Generative AI: The Key to Unlocking True Customer Centricity

The business world is abuzz with excitement around a groundbreaking technology: generative artificial intelligence (AI). Tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Midjourney have captivated the public with their ability to create highly realistic text, images, and videos from simple prompts. But beyond the hype, generative AI holds immense potential to transform how companies understand, engage, and serve their customers.

As the top CRM platform, HubSpot is at the forefront of this revolution, embedding generative AI capabilities into its suite of sales, marketing, and service tools. The goal is to empower businesses to leverage AI to build deeper, more personalized relationships with their customers at scale.

In this post, we‘ll explore how generative AI is ushering in a new era of customer centricity and take a deep dive into HubSpot‘s vision and approach. Plus, learn from real-world examples of companies seeing big results with AI and get tips for adopting it in your own organization.

What is generative AI?

Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence models that can generate new content – text, images, audio, video, code, etc. – based on training data. The most well-known examples are large language models (LLMs) that power tools like ChatGPT. These models ingest and learn patterns from massive datasets in order to output convincing content in response to user inputs.

What makes the latest generative AI systems groundbreaking is their ability to understand and generate human-like language and visuals, thanks to training on unprecedented amounts of data. This has unlocked an explosion of use cases and accessibility, bringing AI content creation capabilities to the mainstream.

Generative AI is rapidly being integrated into the tools and platforms we use every day. Microsoft is incorporating it into Office, Edge, and Bing. Google is building it into Workspace and Search. Adobe is adding generative features across its Creative Suite. And the list goes on, with countless startups also racing to bring generative AI solutions to market.

The generative AI opportunity for customer-facing teams

For customer-facing functions like sales, marketing, and service, generative AI has the potential to be transformative in three key ways:

  1. Efficiency and productivity: Automating time-consuming tasks like writing email outreach, developing content, gathering customer insights, and responding to common queries. This frees up teams to focus on higher-impact, relationship-building work.

  2. Personalization at scale: Creating highly relevant, tailored experiences for each customer by leveraging AI-powered insights and content generation. Personalization is shown to drive better engagement, conversion, and loyalty.

  3. Strategic insights and innovation: Analyzing customer data at scale to uncover patterns, predict behavior, and generate ideas for new products, offers, and experiences. Generative AI enables businesses to be more proactive and responsive to evolving customer needs.

The common thread is that generative AI empowers organizations to understand customers more deeply and engage them more effectively. It‘s about augmenting human capabilities to build stronger customer relationships. Some are calling this "the empathy engine" for business.

But unlocking this potential requires more than just plugging in a shiny new AI tool. It requires a deliberate, human-centered approach to integrating AI across people, processes, and platforms. This is where HubSpot comes in.

HubSpot‘s approach to generative AI

As an AI-powered CRM platform, HubSpot is uniquely positioned to embed generative AI capabilities across the customer journey. The company‘s approach centers on three key principles:

  1. Enhancing rather than replacing humans. HubSpot sees generative AI as a co-pilot that enables customer-facing teams to work smarter and focus on high-impact activities. The goal is augmentation, not automation. AI generates suggestions and content, but human users remain in control to review, edit, and approve.

  2. Connecting AI to business outcomes. Unlike standalone AI tools, HubSpot‘s AI features plug directly into existing CRM workflows and tie to metrics that matter, like engagement, conversion, and revenue. This focuses AI on driving measurable business results vs. novel experiments.

  3. Prioritizing trust and transparency. Responsible AI use is critical to building customer trust. HubSpot has established principles and practices around data security, privacy, bias mitigation, and transparency. All AI-generated content is clearly labeled, and customers can opt out of AI interactions.

So what does this look like in practice? Here are some of the key generative AI capabilities HubSpot is rolling out:

  • AI-powered content creation: Automatically generate blog posts, landing pages, ad copy, social media posts, and more based on a few prompts. Tailor content to target personas and optimize for search engines and conversions.

  • Chatbots and conversational AI: Build intelligent chatbots that can handle customer inquiries, qualify leads, book meetings, and recommend products across channels. Bots continuously learn and improve based on interaction data.

  • Predictive lead scoring and insights: Analyze customer data to predict which leads are most likely to convert and surface actionable insights on how to engage them. AI models learn from outcomes over time to improve accuracy.

  • Email and ad optimization: Get AI-driven suggestions to personalize email campaigns and ad creative for each recipient based on their profile and behavior. Continuously test and optimize performance.

