For over 30 years, Pacific Consulting Group (PCG) has been helping organizations achieve customer excellence and operational efficiency. Our integrated services are designed to put our clients on a direct path from insights to implementation.

PCG’s customer-driven approach provides a deeper understanding of your target audience’s needs and expectations, enabling you to easily prioritize program improvements. Our deep research expertise, combined with focused creativity, has resulted in product, service, and program innovations within forward-thinking organizations.

Click on one of the services below to learn more.

Qualitative Research Market Segmentation Studies Satisfaction & Loyalty Tracking Product Optimization Studies Customer Experience Design Service Process Improvement Service Innovation Behavioral Influence Strategies

Qualitative Research

Do you need a better understanding of your customers or potential customers – what they value, need, prefer and expect? Do you want to walk in their shoes? Using the right qualitative research methodology, or combination of methodologies, enables product and service providers to “get it right” – to deliver the value that attracts customers to your offering rather than that of your competition. Our methodologies – which include focus groups, triads, interviews, and ethnography – uncover not just the voice of the customer – what they say and think - but also their latent behavior drivers – why they say, think and do. This, spurs innovative thinking and provide a quicker path to better products and services.

PCG expert and Senior Director of Research Jonathan Honiball has conducted more than a hundred qualitative studies that have helped to change market strategies and drive customer-satisfaction improvements in several industries.

What is ethnography and what can it tell me that focus groups cannot?

Ethnographic research is a method of observing people in their natural circumstances and environment to gain insight about how they live, shop, interact, or conduct their activities. While focus groups reveal what is on people’s minds – why they do what they do, ethnography is informative about behavior – what they do and how they do it.

Isn’t ethnography expensive?

Traditionally, ethnography is too expensive on a per respondent basis for many organizations to see its value; however, smartphone technology has radically reduced the price of this type of research.

What is an example of a latent behavior driver?

The term “latent” means that the reason for customer behavior is not readily apparent but is an underlying motivation. For example, people ostensibly buy a car for its features but their latent-behavior driver might be status.

How many focus groups should I conduct?

This really depends on the goals of the research. If the goal of the research is design, you would expect to conduct more groups than if the goal of the research is confirmatory. In the case of a design goal, we usually recommend three focus groups of 8-10 consumers or 6-8 professionals per customer segment. This gives management confidence that the findings are not skewed by the opinion of a few. But we caution that even conducting 50 focus groups does not mean views are representative of the total audience – for that, you need quantitative research with representative sampling.


Market Segmentation Studies

Organizations that truly understand their overall markets are better able to find the “white space” – areas currently underserviced - and are better equipped to connect with the most promising target audience. A strong market segmentation schema helps you understand the segments within your overall market, so you can identify your best targets and seize new opportunities. PCG market segmentation schemas deliver actionable and identifiable profiles.

PCG expert Andrea Ptaszek has deep analytics and research training. This enables her not only to develop the right segmentation scheme, but also to identify the high potential targets that best match each organization’s unique offerings.

How is market segmentation used for customer experience purposes?

Different subgroups may have different expectations and experiences. Market segmentation allows you to identify those distinct audiences and design strategies that will tailor the customer experience and specific services to what people value.

What is a typical number of different market segments for a B2B company?

More than two – so there is some differentiation – and typically, six or fewer, so developing a strategy around them is manageable. You never want so many groups that any of them are too small to be worth your attention. This is where the “art” of segmentation is valuable – working with a client to find a solution that best fits their needs and capabilities.

What makes the best segmentation?

Our initial recommendation is to include as much data as possible for consideration in the segmentation. Ideally, this data would include behavioral data (e.g., sales data, or other specific customer data) combined with survey data (attitudes, needs, psychographics and demographics). Not including all information risks creating a limited segmentation that is soon forgotten due to lack of actionability.


Satisfaction and Loyalty Tracking

Are you wondering how to obtain customer or employee engagement or loyalty measures that drive improvements? Two factors must be in place: 1) the customer success measure you use, e.g., customer effort or loyalty must directly link to a bottom-line business objective and 2) the research should itemize the most impactful improvements you can make. Using quantitative survey methods over various media, we deliver a “success” score, based on satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy, or engagement. PCG has developed a leverage analysis technique called Net Impression® to show exactly which aspect of the service experience will deliver the most business impact and should be a top investment priority.

