center staff. (Source: Softbank via ANA News)
Softbank unveils AI technology to soften calls from angry customers to protect the mental state of call center staff. (Source: Softbank via ANA News)
Softbank has unveiled an AI to alleviate customer harassment of call center staff by softening angry customer voices during calls. The AI automatically replaces threatening, angry, and abusive-sounding speech with a gentler, calmer version. This technology helps protect the mental state of call center staff under ever stricter employee work regulations.

Softbank Japan has unveiled an AI designed to alleviate the harassment of call center staff by automatically softening angry customer voices during calls. The AI automatically replaces threatening, angry, and abusive-sounding speech with a gentler, calmer version. This technology helps protect the mental state of staff under ever stricter employee work regulations focused on ensuring a safe, healthy workplace.

AI has advanced to the point where it can identify individual voices, translate speech, and even clone a person’s voice. Often, such AI sound technology has been used to create new songs as if a famous singer had sung them, steal money by using cloned voices to pretend to be a person in charge, and make calls that sound like they come from a president. Softbank has put emotional voice conversion technology to good use addressing the worldwide problem of call-center staff harassment by angry customers that frequently leads to mental health issues and high turnovers.

The Softbank Emotion Canceling Voice Conversation Engine AI was designed jointly with the University of Tokyo to counter angry customer calls that make call center representatives miserable. With a single click, the AI automatically converts hostile calls into a calmer version that allows staff to address issues without blowing their own tops. This also counters potential employee lawsuits accusing companies of poor work environments. The company anticipates commercial rollout in fiscal 2025. Until then, readers stuck listening to abusive callers can try an authentic voodoo doll (like this one on Amazon) to relieve their mental stress.

A brief demonstration of the AI can be seen in the video on customer harassment below from 4 minutes 30 seconds on.

Machine translated by Edge browser:

Formulation of Approach to Customer Harassment

~As part of measures against customer harassment, we are promoting the development of solutions for call centers using AI-based emotion recognition and voice processing technologies~

May 15, 2024

SoftBank Corp.

SoftBank Corp. ("SoftBank") has formulated the Company's Approach to Customer Harassment in accordance with the SoftBank Human Rights Policy with the aim of maintaining good relationships with customers and maintaining an appropriate working environment for employees and others.

SoftBank is committed to providing services that satisfy customers while receiving valuable opinions and requests from customers. In order to continue to provide better services, we believe that it is important to maintain an appropriate working environment for employees and others, and we have formulated our "Our Approach to Customer Harassment." Based on the manual of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, we define acts that fall under customer harassment, and summarize what to do when such acts occur and the main measures related to customer harassment.

"Our Approach to Customer Harassment"

https://www.softbank.jp/corp/sustainability/esg/social/human-rights/customer_harassment/

SoftBank is implementing a variety of initiatives to address customer harassment, including the establishment of a consultation service and the development of response manuals for shops and call centers. In the call center telephone answering business, we are working on the development of a solution that can convert the customer's call voice into a calm conversational tone and deliver it to the operator using emotion recognition and voice processing technology using artificial intelligence (AI). This is a business idea that was born from SoftBank's new business proposal system, SoftBank Innoventure, and we are proceeding with R&D and verification with the aim of commercialization by the end of fiscal 2025. With this solution, we aim to maintain good relationships with customers through sound communication while ensuring the psychological safety of operators.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2024 06 > Softbank unveils AI to alleviate customer harassment of call center staff by softening angry customer voices during calls
David Chien, 2024-06- 5 (Update: 2024-06- 5)