  • Customer service and knowledge management: Automatically suggest relevant help articles and responses for customer inquiries. AI helps keep knowledge bases up-to-date and extract insights from support interactions.

The key is that these AI capabilities are woven into HubSpot‘s existing tools and workflows vs. standalone features. This allows customer-facing teams to get the benefits of AI without drastically changing how they work or adding complexity. Let‘s look at how this comes to life for real businesses.

Generative AI in action: 3 customer centricity wins

1. Engaging gaming communities

Global gaming brand Riot Games used HubSpot‘s AI tools to better understand and engage its passionate player communities. The company used AI to analyze millions of player support tickets, forum posts, and social media comments to identify trending topics, sentiment, and feedback.

AI-generated insights helped Riot‘s community team quickly spot and respond to issues like game bugs, content suggestions, and toxic behavior. The team also used AI to craft more resonant messaging and content for each player segment based on their profiles and interests. As a result, Riot saw a 25% increase in player engagement and a 15% reduction in churn.

2. Personalizing the B2B buyer‘s journey

Accounting software provider FreshBooks leveraged HubSpot‘s AI tools to deliver a more personalized experience for its diverse customer base of small business owners. AI analyzed firmographic and behavioral data to predict which leads were most likely to convert and what actions would move them forward.

FreshBooks used these AI insights to tailor outreach and content to each prospect, with AI generating personalized email copy, landing pages, and educational resources. Reps received AI-powered coaching and objection handling tips during sales calls. Post-sale, AI helped surface the right help content and growth recommendations for each customer. FreshBooks saw a 30% lift in lead conversion and 20% improvement in customer retention.

3. Scaling customer service with empathy

Fast-growing DTC brand Allbirds turned to HubSpot‘s AI chatbots and knowledge base to scale its customer service without losing the human touch. AI now handles over 50% of incoming inquiries end-to-end, providing instant, conversational answers to common questions about products, orders, and returns.

When AI hands off to human agents, it provides suggested responses and background context to accelerate resolution. AI also continuously ingests new product information and customer feedback to expand the knowledge base. Despite 5X growth in ticket volume, Allbirds has maintained a 95% customer satisfaction score and 5-minute average response time.

These examples show the power of generative AI to enhance customer understanding and engagement when embedded into daily tools and workflows. But they also highlight the importance of the human factor – setting clear objectives, monitoring results, and making judgment calls. So how can more organizations get started with AI-powered customer centricity?

Tips for adopting generative AI for customer centricity

  1. Start with a pilot focused on a high-impact use case. Don‘t try to boil the ocean with an everything-at-once approach to AI. Pick one area where AI can drive clear customer experience and business results. Start small, measure outcomes, and expand iteratively.

  2. Put human needs and experiences at the center. Applying AI to the customer journey isn‘t just a technical challenge – it requires deep customer empathy. Involve customers and front-line employees in designing AI interactions. Prioritize use cases that tangibly enhance customer experiences vs. internal efficiencies alone.

  3. Establish principles and governance early. Don‘t wait for issues to arise to put guardrails in place. Set clear policies upfront around data use, content attribution, human oversight, and transparency to customers. Regularly review outputs for quality and bias. Educate teams on responsible AI practices.

  4. Empower employees as collaborators, not just users. Position AI as a tool to enhance employee skills and impact, not replace them. Provide training and incentives for teams to experiment with AI in their work. Collect feedback to improve AI solutions over time. Celebrate the human + AI wins.

  5. Connect AI initiatives to strategic goals. Deploying AI tactically in silos will limit its transformative potential. Align AI roadmaps to top-level objectives around customer experience, revenue growth, and operational excellence. Establish KPIs and revisit them regularly to keep AI accountable to outcomes.

The future will combine generative AI and human ingenuity

We‘re still in the early innings of the generative AI revolution, with the technology evolving by the day. HubSpot and other pioneers are paving paths to embed AI in intuitive, impactful ways for customer-facing teams. But unlocking AI‘s full potential for customer centricity will be an ongoing journey that requires human leadership.

As AI matures, responsible adoption at scale will be a key competitive differentiator. Businesses that view AI as a plug-and-play shortcut will find short-lived benefits. The winners will be those that take a human-centered, strategic approach – that embrace AI as a collaborator in understanding and serving customers‘ evolving needs.

The future of customer relationships will not be one where humans are automated away by AI. It will be one where human empathy and judgment are augmented by AI superpowers. One where the businesses that build the most intelligent, trusted partnerships between people and machines will build the most loyal customer partnerships. That‘s a future worth striving for.