Case Studies


American Express

Business Challenge: American Express was a pioneer in customer service management, but asked PCG to assess what the company could do to improve loyalty and card usage.

Solution: PCG invented the Net Impression®  model to profile six service arenas in addition to brand image by surveying close to 3000 respondent card holders across six origin countries. Our model determined what aspect of the customer experience, if improved, would have the most impact on usage intent and renewal intent.

Result: Customer satisfaction was high but American Express learned that suppression – the card not being accepted by retailers – was the # 1 leverage item driving renewal intent. Policies and practices were adjusted to remedy the gaps.


Business Challenge: E-Loan was a new company that needed to know what customers valued most in the lending experience and outcome in order to increase its competitiveness versus existing and emerging lenders.

Solution: PCG conducted customer prioritization research to determine what customers valued most and what they would perceive as advantages and disadvantages over traditional lending channels. Additionally, to help with e-Loan positioning the research included a competitive leverage analysis and identified benefits that, if advertised, would have the biggest impact on trial.

Result: E-Loan acted on a key learning which is that online customers seek personal assistance in order to complete the transaction and feel confident about the service experience. While breaking new ground in handling transactions and the client interface via online channels, E-Loan adjusted their business model to ensure an optimal customer experience.


Business Challenge: A consumer lending company wanted to increase customer acquisition, retention, and profitability by improving the process by which customers applied for and received funds.

Solution: PCG developed an analytical framework to evaluate the trade-off between credit, risk, and identity checks and created a vision for a fast and easy customer experience. We worked collaboratively with the client team to understand customer and business needs and to take a clean slate look at a new service process.

Result: The lender used the assessment to streamline verification steps and accelerate the service transaction

Major Investment Bank

Business Challenge: The investment business unit wanted to maintain high levels of responsive, personalized service while increasing the scalability of back office operations.

Solution: Lead Service Process improvement consultant Yvonne Nomizu spearheaded a reengineering effort that centralized client services.

Result: The organization migrated to new service models that supported growth with lower overhead and increased service consistency.


Global Pacemaker Manufacturer

Business Challenge: Facing a decision to build a facility in one of three emerging market countries, a pacemaker company wanted to determine the product, support, sales and cost factors that drove the decision of the implanter in selecting a manufacturer.

Solution: Three studies were conducted among physicians and implant specialists:
• An initial qualitative phase to identify all potential product differentiation criteria that existed within each potential market
• A quantitative survey to prioritize the differentiation criteria and develop a full market landscape (number of potential buyers, competition, market perceptions, new entrant hurdles, pricing, etc.)
• A tradeoff survey to understand how each of the different markets made their product decisions and which feature set was most relevant to a specific market.

Result: Company selected the market based on the key success factors and also used the insights on brand-related perception issues in its marketing strategy, creating messaging that overcame the objections that might inhibit market share. The company was also confident in understanding what direction it should take in the event of new market entrants.

Leading Pharmaceutical Company

Business Challenge: Two years after launching a new brand in select markets, a pharmaceutical company was planning its next move. Competition had launched in several markets as well and were planning second generation products. It was important to know what would ultimately drive physician stocking and buying decisions and if the company's products would be competitive.

Solution: Research specialists designed a Choice Model to forecast physician behavior. Using data from a 25-minute online questionnaire, we conducted Physician and Patient profiling, ran a conjoint analysis and developed a market simulator which calculated a "preference share" based on different combinations of product attributes.

Result: The Choice Model results were used to guide the company's next generation products, including what attributes should be included to optimize competitiveness. A key learning was the degree to which market share was sensitive to the timing of the company's second generation product.

Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

Business Challenge: Each year the Veterans Health Administration invests millions of $ to improve health outcomes and lower costs among the veteran populations it serves.  The ultimate success of many of these healthcare innovations rests on veteran adoption and use of the programs and services the VA develops.  In this pilot project, the VHA sought to understand veteran preferences for and potential utilization of alternative configurations of its Electronic Health Record (HER) and a Health Coaching Service.  This demonstration project was designed to test a powerful forecasting technology called conjoint measurement as a way to help the agency design healthcare innovations to that improve penetration and use among the veteran populations.

