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Updated: Feb 23, 2021

How to design the ultimate consumer experience beyond price.

This is the second in a series of five articles regarding the SPECS model which Goldman Consulting & Strategy (GCS) identified to aid and guide credit union leaders in their overall organizational strategy. As a reminder from the first article, or for those of you reading for the first time…

The SPECS model describes five core components leaders must consider in driving, and maintaining, relevance and distinction in the marketplace. The SPECS components reflect:

  • the needed product or service specificationsto engage consumers and earn their loyalty.

  • An old-style word for glasses, SPECS describes the consumers’ lens and perspective.

  • Finally, SPECS is an acronym for the needed balance between technology and the personal touch. SPECS provides the structure with which to enhance differentiation and value beyondprice. Innovating around the SPECS will help organizations enrich the user experience and drive greater member engagement.

So, what are the SPECS?

  • Speed,

  • Personalization,

  • Ease,

  • Control, and

  • Security

Our first component, Speed, was discussed in our prior article. To briefly recap: Speed connotes consumers’ instant, “now” expectations for access and information. Think immediate, real-time balances and transaction history through mobile and online, instant issue debit cards and the latest tap-to-pay technology. Consumers want faster, intuitive, super-convenience. Same day pick-up, instant-approval, no-wait solutions all speak to the now mentality consumers demand —and what credit unions must deliver — encompassed by Speed.

P = Personalization

The second component of the SPECS model is Personalization.

Personalization refers both to individualization and customization through technology and to the human touch of personal service. It also challenges us to personalize – even humanize – the digital experience. The question must not beeither/orbut rather andwhen considering personal and digital interactions.

With the advent of big data, consumers have come to expect options and offers that are individualized, personalized, and unique to their requirements. Take Amazon, the definitive leader. As the saying goes, “My significant other never knows what I want; nor do I know what to ask for … but Amazon suggests five things I want every day!” Algorithms have changed our understanding of how providers can and now must cater to us. Yelpsuggests restaurants. Netflixrecommends shows. Social media offers relevant connections. In these cases, Personalizationis achieved through customer data and predictive analytics. How is your credit union leveraging data to suggest, offer, recommend and/or improve your individual member’s lives?

But individualized services doesn’t solely require sophisticated data warehouses or big data. Little data abounds. For example, we can contact members who regularly pay ATM surcharges with free options nearby. Relatedly, how can we incorporate humaninto our technology interfaces? FaceTime, Skype, and the multitude of screen share tools create the expectation of human connection online. Can we allow members to choose a personal representative or team with whom to connect as their “Go-To”? Umpqua Bank offers this service through digital channels today.

Leaders must ask questions of Personalization in innovation efforts. How can we use data to enhance the personal experience? What information and decision supports can we access to recommend, offer, or otherwise inform our member interactions?

As consumers have vastly different needs and financial goals, the ability to customize to their unique needs enhances the overall consumer experience. Consider Progressive Insurance and Rocket Mortgage, where both allow the consumer to customize the product of their choice by selecting parameters based on their own individualized needs for terms, features, and rates to name a few.

Customizing a digital interface based on frequency of usage or preferences, the ability to change the app background, and the ability to create user-defined categories in a budgeting tool are all ways in which the digital experience can be enhanced and personalized. Consider larger limits on ATM withdrawals based on relationship history and perhaps credit rating as another. Consumers also want the ability to create scenarios and manage changes to see the impact on FICO scores.

Allowing consumers to choose communication preferences from your organization is another way to make digital personal. One word of caution here, as we learn repeatedly from focus groups, there is a fine line between personalized communication and intrusion. Consumers are comfortable with text messages with regard to potential fraud, identity theft or a loan update, but significantly wary of push notifications containing the latest marketing promotion. Personalized communication with the member’s best interest in mind creates the personal touch. Generic same-for-all marketing creates the opposite.

As to the personal touch, personal service enhancements could be as simple as a concerted effort to use the member’s name when serving on the phone, in the branch or in an online chat. In the hospitality industry, Marriott personalizes digital communication by placing a “Hello Neil” and “Thank you for your business” message on the in-room television screen.

Along these lines, consider what GCS calls, Proactive Altruism. Proactive altruism is honest. putting-the-member-first, advice. Examples include reaching out to a member with a truly superior refinance or consolidation offer, a better deposit solution, or introduction of a simpler or superior option. Proactive Personalization is also telling a member they should stay with a competitor if indeed it is right for them to do so. Proactive, altruistic, advocating personalization in the eyes of the member can create long-lasting memorable encounters and drive engagement.

Integrating additional personalization into product and service strategies, coupled with an altruistic doing-what’s right for the member philosophy, will guide positive organizational change and strengthen member engagement and loyalty.

How have you, and can you, increasingly customize, individualize and in more ways Personalize your member experience?

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