Mastercard Start Path selects TruRating to join award-winning program

TruRating recently had the honor of joining a select group of ten start-ups chosen to join the Master Card Start Path accelerator for 2019.  The award-winning program was designed to support later-stage tech startups as they scale through access to Mastercard’s technology solutions expertise and partners around the world.

With a starting pool of over 10,000 companies around the globe, acceptance to the Start Path program is a huge validation of all the work that has gone into building TruRating to where it is today.

To read our full press release, click the link below:

Mastercard Start Path + TruRating

PAX and TruRating Are Simplifying Customer Feedback for Retailers

TruRating, customer experience experts specializing in retail insights, and PAX Technology Inc, a world leader in electronic payment solutions, have announced today the availability of TruRating as a feature of the PAX payment platform, allowing retailers to collect real-time customer feedback at checkout.

TruRating’s point-of-payment customer feedback software is now integrated with PAX’s terminal range, beginning with the PX5 and PX7 models, giving PAX clients the ability to ask customer feedback questions on the terminal at checkout. The simplicity of the solution, coupled with the innovative use of payment technology, has seen a global response rate of 88% of customers, unheard of in the world of customer surveys and customer experience platforms.

“As a global leader in payments, PAX continues to add innovative products to their line of terminals,” said Georgina Nelson, Founder and CEO of TruRating. “They are known as being developer-friendly and the PX devices were the obvious choice for us to continue our success with multi-lane merchants.”

“PAX is committed to enabling our partners to provide services beyond just payments” Andy Chau, President and CEO, PAX Technology added. “In today’s rapidly evolving retail environment, listening to customers is more important than ever and the ability to engage with the once silent majority of consumers is a game-changer for retailers of all sizes. We’re very happy to be working with TruRating to deliver this opportunity to PAX customers.”

To learn more about how TruRating can help your business, visit http://www.trurating.com/business

About TruRating

TruRating is a company specializing in customer experience insights, with a particular focus on retail and hospitality industries. Utilizing original point-of-payment technology, TruRating operates on the simple principle of only ever asking one question per customer, which means the vast majority are happy to respond. As the feedback is collected at point of payment, in-store or online, every response comes from a guaranteed customer and is linked to transaction data. With industry-leading response rates at an average of 88%, TruRating’s unique technology platform gives businesses the real-time data they need to make better decisions. Founded in the UK by CEO Georgina Nelson in 2014, TruRating has since expanded operations to Australia, Canada and the United States, and is live in two additional countries, Ireland and New Zealand. Learn more about the ratings revolution at http://www.trurating.com.

About PAX

PAX Technology Inc is an innovative global provider of electronic payment solutions, offering world-class, cost-effective and superior quality products. Building on its service excellence and proven leadership position, PAX is one of the fastest growing payment industry suppliers with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, excellent R&D capabilities and a worldwide network of sales and channel partners. For more information, please check out http://www.pax.us.

The Influencers: Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

In the first of a brand-new series, in which we talk to some of the leading thinkers and influencers working in retail today, we are delighted to introduce Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle to the TruRating hot seat.

As the founder of Retail Minded – an independent publication founded in 2007 – Nicole has been recognized by companies including IBM, American Express and Vend as a global thought leader, including a recent ranking as #7 out of 100 worldwide retail influencers.

Alongside her own work as a regularly sought-after contributor and consultant for various retail and media outlets, Nicole somehow found the time to co-found the Independent Retailer Conference and author the book, “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing & Marketing Your Business”.

We were delighted when Nicole agreed to give us some time out of her non-stop schedule to talk about some of the contemporary trends and challenges facing retailers large and small.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into retail?

I grew up just outside of Chicago, in a town called Libertyville.  We had a charming little main street and lots of small local businesses.  From the start, it was the business of retail that interested me, rather than where the products came from.  I was fascinated by the idea, that even in a small town, there were opportunities for people to create these unique, one-of-a-kind stores.

I studied retail business management in college and upon graduation built a career in retail.  After stints working as a Marketing Director for the likes of Adidas and Franco Sarto Shoes, I decided I wanted to take everything I’d learnt and put it into something that could help businesses big and small.

That’s how Retail Minded came to life – nearly 12 years ago now.

Are the challenges retailers face today much different to when you started Retail Minded?

There’s much more competition today than 12 years ago.  While it was still a competitive market then – maintaining a high-brand profile has always been a challenge – the way retailers are managing that competition has evolved.