PCG expert Beruria Novich had led satisfaction studies surveying over 1 million consumers and has helped identify the issues companies should focus on to realize true improvement.

Net Promoter Score® (NPS) is popular, but is it the best measure?

NPS characterizes scores as people, which can make it easier to rally employees and managers around improvements – for example, “Let’s convert Detractors into Promoters.” Our view is that the best measure is the one that links most directly to your bottom-line business goals.

Is the Net Impression®  technique basically regression analysis?

Net Impression is an analysis technique that provides a list of customer experience gaps ranked in order of making the biggest impact on your overall score. It’s designed to remedy the issue with regression analysis – which is that rating items are correlated, resulting in misleading estimates of importance. Also, it calculates contribution to the dependent variable rather than relies on asking customers what is important.

How often should satisfaction or engagement surveys be done?

The answer is driven by how the company uses the loyalty scores. For those that are under a type of fiduciary responsibility to report their score along with other key business measures, surveying annually makes sense. However, if the eye is on improving customer loyalty, then the surveys should be done as a way to gauge progress.


Product Optimization Studies

Are you banking on successful new products and services to fuel your company’s growth? Given the expenses and time involved in a new product launch, best-practice companies have tools for optimizing and testing prior to launch and use a lean, iterative development approach. PCG has a fast, technology-based research platform for optimizing new products and services. Using a conjoint methodology, our PCG Net Optimizer determines the mix of features, functionality, price, channels, and messaging that will attract the most target customers and predicts market share or adoption.

PCG expert and Senior Director of Research Jonathan Honiball created PCG Net Optimizer by pairing best-of-breed data-collection and technology capabilities with PCG’s proven forecasting algorithms. He has helped a range of organizations launch products and services more quickly and more confidently.

How is PCG Net Optimizer different from a concept test?

Concept tests give a subset of customers a series of tests that compare different alternative products or product attributes. PCG Net Optimizer  techniques are combined with new, lower cost computing power and software algorithms to determine the most successful mix of products, brands, and pricing.

How quickly can PCG Net Optimizer be conducted?

While a concept test generally takes three to six months, PCG Net Optimizer can be conducted in less than three months. This not only saves time but lowers costs.

What companies would most benefit from PCG Net Optimizer ?

Until recently, PCG Net Optimizer has only been affordable to large companies. But with the advent of more powerful computers and more complex simulations using advanced analytical techniques, PCG Net Optimizer  is now available to smaller organizations, including those in technology, transportation, utilities, retail, healthcare, and government. Those launching new concepts to an existing customer base or the same concept to a new market segment will benefit from the optimization that PCG Net Optimizer provides.


Customer Experience Design

Are you aware of the benefits of Customer experience (CX) but are not quite sure how to jump-start an effort and demonstrate results? Achieving CX excellence means 1) proactively designing the customers’ experience to enable them to achieve their goals with less effort and more satisfaction; and 2) finding the key touchpoints that turn mere acceptance into true brand loyalty. PCG assists with both customer experience mapping and design. We specialize in designing for the future, not just addressing gaps in your current business approach.

PCG expert Yvonne Nomizu has managed service businesses and designed new customer experiences that delivered a “they got it right” impact.

Is there a software tool for mapping the customer experience?

Yes, there are software tools that help diagram the steps of a customer experience. Some enable the input of data, such as length of time, customer satisfaction, or resources so that the customer experience can be linked back to operations and processes. However, in many cases we believe that software is unnecessary. Communicating to managers and employees about customer experiences is best done through multimedia such as audio recordings of customer service calls or photos of the customer trying to use the product.

Is it necessary to map customer experience for each customer segment?

Any organization should have a robust segmentation schema organized around different profiles that can be identified for marketing and sales purposes. Different segments have different expectations and what they value most may differ – the time-pressed executive will expect a different experience from the budget-conscious student. Organizations can take the similarities and differences and incorporate tiers, options, layers, or additional services.

What are the key success factors to designing the best customer experience?

You need a clear notion of what touchpoints or experience sections most drive your business results, including revenue and profit drivers. An understanding of corporate capabilities and constraints such as service costs, technology, and human resources. And facilitator who can lead a cross-functional team to elicit creative, assumption-busting ideation and design. Finally, you need customers evaluating the new CX prior to launch.