Solution: PCG teamed with Booz Allen Hamilton to develop two separate conjoint surveys administered to 400 veterans enrolled in the VHA system and 400 veterans who were not enrolled.  The sample consisted of multiple demographic groups and covered veterans from multiple service conflicts.  The survey was fielded through an online panel and a market simulator was developed to forecast veteran preference for alternative service configurations. 

Result: The simulator enables the VHA to test optional EHR and Health Coaching service designs.  It forecasts market preference for alternative EHR and Health Coaching services the VA could consider offering, enables the VBA to examine differences by segment, and identifies the optimal HER and Health Coaching service for the market overall and for various segments.  The simulator correctly specified current market share of the VA’s EHR, My HealtheVet.


Stanford University

Business Challenge: Faculty and management within MS&E wished to assess the economic impact of the University’s various technology innovation resources, and to find new approaches to fostering breakthrough ideas and entrepreneurship.

Solution: PCG partnered with the university to conduct a broad-scale survey among alumni to characterize their entrepreneurial activities and successes. The Stanford team combined findings with other research to analyze Stanford’s entrepreneurial footprint.

Result: Stanford has incorporated findings from the Alumni Innovation Survey into its strategies related to the academic experience, involvement in investment, and its many resources that promote entrepreneurship.

The Thacher School

Business Challenge: The Thacher School wanted to build and maintain a strategic plan that included student and parent perspectives based on valid and reliable data rather than on anecdotal information or “the loudest voice in the room.”

Solution: Since 1997, PCG has worked with Thacher to create and administer surveys to students, parents, and alumni that cover their entire experience with the school. Surveys are conducted every two years to measure satisfaction and PCG’s Net Impression®  leverage analysis prioritizes improvement opportunities for the school.

Result: Thacher has used the survey results –particularly the improvement priorities determined by PCG’s leverage analysis – to help determine strategies and policies over the years. These guidelines have contributed to the school’s status as one of the most selective boarding schools in the nation, including the highest yield on applications and lowest attrition.

The Marlborough School

Business Challenge: The Marlborough School wanted to incorporate parent and student feedback into its strategic plan, making sure to hear from all parents about all facets of the school – not only from dissatisfied parents about specific issues.

Solution: PCG conducted focus groups with parents and students to understand all aspects of their experience at the school. Using this input and administration guidance, PCG created detailed parent and student questionnaires. Online surveys are conducted every two years to measure the impact of improvements and determine next steps using PCG’s Net Impression®  leverage analysis.

Result: Survey results, including PCG’s leverage analysis, were used in formulating the school’s strategic plan and are continuously used to make improvements at this selective independent school.


Sun Microsystems

Business Challenge: Sun wanted to assess its performance throughout the licensee lifecycle, identify trends, and determine where resources could be most efficiently allocated.

Solution: PCG performed analysis to identify critical improvement areas, facilitated an action-planning session with a cross-functional team, identified key drivers of satisfaction and loyalty, and developed specific strategies to improve customer satisfaction.

Result: Sun developed specific initiatives including new communication efforts to increase awareness of Sun’s products, improvement of technical documentation to increase understanding of those products, and clear descriptions of support offerings and prices.

Adaptive Insights

Business Challenge: This financial software firm wanted to identify what would best motivate target financial professionals to consider its software.

Solution: PCG scripted multiple messages and incentives that had the potential to influence potential buyers, as well as identified possible media and call-to-action steps that could be included in a sales campaign. Then we conducted an innovative study using our Behavior Prediction Tool to determine the optimal combination of message-media-action.

Result: Adaptive Insights learned which variable – among media, message content and action step – was most important in motivating action. Two of the potential value proposition statements stood out among others as most influential and the action step of requesting free trial was most compelling. The company incorporated these findings into their ongoing marketing and sales efforts.

The Shelby Group

Business Challenge: The Shelby Group – a consulting company that offers source-to-settle spend management solutions – wanted to re-examine its business model and determine how best to position itself for the future based on customer needs and perceptions.

