The SPECS model: Part 3

How to design the ultimate consumer experience beyond price.

To keep it short and sweet, we’ve created a series of articles to describe each one of the components of our SPECS business model. This is our third article, which will focus on Ease. As a quick refresh, or for those of you reading for the first time…

GCS has identified the following five components leaders must consider in driving, and maintaining, relevance and distinction in the marketplace based on years of qualitative and quantitative consumer research. The components are called SPECS, as they reflect:

  • The core SPECS are specifications to engage consumers and earn their loyalty.
  • SPECS describes the components to services and products that consumers desire.
  • Finally, SPECS is an acronym created to describe the balance between technology and the personal touch. SPECS provides the structure with which to enhance differentiation and value beyond price. Innovating around the SPECS will help organizations enrich the user experience and drive greater consumer engagement.

So, what are the SPECS?

  • Speed,
  • Personalization,
  • Ease,
  • Control, and
  • Security

To briefly recap, Speed is the heightened need for immediacy that new technologies are designed to provide, and today’s consumer demands. Access to financial information 24/7 and real-time balances online and through the app provide the member with instant information and service. Outside of financial services, overnight, free delivery options when ordering online and 2-hour grocery deliveries provide convenience and further influence the consumers’ desire for “now” service.

Personalization is individualized, customized, and, well, personal to each member. Both human and tech-based, Personalization is the fulfillment of the wants and needs specific to each consumer. Amazon offers suggestions, Netflix suggests shows and Yelp recommends restaurants. Progressive Insurance lets consumers’ “name their own price.” CUs must tailor products and offers through digital and personal insights. (Think customized outreach to members who pay excessive surcharge fees when a free option is nearby.)

With rapidly changing competitor advances, consumers today demand more than ever. Incorporating Speed, Personalization and the other SPECS components into R&D strategies and service delivery will build and sustain member loyalty.


E = Ease

The third component to GCS’ SPECS model is Ease. Ease refers to the consumers’ desire to enjoy a pain-free journey that is simple and friction-free. Ease requires minimal effort, time or knowledge. Ease means a digital experience consistent throughout, where website and mobile mirror each other, and complexity and unknowns are largely eliminated. Easy means the consumer just doesn’t have to “think” about it. Simply put: how easy are you to do business with … and in what ways can you make doing so even easier?

The SPECS are not mutually exclusive and often overlap. While Ease means no hassle as well as responsive and knowledgeable, Ease is also fast and personalized. Ease is an advocate who looks after you, a “go-to” person who answers your questions, and offers quick solutions that are accurate, and require little to no consumer effort. Ease also means worry-free; so trustworthiness is included as a component here.

Easy also means accessible. ATM, branch and mobile access are obvious requirements — can I have an ATM in my car please — but so are simple-to-execute inter- and intra-financial institution transactions, and credit score access and management. Online account and loan applications providing the option of an entirely online experience and/or the ability to complete online and then allow setting a personal appointment offers the Ease of consumer choice.

Signing up for a service should be easy and not require a phone call or visit. But if more information is desired, a chat, a call, or a follow up request should be intuitive, instant (a nod to the Speed component), and well, easy. Here again is an example of the integration of personalization and digital – through technology channels.

Options for assistance/concierge service with switching bank accounts — including guaranteeing no fees or missed bill payments will occur — provides the consumer with vital piece of mind. Such a service would address the perceived daunting hassle of moving accounts, and proactively provide solutions to meet customer needs. That’s Ease.

Keep the Change, Round Up Savings, Way2Save and other similar programs make saving automatic and provide appreciated value to the consumer.

Making things easy for the consumer is not new, and many examples exist beyond the financial services industry. Grocery stores that offer prepared foods, potentially personalized to your specific liking, take the hassle out of making dinner. Doctor’s offices text you appointment reminders and offer portals to provide ease with communication and scheduling. The “Dummies” brand book series was created to teach virtually any topic with Ease. As technology has, and will continue to overwhelm the consumer with data, the need to make things easy for the consumer has never been greater. The consideration of Ease into strategic decisions and product and services deployment will allow your credit union to provide additional relevance and enhanced distinction for your members.

Neil Goldman

Neil Goldman

Dr. Neil Goldman is Senior Partner of Goldman Consulting & Strategy (GCS, Inc.), an organizational development and marketing research firm founded in 2002, working primarily with credit unions. He also ... Web: Details