User Centricity in GenAI: The Forgotten Priority

User centricity with GenAI

The rapid advancement of GenAI is intoxicating. 

Companies continue to pour resources into AI innovations, but is this investment coming at the expense of the most crucial aspect of their business: the user experience?

In a Reddit thread on r/datascience, a senior engineer of a large company asks, “Anyone else’s company executives losing their sh** over GenAI?“

The community's response is brimming with relatable stories from numerous enterprise-level companies. Many engineers express confusion and mild irritation, describing the situation as a "hype cycle" or "irrational exuberance." This highlights the widespread overenthusiasm and potential misalignment between executives and the technical teams tasked with implementing these systems.

The buzz around GenAI is justified, as it represents a groundbreaking technological advancement for companies of all sizes. Decision-makers fear falling behind if they don't invest heavily in GenAI while competitors do. However, the problem arises when the focus on GenAI surpasses the emphasis on customer experience. 

This oversight poses serious risks, as the true power of AI lies not just in its capabilities but in how it improves and streamlines the user journey. Balancing technological innovation with a strong commitment to CX is crucial for sustainable success.

The neglect of customer experience

Industry events highlighted a concerning trend in the first two quarters of 2024. While the GenAI movement is massive, with significant investments in call centres and AI-driven solutions, the core element—understanding and meeting actual customer needs—has been sidelined.

Perhaps customer experience isn’t as buzzy or interesting as GenAI, given that the core principles of CX have remained largely unchanged. As a result, GenAI innovations have begun to swallow up IT budgets at unprecedented rates across many industries. 

The attempt is to retrofit GenAI into traditional channels, like call centres. While there are reasons to believe this is a worthwhile endeavour, we’d be remiss not to ask the fundamental question: why are we doing this?

Garry Tan, a prominent tech entrepreneur, succinctly captured this sentiment on X: "Chat is overrated as a user experience. Good visualisation, information hierarchy, copy, call to actions is underrated as a user experience. Multiply all of these effects by 10X when you have the power of an LLM involved. Start with great UX, not a chatbot."

Garry’s claim isn’t that GenAI is bad. Rather it’s that if we forget that rudimental principles like UX are the foundation of customer experience, we could waste a lot of time and resources in building systems that don’t help customers.

The pitfalls of neglecting user-centricity

  1. Missed insights on customer preferences: When did your company last engage directly with customers to understand their preferences?
    New generations have different communication preferences, favouring messaging and chat. They are more inclined towards visual, self-service, and instantaneous methods rather than traditional phone calls. Ignoring this shift can lead to inefficient planning and wasted resources.
  2. Planning processes that don’t meet actual needs: Investing heavily in AI-driven call centres without aligning these innovations with customer needs results in redundant processes. For example, integrating a sophisticated AI chatbot without addressing the core issues of user interaction can alienate customers rather than engage them.

The power of improved customer experience

80% of companies that prioritise CX see an increase in revenue. Improved CX leads to increased customer loyalty, with customers who have positive experiences being seven times more likely to remain loyal to a brand. Furthermore, businesses focusing on CX achieve revenue growth 1.7 times faster than those that do not, and their customer lifetime value increases by an average of 2.3x.

Laying the foundation for AI

If we look at the potential AI can give us, we also need to realise the foundation for AI to operate with, says Rob van den Boogaard, project manager at Carhartt. At, we compare building a good CS setup to building a house.
You need a solid foundation if you want to go up and add more layers or departments. Once you have the foundation in place, you can check on new technologies to add to your house.

Implementing AI systems requires a series of strategic and logical steps. If the needs of the end user aren’t fully addressed, simply adding new technology won't lead to sustained satisfaction.

A first step before you automate your processes is to make sure your setup is clear for your customers,” explains van den Boogaard. By using the c1-c2 category system, we tag incoming requests with possible help centre content and macros to answer customers correctly and completely. With many organisations, we see that they jump on the AI hype without proper preparation. Have you ever tried running a marathon without practice?

Van den Boogaard emphasises the importance of preparation by focusing on the right questions:

Have you checked in with your agents on incoming topics first? If your data is not complete, categorised, and available on your help centre or macros, what do you expect from AI?

Example of getting it right

easyJet: easyJet successfully integrated GenAI to improve CX to improve customer experience by building on existing systems and CX principles. By providing customer service agents with easy access to data insights, they optimised decision-making processes and improved customer interactions, making data more accessible and actionable for personalised service improvements. This seamless integration ensured their GenAI initiatives aligned with and strengthened their commitment to exceptional customer experience.

Example of missing the mark

Air Canada: Air Canada's implementation of GenAI to streamline customer experience faced a major setback when the AI system produced "hallucinations," providing incorrect and confusing information to customers. This issue highlighted the risks of relying too heavily on AI without adequate oversight, leading to customer frustration and a decline in trust.

Avoiding hallucinations

Air Canada’s experience with AI “hallucinations,” where chatbots provided incorrect information, highlights the importance of a robust, user-centric approach to AI implementation—after all, airlines are just at the start of GenAI revolution. Ensuring that AI systems are well-trained and aligned with customer needs can prevent such errors. By integrating continuous learning and feedback, businesses can improve accuracy and build trust in AI-driven interactions.

Hubtype's Smart Intents exemplify this approach, using advanced LLMs to detect customer intent precisely, ensuring relevant and accurate responses that improve the customer experience. This along with AI-driven knowledge bases can streamline user experience by providing quick, accurate information and supporting self-service options, thereby reducing the need for human intervention.

CX with GenAI

Embracing a user-centric approach in the GenAI Era

Most organisations should first fix their House-of-CX and processes before adopting new tooling, explains van den Boogaard.

This advice highlights a common oversight: the rush to adopt new technologies without addressing foundational customer experience (CX) issues.

Also, with AI in your service department, the results are based on your input and daily training of the chatbot. The technology does not perform out of the box and improve your customer service activity.

To truly leverage the power of GenAI, companies must refocus on the user experience. This involves:

  1. Engaging with customers: Regularly solicit feedback to understand their needs and preferences. Use this information to guide your AI integration strategy.
  2. Balancing AI with human touch: Ensure that AI enhancements complement rather than replace human interactions. For instance, use AI to handle a set of specific inquiries, and know when to hand it over to a human agent.
  3. Investing in UX and conversational design: Prioritise good visualisation, information hierarchy, and clear calls to action in your digital interfaces. This will improve user interaction and satisfaction.
  4. Continuous improvement: Treat your AI systems as dynamic entities that require regular updates and improvements based on user feedback and changing preferences.

The key to success lies in maintaining a user-centric approach. While AI offers powerful tools to improve CX, it is the thoughtful integration of these tools with a deep understanding of customer needs that will set companies apart. By prioritising user experience, businesses can not only keep pace with technological advancements but also build lasting relationships with their customers, ensuring sustained growth and success.

It is like adopting a puppy dog, adds van den Boogaard. Yes, it is very nice and easy to play with, but for serious results, serious effort is needed.

Therefore, start with the basics. Fix your information structure, improve that part of your CX first before investing in new technology, and get some advice on what this technology can mean for your specific company. It does not work for every company or branch. It can work if executed right, that is why we help retailers in these choices.”

Take a moment to reflect: How is your organisation implementing GenAI? Are you integrating AI solutions that genuinely improve user experience, or are you caught in the hype cycle? The key to sustainable success lies in thoughtful integration, continuous improvement, and a steadfast commitment to user-centricity.

At Hubtype, we understand the importance of balancing technological innovation with exceptional customer experience. 

How will you integrate GenAI in a way that enhances the user experience? We’re here to help and happy to have a chat.