Solution: PCG conducted telephone surveys and an online questionnaire to determine current and anticipated client needs around expertise, support, relationship and impact.

Result: The Shelby Group used the insights to lay out a new market positioning and followed up with an enhanced value proposition and messaging around procurement optimization. New marketing efforts are fueling the company’s growth.

ELM Resources

Business Challenge: ELM wanted to maintain its strong service quality, to stay in touch with the changing needs of schools and students, and to identify improvements that would enhance customer loyalty.

Solution: PCG conducted annual customer loyalty studies over six years to track customer satisfaction around technology, information reporting, training services, and the sales process. PCG’s Net Impression®  leverage analysis identified the areas that would have the most impact on loyalty. Scores were also used to set service goals and drive improvements.

Result: By focusing on the high priority areas, ELM raised top-box (good or excellence score) satisfaction among its customers by thirteen points in two years.


California Water Company

Business Challenge: This large regional water utility looked to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction while avoiding unnecessary costs. PCG partnered with Cal Water to identify new servicing alternatives that could increase convenience while producing positive financial impact.

Solution: PCG designed a three-part engagement to achieve these business results: 1) aggregated the voice of the customer and best-practice ideas around payment experiences to design new services; 2) conducted PCG’s Net Optimizer  to forecast how different customer segments would behave when faced with new alternatives; and 3) used service design techniques to map out a start-to-finish web and IVR service and tested prototypes until ready for launch.

Result: Cal Water’s new online services have been highly successful, resulting in not only a strong customer satisfaction rating but also financial benefits due to fewer call center interactions, decrease in water shut offs, and an increase in bill paying and A/R.

Pacific Gas and Electric

Business Challenge: PG&E is one of the largest public utilities, with annual revenues of $15 billion, 20,000 employees and 15 million consumers. The utility had historically obtained customer satisfaction scores but was interested in customer insights that would guide them more directly on specific solutions.

Solution: PCG assessed the top-priority customer experience gaps across the entire customer base at both the enterprise and district level. Rather than focusing only on basic customer service components – such as hold time at the call center – the study looked at all the perceptions of PG&E around what customers valued, including the image of PG&E as supporting their community.

Result: PG&E used the holistic picture of itself to guide all areas of its business, including marketing/PR, service centers, and billing.

Utility Company

Business Challenge: A publicly-traded utility wanted its organization to understand the start-to-finish customer experience and find ways to increase customer advocacy and trust.

Solution: Using existing customer insights PCG worked with a cross-section of employees to map the customer journey, including customer goals, activities and perceptions.

Result: The utility is using the Customer Journey Map to select opportunities for improvement and to build understanding of the customer perspective across the organization.

American Airlines

Business Challenge: American Airlines was in a highly competitive environment and wanted to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Solution: PCG conducted a comprehensive customer experience study that first discovered in the customer’s language how they viewed the flying experience and then, secondly, measured satisfaction drivers for each of the touch points.

Result: Local achievements included launching curbside check-in where it was not in use, streamlining boarding policies and procedures, improving passenger handling during off-schedule operations, and cross-training staff to improve ticket counter/gate agent coordination. In addition, the process increased staff commitment to improving customer service. Ultimately, American licensed PCG's methodology to expand the program to all of its 200-plus domestic stations.


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Business Challenge: CFPB was created to ensure accurate information and education to improve the financial well-being of the average American consumer. The organization wanted to develop the most useful services that truly influence key financial decisions and to ensure that the public was aware of available resources.

Solution: PCG conducted research that uncovered awareness of CFPG as well as consumer attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors as they navigate financial decisions.

Result: Knowing consumers’ financial profiles and where consumers specifically struggle is now embedded in CFPB’s communications and education strategy. The agency is enhancing its communication efforts for current products and services based on an enhanced understanding of the individuals it serves.

IRS Collection

Business Challenge: Each year the IRS contacts millions of taxpayers to resolve outstanding tax debts and unfiled returns. The Collection function wanted to better understand taxpayer segments and their behavior in order to achieve more effective and efficient account resolution.