Is there a distinction between the challenges that large businesses are coming up against, compared to the independent sector?

The biggest differentiator between large retail brands and small ones is often resource.  Large retailers may have entire teams dedicated to specific categories of their business.  For the independents, it’s often the case that one or two individuals are truly operating every business touchpoint themselves, which can be a lot to take on.

Does the nimbleness that comes with being an independent offer a competitive advantage over traditional retail? Especially in the light of the supposed ‘retail apocalypse’?

First of all, I don’t think that physical retail is dead. If we look back historically, it’s clear that an evolution is taking place.  There is an increased demand for retailers to make the shopping experience more engaging and exciting than ever before.  With so many choices today, why would someone choose your business if they could go somewhere else and have a better time?

That said, smaller retailers do tend to struggle with the increased expense of constantly striving to stay ahead of the competition.  Smaller retailers almost have to be more proactive in looking ahead to try and stay one step ahead of their customers, than the big guys.

How important is technology in modern retail?

Technology can provide retailers with the clarity to understand who their customers are, what they want and how to deliver against those expectations.  From inventory to marketing to employee management, technology can help with all sorts of different areas.

Can the clarity technology brings help retailers to deliver more ‘human’ and authentic experiences?

Technology alone isn’t going to improve a retail experience.  It needs to be combined with a strong human hand, as, ultimately, it’s human management that strengthens these experiences.  The data that technology collects is only valuable if you have someone who understands your brand on hand to review it.  That’s true across all points of the retail eco-system.

Where do you think the responsibility for providing the best possible customer experience ultimately lies?

When operating a retail business the customer needs to be top of mind in every conversation.  That’s true whether you’re in a forward-facing role or responsible for supply chain logistics far behind the scenes.  Retailers shouldn’t hold one department responsible – it should be top of mind for everyone in your organization.  At the end of the day, you don’t have a business if you don’t have a customer.

Commentators have said that by 2020, CX will be more important than price and even product – what’s your take there?

As we approach 2020 and our use of technology continues to strengthen consumer engagement with the retail-brand experience, customers are no longer going be content with just sitting around and waiting for retailers to catch up with them.  It’s going to be imperative for retailers to provide as many channels of communication to engage the largest captive audience possible.  For the vendor, retail is going to become increasingly complex, yet as far as the customer is concerned, any sign of complexity will need to be eliminated entirely.

Can you give an example of a retailer who you think is leading the way today?

In terms of physical retail, Athleta is doing a really great job of bringing the local community to their storefronts.  By getting local groups and organizations involved in things like early morning activity events, before traditional store hours, they’re reaching a whole segment of new customers they may never previously have touched.

It’s such a simple, but effective way to engage.  If you combine that with their social media, email, catalogues – all the traditional marketing channels – they’re truly making the most of their assets.  Now is it a competitive move? Of course, but I really appreciate the way they make the effort to engage with the local community.

Now when we look online, I’m seeing more and more independent retailers gain heightened visibility through online market places and social media.  They’re optimizing their social feeds to essentially function as storefront windows to their brand, which is allowing tiny little businesses to become quite profitable across the world.

What I love about this is it allows a business with one location to optimize that store to essentially function as a warehouse.  They can still engage with their local community, but thanks to the reach of social media, also send shipments anywhere around the world.

Social media is social selling and independent retailers are really starting to take advantage of this.

Finally then, who are some of your favourite thinkers working in retail today?

I really respect the founder of The Lion’esque Group, Melisa Gonzalez.  They design and curate pop-up shops for various brands.  I love what they do because they’re creating experiences that demand engagement.  The stores might be open for six months or it might just be a week, but they create experiences for product to sell through that people genuinely want to participate in and engage with.  Shoppertainment as my colleagues Kizer and Bender would call it, make sure you credit them for that one!

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A huge thank you once to Nicole for taking the time to speak to us! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.  For more from Nicole why not follow her on Twitter or sign-up to the get the Retail Minded newsletter straight into your inbox here.

And remember to keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment in our retail influencer series very soon!

 

 

 

Dirty Floors and Retail Basics

While there has been a tendency to paint e-commerce as the thorn in the side of traditional retail, a  recent article in Forbes – Cleanup in Aisle 5? – suggests there are some more fundamental problems at play for the brick & mortar crowd.

As reporter Joan Verdon notes, a study from facilities management platform ServiceChannel has found that retailers who neglect store basics in an effort to cut costs are hastening their own demise…

“In a survey of 1521 consumers, 70% customers said they recently have had a negative experience with a messy store, ranging from dirty bathrooms and broken toilets, to disorganized shelves and burned out light bulbs.”