Service Process Improvement

Have you lived too long with a service process that is far from streamlined or effortless for customers and employees? When you have built-in inefficiencies, redundancies, and rework, your service suffers and your employees have no chance to deliver a great customer experience. The challenge is how to clean up internal workflows while maximizing value for the customer or user. PCG uses service blueprinting, lean process design, and user-experience design to find the intersection of process efficiency and customer experience.

PCG expert Yvonne Nomizu has worked with global corporations to redesign processes with a strong customer-focus.

Can we improve both customer experience and business process?

Of course. Companies should redesign their customer experience to reduce friction, eliminate pain points, and deliver their moments of truth. But unless they redesign the business processes that directly support their customer experience, employees won’t be able to deliver or sustain the performance. Bringing the voice-of-the-customer into the business process design not only reduces cost and improves quality, but it delivers the “target” customer experience – by design.

What is the value of linking customer experience measures to operational measures and how would this work?

Operational measures are often already embedded in an organization’s performance management structure. If you understand the relationship between measures of customer experience – for example, my perception of how much the representative cares about me – and operational measures, such as first-call resolution rate, you are more likely to find the win-win solutions. So when it comes time to launch the changed process, you can operationalize it much faster.

Doesn’t Lean Six Sigma methodology take care of customer experience with its Customer Value and Voice of the Customer phases?

Determining what is value-add versus non-value-add to customers is a part of classic Lean methodology. However, the Lean approach never really looks at customer experience – the gestalt of activities, events, communications, services, interactions – which is required to move the needle on engagement and loyalty.

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Service Innovation

Do you need to fundamentally refresh and reinvigorate your service offerings? Service innovation is the discipline used to invent new services that can better meet customers underlying needs. If done well, it creates new sources of revenue and competitive advantage. PCG helps organizations do this by facilitating an innovation engagement involving customer immersion, ideation labs, and proof-of-concept testing.

PCG expert Yvonne Nomizu has developed PCG’s service innovation practice based on her experience launching over a dozen successful new services in financial services, consumer packaged goods, hospitality, and high technology.

What is the PCG Service Innovation methodology?

Our approach is not so much about brainstorming or crowd-sourcing great ideas, but it emphasizes strategic relevance and uses design thinking to be both creative and focused. Rather than 1) soliciting ideas 2) selecting those most promising 3) piloting the winner and 4) deciding whether or not to launch, the PCG discipline is to 1) confirm strategic changes/behaviors desired 2) design a wide range of concepts 3) test/optimize for desired behaviors and 4) roll out where impact is maximized.

How does an organization incorporate “Design Thinking” into its innovation process?

Customer-centric Design Thinking is an innovation methodology that is aimed at a specific customer impact. The approach involves creating a team combining cognitive styles and knowledge bases, framing the problem, generating many options, and developing prototypes for real-world testing.

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Behavioral Influence Strategies

All service organizations are in the business of trying to influence behavior change. Whose behavior needs to change for you to achieve your goals? Government agencies want citizens to comply or respond to requirements; companies want people to shift brands or to buy more; and utilities want customers to engage in energy conservation. PCG addresses these situations by understanding motivations and behavioral influences, then designing interventions – a new service, communication, marketing message, program, or even an attitude – that inspire the ideal behavior. Psychology and behavioral science are used to determine motivators while customer experience research uncovers the context in which the behavior occurs.

PCG expert consultant Tom Cooper specializes in helping senior leaders think strategically about not only achieving customer satisfaction and loyalty but also designing services and communications that influence customer behavior.

How do you develop an understanding of what drives people’s behavior?

When developing influence profiles, we study what people think (for example, what grabs their attention, what their preferences are, and what they remember); how people feel (about themselves, your organization, your products or services); and what people do (their choices, behaviors, purchases, and influences).

What is an example of identifying behavioral influence strategies that link to business goals?

One example is that utility companies want to service customers with reliable, safe water and associated services, but they also want to encourage conservation, a key business goal. Another example is that a bank wants customers to shift from calling the call center to using the online or mobile channels. Lastly, we have worked with financial institutions that want to encourage people to respond to regulatory requests as soon as possible.

Isn’t it pretty clear what customers want – fast, easy, courteous service?

Yes, they want those things. But they also have other underlying needs, such as to feel recognized, connected, and cared for. Depending on their profile, they may want more or less information or hand-holding. To be truly successful with your customers and to nudge them toward positive behaviors, you need to understand their individual outlooks and motivators.

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