Solution: PCG gathered customer and process data, spanning over 3 million records and 600 variables and conducted analytics to find customers most at risk of non-compliance. Working with ideas42, a non-profit behavior science institute, we generated potential interventions and communications to drive compliant behavior.

Result: The IRS will use the insights to enhance their compliance approaches and improve taxpayer response.

U.S. Courts, Department of Justice

Business Challenge: PACER is an online record access site housing court records. The database and site have grown exponentially in terms of its technological complexity, number of users, number and types of content accessed, required security, accessibility, and reliability. U.S. Courts wanted a comprehensive assessment of usability, content, features, access and price to ensure the service kept pace with industry and user expectations.

Solution: PCG's assessment provided the U.S. Courts with a comprehensive data and information foundation about PACER customers/users and their needs, preferences for product and service enhancements, and satisfaction with the services.

Result: The PACER team used the findings to develop messages in their new marketing communications campaigns and to improve the online experience even further.

Veterans Affairs - National Cemetery Administration (NCA)

Business Challenge: NCA was focused on ensuring an excellent customer experience for all parties involved in the sensitive burial process. The agency had identified some areas, such as the headstone ordering process that needed closer scrutiny.

Solution: PCG partnered with NCA to find improvement opportunities through annual customer research among key constituencies. PCG designed the research to include cemetery-level data and to compare perspectives of external customers with internal management, so that NCA leadership could target improvement areas.

Result: NCA increased communication around burial benefits and improved understanding among operational staff of key customer-experience concerns. It increased public awareness of national cemetery burial benefits prior to need; grew the use of the VA/NCA website and email; and strengthened communications with funeral directors, leading to a year-over-year increase in customer satisfaction.

Commerce Department

Business Challenge: The Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service and its partner agencies were chartered as part of a national initiative to increase the level of international business exports from small businesses to spur job growth. The department wanted a better understanding of the overall small business market in order to develop services that positively impact exporting success.

Solution: PCG designed a multi-pronged market study to identify those services that needed better marketing as well as customer needs that were not well addressed. The study – which included market segmentation, focus groups, and a telephone survey – was integrated into an overall strategic view of market needs.

Result: The U.S. Commercial Service followed PCG’s marketing model to create offerings linked to the drivers of success among small business exporters, including assistance with business planning and international market analysis.

Social Security Administration

Business Challenge: A shared services group aimed to improve service levels, productivity, employee engagement and operational efficiency.

Solution: A PCG Service Process Improvement team assessed over seventeen processes and led redesign teams to restructure and streamline core processes.

Result: Following the implementation strategy provided will lead to over $3MM in cost savings, improved customer satisfaction and improved employee understanding of roles and responsibilities.


Automobile Association

Business Challenge: A major auto club on the west coast sought expertise in understanding member needs and identifying product, service, and marketing strategies that would increase retention and member satisfaction.

Solution: Consulting team conducted a brand and membership experience assessment, mapped the service profitability portfolio, and researched best practices related to auto, financial services, and mobile trends.

Result: We recommended a new member value proposition with supporting services, including an emphasis on mobility and accessibility.

Global Hotel Chain

Business Challenge: One of the largest hotel chains looked to modernize its brand and develop new hotel formats that better met the needs of the family vacation traveler.

Solution: Through qualitative and quantitative research Yvonne Nomizu worked with a New Products team to understand the travelers’ needs and wants. The team developed a new hotel format with innovative features and services.

Result: New products were launched, creating competitive segments within the industry for reliable, budget friendly family vacations.

Men’s Clothing Company

Business Challenge: A major men’s clothing company understood that designing a product with the right mix of features is essential to company growth. The team wanted to know specifically what the target audience valued, what they would be willing to pay for, and how its brand compared to the competition. Ultimately, it wanted to build market share in a highly competitive environment.

Solution: In a five-week period, PCG conducted its proprietary PCCM methodology to capture customer preference profiles and to forecast how customers would react to different combinations of features – such as fabric, price, hem style, and brand. The model was able to show the sales potential of existing products currently available at retail.

Result: The company identified $20 million in potential revenue from improving retail performance. Additionally, management is using the product optimization results to design and launch its new offerings.