In an age where competition in the retail sector is at an all-time high, the fact that “over two-thirds of customers said they have walked out of stores because they were messy or disorganized” feels like a shocking statistic.

It seems obvious on paper.  If you’re not unable (or unwilling) to uphold basic hygiene standards, you’re not going to be able to count on repeat visits from your customers. So why is it that so many businesses are cutting back on store maintenance and investment in basic improvements?

Partly the approach might be explained away as an attempt to find a quick fix to a more difficult problem.  With rising costs and lagging sales, store maintenance – “a non-sexy part of the business” – can be one of the first things to suffer.  While a new breed of retailers who understand the importance of providing a consistently excellent (emphasis on ‘consistently’) experience have emerged, there remains a worrying trend to expect customers to reward lacklustre standards with continued loyalty.

Another issue lies in the outdated relationship that often still exists between consumer and business.  Many existing survey methodologies deliver poor response rates, providing little visibility into actual on-site conditions and the fundamentals that impact sales.  While a single store manager may be able to see the floor is a mess, from an operational perspective, it can be difficult for companies to measure and stay on top of such issues business-wide.  If customers are walking out because of poor conditions without telling you – clearly there’s a problem. 

While boardrooms may be under pressure to make cuts, failing to invest in basic fundamentals such as cleanliness is head in the sand behaviour. With four out of five shoppers saying they would “rather have a clean store than ones with the newest tech”, and two-thirds saying “retailers are forgetting the basics… in the rush to add tech”, it seems that for some, a back to basics crash course, may be required before it’s too late.

 

 

What lies in store for the future of retail metrics?

Typical – you wait an hour for one article about the inadequacies of our current methods for measuring retail performance, and two turn up at once.

Recently at TruRating Towers we came across two interesting articles both questioning the validity of today’s most commonly used retail metrics.

Writing in Forbes, Richard Kestenbaum’s “The Way We Measure Retail Store Performance Needs to Change“, puts a straight forward and well-argued case for change.

Historically, there have been two metrics fundamental to measuring store performance:

  1. Sales per square foot
  2. Store income statements

The first was often used to provide a base level indicator of performance that allows for store-by-store comparison, regardless of the actual size of each location.  The second is a more localized metric, that allows management to review performance as if each store effectively operated as its own business.

While these were once stable and generally industry-normative indicators for judging a store’s performance, the relationship the modern consumer has with physical retail locations is more complex. Stores are no longer mere warehouses for selling and holding goods but operate in a variety of ways including:

  • Boosting online sales in the local area (the store as billboard)
  • Pick up and drop off point for online purchases and returns
  • As a venue for ‘experiential’ events

While traditional KPI’s are not without value in this new world, our relationship with stores has evolved, and so too, argues Kestenbaum, should our success measures as a result.

In, “Measuring the Store of the Future“, Doug Stephens goes a step further, labelling retail’s traditional KPIs as ‘industrial-age metrics’, “Judging a store’s performance simply by regarding it’s most recent sales results is like evaluating a patient’s health by asking what they had for breakfast that day.” 

Stephen’s hypothesis, echoing his 2017 book Reengineering Retail, is that we will judge the worth of the store of the future in terms of it’s ‘media value’ more than anything else…

But what does this mean?  As the digital space becomes increasingly saturated and reaching anyone online via targeted media becomes near impossible, the value of the store as simply another channel by which to reach customers becomes increasingly tenable, “Your stores are your media,” Stephens writes, “you’re just not measuring it.” (Yet!)

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‘Store as Media’ – a glimpse into the future?

For Stephens, the retail metric of the future will be closer to our existing digital measurements e.g. positioning ‘one positive in-store experience’ as equivalent to a digital impression or click through.  Stephens proposes a method of value calculation that utilizes NPS scores to attempt to derive a quantifiable $-comparison to establish each store’s ‘media worth’.

While certainly thought-provoking, the idea of evaluating store success purely by this kind of hypothetical metric seems a little way off yet.

At TruRating, we believe that ‘Experience’ is the metric that contemporary retail needs to focus on.  While every customer experience is subjective to a degree, providing a consistent way to measure the majority of customer interactions, across a full range of experiential metrics, is the closest one can get to something like an objective truth when it comes to CX.

