The SPECS model: Part 5

How to design the ultimate consumer experience beyond price.

SPECS is a business model designed as a guide to fuel organizational innovation and relevance. The model is especially pertinent today, during COVID-19 and beyond, as relevant distinction is essential for survival. Each letter of the acronym represents a key component to incorporate into business decisions and strategies. GCS (Goldman Consulting & Strategy) has written an individual article for each, the last of which follows: Security

To review, GCS notes the SPECS, the 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 SPECS reflect:

  • The needed specifications to engage consumers and earn their loyalty.
  • As glasses, the consumers’ lens and perspective.
  • As an acronym, the needed 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

Here’s a quick refresher on the first four:

S= Speed. The essential service component for today’s consumer. Technology has allowed the consumer to essentially access whatever they want, whenever they want. Providers
need to consider speed in current experiences and especially when implementing new products and services.

P= Personalization. Today’s consumer expects customization to their unique wants and needs, and also the ability to personalize products and services to their individualized specifications. Generic marketing and services? So yesterday.

E= Ease. Consumers’ desire a friction-free, pain-free, and even thought-free journey. Accessible; consistent; predictable; even fun. Journey mapping was built for ease and pain point analysis in particular. Alerts, simple applications and notifications all serve to reduce complexity, thankfully providing the consumer with one less thing to think about.

C= Control provides the tools, systems and processes that give the consumer greater power, options, and well, control. Options for budget tracking, financial management and access, and communication preferences all empower consumers to feel more empowered over their financial lives. Incorporating the SPECS components into services and strategies moving forward will help you engage consumers, maintain relevance and encourage loyalty development.

S = Security

As the final component to the SPECS model, Security is the anchor to which the other SPECS components are fastened. Security (including personal and technological safety and privacy), has long been an essential financial institution attribute for consumers. Today’s high-tech economy makes this issue more relevant than ever. Protections against fraud, breaches, and identity-theft resonate. Security is also important for the reputation (and cost controls) of your institution as well. With COVID-19, we must now add the additional burden of the personal health and safety of employees and members in our requirements for security.

Security means being the financial institution that the member never has to think about. Protecting the consumer by providing all services with security at the forefront provides peace of mind and influences the perception of trust. Services such as the ability to control debit and credit access with digital card controls should a card be lost or stolen; proactive recognition and contact by the financial institution in handling suspected fraud (with Speed an essential component here as well); and the ability to access a support center for fraud, potential identity theft or problem resolution after hours, are all ways to provide security to consumers. Examples include Capital One offering customers tips and advice on how to detect fraud; or Discover Card offering a monitoring service for new account openings and searching the Dark Web for personal information on your behalf.

The GCS philosophy of proactive altruism applies well here too and refers to the concept of an organization making the right choice for the consumer without regard for gain or profit. Simply stated, it means putting the consumers’ financial, safety and soundness needs first – regardless of provider — with the end result being the enhancement of trust.

Security also means physical safety. Like ATM safety, or in-branch safety. In-branch safety has been taken to a higher level during the pandemic placing a new emphasis on the importance of sound safety and security procedures within the branches. Additionally, many members do enjoy access to 7/11 stores as part of the Co-Op Network, but when discussed in virtually every focus group we conduct, someone inevitably adds, “But I don’t feel safe using one.”

Enhanced safety features such as biometric log-in and the Apple credit card, designed with security at the forefront with no identifying account numbers displayed on the card, further underscore the importance and desire consumers have for personal security and safety. Companies that provide consumers with secure, innovative products and services gain engagement and further heighten consumer expectations of security offered by their financial institutions.

The importance of security and trust go far beyond financial services. In today’s world of cybercrime, fake news, and COVID-19, safety and trust are hot topics. One online book publishing service offers a Trustpilot “trustscore” rating created from its online reviews. Smartphones offer features such as monitoring your steps, your heart rate and your sleep patterns as a form of personal health protection. Today’s Apple watch goes so far as to provide fall detection and an emergency SOS notice. Social media settings offer a range of privacy settings (and this also falls under Control, as these selections are user-defined, as well as Personalization through customization of preferences). And, the variety of home security services and virtual doorbells with remote camera monitoring is endless. These products, to name a few, underscore that keeping security at the forefront is vital to the consumer.

Businesses offering services that protect the consumer are appreciated and noteworthy. To consumers, money is personal. And as one focus group participant said, “Protect it like you’d protect your family, and I’ll be with you for life.”

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