The Machine Age of Customer Insight

Cover of The Machine Age of Customer Insight


Table of contents

(19 chapters)

Part 1 Transformation


Digitalization is changing the assets, competencies, and value creation of the customer insight function. New data sources, methods, and technologies provide an unprecedented wealth of data and opportunity for efficiency. At the same time, it is leading to an evolution in necessary capabilities such as data synthesis, networking, and constant learning. Changes in the means of value creation have included automation of insights, more frequent evaluation of business results, and more emotional inspiration. Customer insights in the machine age drive customer centricity and go beyond the descriptive research function of previous “market research” within companies.


Applications powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become a crucial factor for success in modern sales organizations. This chapter investigates how Salesforce achieves scalable AI for businesses of all sizes and explores sales applications of AI and machine learning that are most common across industries. It is divided into three sections. The first section gives an introduction to AI and machine learning. The second section shows how data and automated machine learning models provide the foundation for AI applications and explains how Salesforce achieves scalable AI and machine learning for business applications. The third section demonstrates how AI applications impact the modern sales organization and the work of sales representatives. AI does not replace humans; it allows sales organizations to better engage with prospects and customers. Sales representatives using AI outperform their counterparts that rely purely on traditional methods.


Advances in technology over recent years made it possible to use machines and artificial intelligence to develop commercially viable solutions for companies to listen to consumers, decode the meaning, and respond accordingly. In parallel, solutions have been developed that are able to automatically track facial expressions of consumers when reacting to a given marketing stimulus.

The authors look at how marketing executives can apply these technologies to generate enhanced customer insights, providing a realistic context for future applications. The focus is on bringing researchers and managers closer to those moments of truth and our ability to understand customer emotions, emotional reaction, everyday language, and ultimately brand engagement.

The chapter covers the application of commercially viable use cases for (1) the automated measurement of emotions through facial coding to optimize advertizing and content, and (2) the use of voice coding technology to design interactive chatbots as an alternative to traditional surveys. In the outlook, the authors describe the potential that these technologies provide for future research and further use cases.


Content marketing is a crucial aspect of digital marketing in modern firms. By generating content that is interesting and engaging, companies have the two-fold advantage of promoting their products in a relatable way, while increasing familiarity and engagement with the brand. As data scientists at Credit Suisse, we value our content teams because their voice is the bank's voice. We strive to provide them with the best tools to increase their articles' success. With the help of machine learning, we have created digital products that allow them to improve articles before publication, recommend them to the most interested readers, and track their performance. The chapter begins with a brief introduction to content marketing, followed by an overview of our data, a review of the business challenges we have encountered, and the machine learning solutions we have developed in order to provide the best data insights to our internal and external stakeholders. We close the chapter with a brief summary of our work.


Collecting customer data is increasingly becoming an automatic process at different customer touchpoints, carried out with the help of artificial intelligence. Modern telecommunication networks are necessary for collecting this data in a timely manner. This chapter describes 5G, the latest generation of mobile telecommunication networks. It outlines the current stage of development and use cases being introduced or planned by telecommunication companies worldwide. A key aspect of the chapter is to explain what 5G means for collecting customer data.

Part 2 Analytical Tools


Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have arisen as the availability of larger data sources, statistical methods, and computing power have rapidly and simultaneously evolved. The transformation is leading to a revolution that will affect virtually every industry. Businesses that are slow to adopt modern data practices are likely to be left behind with little chance to catch up.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a brief overview of machine learning and AI in the business setting. In addition to providing historical context, the chapter also provides justification for AI investment, even in industries in which data is not the core business function. The means by which computers learn is de-mystified and various algorithms and evaluation methods are presented. Lastly, the chapter considers various ethical and practical consequences of machine learning algorithms after implementation.


Neural networks, which provide the basis for deep learning, are a class of machine learning methods that are being applied to a diverse array of fields in business, health, technology, and research. In this chapter, we survey some of the key features of deep neural networks and aspects of their design and architecture. We give an overview of some of the different kinds of networks and their applications and highlight how these architectures are used for business applications such as recommender systems. We also provide a summary of some of the considerations needed for using neural network models and future directions in the field.


Across disciplines, researchers and practitioners employ decision tree ensembles such as random forests and XGBoost with great success. What explains their popularity? This chapter showcases how marketing scholars and decision-makers can harness the power of decision tree ensembles for academic and practical applications. The author discusses the origin of decision tree ensembles, explains their theoretical underpinnings, and illustrates them empirically using a real-world telemarketing case, with the objective of predicting customer conversions. Readers unfamiliar with decision tree ensembles will learn to appreciate them for their versatility, competitive accuracy, ease of application, and computational efficiency and will gain a comprehensive understanding why decision tree ensembles contribute to every data scientist's methodological toolbox.


