PolyAI raises $50 million series C Read more

Humanizing AI: Balancing empathy, efficiency, and ethics in customer service

May 29, 2024


As voice AI gets more and more realistic, it’s becoming harder and harder for callers to tell if they’re talking to a person or a voice assistant.

This is great news for contact centers, who can push automated experiences without sacrificing engagement, enabling them to streamline operations without sacrificing CX.

While the goal is to make AI interactions as human-like as possible, there is ongoing debate about transparency. Should customers always be informed upfront that they are speaking with AI?

While transparency is important for building customer trust, obviously robotic experiences are likely to remind callers of previous generations of voice technology that have failed to understand them.

The best applications of voice AI don’t feel like talking to robots, but this doesn’t mean they should trick people into thinking they’re talking to a person when they’re not. Rather, the key is to create an experience where the technology’s artificial nature fades into the background.

Customer interactions with AI: Less is not more

When people think they are talking to a bot, they often simplify their language, which can sometimes make it harder for the AI to understand. With improvements in Large Language Models (LLMs), customers who speak naturally and provide context are understood better, improving the accuracy of responses. This shows the importance of designing AI that encourages natural conversation.

The power of emotional AI

Voice AI systems are increasingly capable of handling emotionally sensitive interactions with a level of empathy and understanding.

For example, in customer service scenarios involving sensitive topics like bereavement, AI voice assistants can adjust the tone and approach to be more empathetic, which some people find less emotionally taxing than speaking to a person.

The role of AI legislation

Some businesses inform users upfront that they are interacting with AI, while others subtly fold this information into the interaction. Legislation may eventually mandate certain disclosures, but the current approach focuses on designing experiences that don’t trigger negative preconceptions.

As AI systems become more advanced and human-like, regulatory bodies must balance innovation that enables organizations to deliver an AI-driven customer experience while ensuring the ethical use of AI in business.


As AI systems become more sophisticated, the relationship between humans and AI will continue to deepen. Integrating voice assistants in contact center operations will become essential to elevating customer experience and efficiently managing customer service interactions at scale. Balancing transparency, emotional intelligence, and ethical considerations will be key to businesses and customers getting the most from AI.

This article recaps a recent episode of Deep Learning with PolyAI. Enjoy this and other episodes here.

Ready to hear it for yourself?

Get a personalized demo to learn how PolyAI can help you
 drive measurable business value.

Request a demo

Request a demo