Japanese multinational holding company SoftBank is set to use AI-enabled software in its call centres to soften the tone of angry customer voices, a move that aims to relieve stress from call handlers.

SoftBank, the third-largest telecom provider in Japan, will begin testing the technology internally and wants to commercialise it by the end of March 2026.

“We are working on the development of a solution that can convert the customer’s voice into a calm conversational tone and deliver it to our workers using AI-enabled emotion recognition and voice processing technology,” SoftBank wrote in a press release on Wednesday (15 May).

“With this solution, we aim to maintain good relationships with customers through sound communication while ensuring the psychological welfare of our workers,” the company added.

The move comes as AI productivity is beginning to overtake humans in various workplace tasks, according to the AI Index Report carried out by California’s Stanford University. 

The 2024 study found that AI had already surpassed humans in tasks such as image classification, understanding of English and visual reasoning. 

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However, the report found that AI still struggled behind humans with more complex tasks such as advanced mathematics, commonsense reasoning and planning. 

The research found data to suggest that workers were more productive when using AI tools during their workday, especially for repetitive tasks or data analysis work. 

Productivity was cited by surveyed developers in the report as the dominant benefit of integrating AI, with over 30% of AI developers citing this.