Text mining, natural language processing, and natural language understanding continually help businesses and organizations extract valuable insights from unstructured data. As the business environment changes, companies must integrate data from many sources to remain competitive. Text is yet another rich data source collected by an organization both internally from employees and externally from customers. The chapter begins by distinguishing and defining text mining, natural language processing, and natural language understanding. Then two case studies are presented to understand how these technologies are applied in practice, namely on human resources and customer service applications of natural language. The chapter closes with defining steps to mitigate project risk as well as exploring the many industries employing this emerging technology.


Every second, vast amounts of data are generated and stored on the Internet. Data scraping makes these data accessible and usable for business and scientific purposes. Web-scraped data are of high value to businesses as they can be used to inform many strategic decisions such as pricing or market positioning. Although it is not difficult to scrape data, particularly when they come from public websites, there are six key steps that analysts should ideally consider and follow. Following these steps can help to better harness the business value of online data.

Part 3 Success Factors


In light of the data economy, data protection law is a key legal element for being able to leverage data-driven innovation and is often regarded as a limitation for businesses and service design. Contrasting this traditional view, this chapter argues why designing with privacy in mind is a win-win situation, not only, but especially in the context of data-based services. On the backdrop of new regulations around the globe setting incentives, we show how research in the domain of usable privacy can be leveraged to embed innovative privacy features for customers into digital services as competitive advantage. Building upon these insights, we argue that a well-designed privacy and/or data protection process should be a key element for customer experience management.


In today's economy, experiences are a distinct offering that have become the core selling point for some of the world's most successful companies. From banking and transportation, to home exercise and healthcare, companies have differentiated themselves by designing distinct experiences alongside their core goods and services. And at the heart of this transformation are the data, systems, processes, and culture needed to understand more about customers and employees in order to design unique experiences for every individual. In this chapter we explore how success in the experience economy is not simply a case of gathering more data, but instead looking at a different type of data – Experience Data. With examples and case studies from some of the world's most successful companies, we look at how the discipline of experience management (XM) and the technology available to organizations today is fundamentally changing how companies operate – and win – in the experience economy.


In the age of data, enterprises have more information available to them than ever before, yet many organizations still struggle to harness its full potential. In this chapter, we explore the data value equation and how it translates into an end-to-end data management strategy that enables enterprises to turn their business data into business value. Starting with the concept of “amount,” the chapter looks at the challenge of storing big data. The second element of the equation relates to the “quality” of data and its fundamental role in enabling confident decision-making. Finally, the third element of the equation focuses on the importance of the consumption of that data in analytics tools that not only visualize the data but proactively help users uncover, explore, and act on insights. By yielding the highest value at every stage of this equation, businesses can see more, understand more, and do more with their data.


With the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, competitive data science platforms like Kaggle are gaining momentum. From a host's perspective, the platforms offer access to a large crowd of data scientists who can solve their data science problems efficiently and cost-effectively. From the participant's perspective, the platforms provide the opportunity to apply their skills to real-world problems, interact with other data scientists, and win prizes. The chapter provides an overview of competitive data science platforms and assesses their potential for business and academia. A series of opportunities and challenges of data competitions are outlined, and a concrete case is illustrated. The chapter also demonstrates common pitfalls that hosts of data competitions need to be aware of by discussing the relevance of problem definition, data leakage, and metrics to evaluate different solutions.


This chapter introduces the KontoSensor, a digital service offered by Deutsche Bank since September 2018, as an example of data processing using predictive analytics. We present the motivation behind this digital service, the use cases and methods currently implemented, the way they have been created, and measures to increase the usage of the KontoSensor. With KontoSensor, Deutsche Bank offers a digital service to its clients to analyze their transactions on their current accounts using methods from predictive analytics and to inform them when irregularities are found. Twelve months after the start, 90,000 clients are already using this service and experiencing the results of data science firsthand.


Storytelling can be the difference between your data making a true contribution or remaining unheard. Because in order to move your stakeholders to act, they need to thoroughly understand why your data matters, and often on an emotional as well as a rational level. And for that, there is no more powerful tool than storytelling.

In this chapter, we'll apply the techniques of the most powerful story form of all, movies, to data slides, and in the process, make them easy to understand and believe in.

You'll read and see techniques and examples that will help you:

  • Focus your data so it's quick and clear.

  • Frame it in ways that feel tangible and relatable to your stakeholders.

  • Make the reason why it matters more powerful so your stakeholders will be moved to act.

  • How storytelling will become even more interesting in the age of machines.

Focus your data so it's quick and clear.

Frame it in ways that feel tangible and relatable to your stakeholders.

Make the reason why it matters more powerful so your stakeholders will be moved to act.

How storytelling will become even more interesting in the age of machines.

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