Using AI to predict service agent stress from emotion patterns in service interactions

Stefano Bromuri*, Alexander P Henkel, Deniz Iren, Visara Urovi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
A vast body of literature has documented the negative consequences of stress on employee performance and well-being. These deleterious effects are particularly pronounced for service agents who need to constantly endure and manage customer emotions. The purpose of this paper is to introduce and describe a deep learning model to predict in real-time service agent stress from emotion patterns in voice-to-voice service interactions.

Design/methodology/approach
A deep learning model was developed to identify emotion patterns in call center interactions based on 363 recorded service interactions, subdivided in 27,889 manually expert-labeled three-second audio snippets. In a second step, the deep learning model was deployed in a call center for a period of one month to be further trained by the data collected from 40 service agents in another 4,672 service interactions.

Findings
The deep learning emotion classifier reached a balanced accuracy of 68% in predicting discrete emotions in service interactions. Integrating this model in a binary classification model, it was able to predict service agent stress with a balanced accuracy of 80%.

Practical implications
Service managers can benefit from employing the deep learning model to continuously and unobtrusively monitor the stress level of their service agents with numerous practical applications, including real-time early warning systems for service agents, customized training and automatically linking stress to customer-related outcomes.

Originality/value
The present study is the first to document an artificial intelligence (AI)-based model that is able to identify emotions in natural (i.e. nonstaged) interactions. It is further a pioneer in developing a smart emotion-based stress measure for service agents. Finally, the study contributes to the literature on the role of emotions in service interactions and employee stress.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Service Management
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sep 2020

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