To put it in simple terms – if you want to understand your business, it’s a necessity to ask your customers about it frequently.  And if you can map that customer sentiment to transactional point-of-sale data while you do it?

Well, you just might be on to something!

Leaving a Lasting Impression: Traditional vs. Digital Marketing

Modern Marketing:  A Digital Love Affair

Good data is the foundation upon which strong marketing decisions are made.  The more data at our fingertips, the more targeted we can get.  Which goes some way to explaining the contemporary marketer’s infatuation with all things digital.

Digital is steeped in data.  The ability to A/B test every permutation down to the smallest detail often makes it irresistible to the analytically minded.  Indeed, spend on digital now dwarves that of all other categories, having beaten out its closest rival television just recently.

Traditional vs. Digital – but is it a binary choice? 

Of course not. While digital may be the market leader, at least when it comes to pure $-spend perspective, we’ve gathered evidence to suggest that traditional marketing still has a few tricks up its sleeve and that a combination approach is the most effective.

We’ve collated over 48,000 responses from shoppers across a variety of retailers that deploy our technology, and made some surprising discoveries about the type of marketing that lingers longest in our minds, and is most likely to shape our behaviours.

In our latest white paper, we take an in-depth look at the fresh evidence we’ve pulled together combined with further industry research, to give practical advice and recommendations that will be invaluable to any marketer looking to optimise their budget.

To download your very own copy, just click on the link below.

Leaving a Lasting Impression: A Marketing White Paper

What’s the verdict from Forrester’s CX NYC Conference?

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Forrester’s annual CX NYC event is known in the CX world as one not to be missed, and so we were delighted to be in attendance yet again. If you couldn’t make it this year, we’ve brought you some of our key takeaways from this year’s thought-provoking two day event, with a deeper dive into one theme that we know is a particular pain point for CX professionals.

  1. Authentic commitment to brand values that resonate with your audience is essential to growth and maintaining loyalty, especially as Gen Z are entering the market.

Forrester are defining this as the rise of “values-based customers”: a growing number of consumers who will choose, switch and boycott brands based on its ethical/social justice stance, who expect company CEOs to stand up personally for what is morally ‘right’, and who trust companies more than governments to solve social issues.

Ahead of the curve here are brands like Patagonia for their stance on environmental awareness, foregoing potential revenue to encourage people to reuse old damaged clothes and product instead of buying new ones; and REI, again sucking up potentially significant losses to close down for Black Friday as part of their core belief that people should #optoutside instead, to destress and spend time with loved ones instead of being stuck inside working or part of a frantic shopping melee.

Forrester advises all CX professionals to work with their companies to consciously decide how much they should integrate their values into their business model, and how much they will highlight those values to consumers. No longer can businesses remain aloof and agnostic about issues, if they wish to stay relevant.

  1. CX is stagnating.

Forrester used an early keynote speech in their flagship event as a wakeup call, to brands and to the CX industry as a whole.  The scores in this year’s CX Index report remained largely flat against last year, with no organizations emerging as leaders of the pack.

Forrester recommend two ways that businesses who want to ‘change the game’ can really start to push here: a) understand the impact that emotion has on CX, and really focus – more than ever before –  on how you can start to tip the scales here for your customers; and b) Ensure you’re capable of measuring CX, how those changes you make impact it, and that your measurement tools allow you to tie this to business objectives of loyalty and – of course – revenue (more on this below).

CX NYC 2019 board_what customers really want

  1. Tying CX to revenue growth is absolutely vital.

And yet it’s one of the toughest challenges for CX professionals, according to those we’ve spoken with.

Proving the value and ROI of your company’s CX programs is key to a) getting buy in from the top down – a must if said programs are going to thrive and succeed – b) securing further investment, whether that’s in terms of time, technology or training & recruitment, and c) ensuring that your programs are ultimately successful in terms of your key business objectives: increasing customer loyalty and spend.

According to Forrester, one of the common missteps in tying CX to revenue include over-reliance on NPS as the only metric. They don’t suggest that NPS isn’t valuable by any means, just that there are other indicators that may have even more impact, particularly those associated with enrichment of the relationship.

They note that collecting feedback at point of sale is an important data source when it comes to tying CX to revenue, especially with the additional value of real-time responses and gaining a much larger sample size.

Having a plan for what you want to measure is obviously important. It sounds like common sense, but it’s very easy to get almost too enthusiastic and start trying to capture data that actually doesn’t relate to your core objectives.

Which brings us to the final point – prioritization. How you prioritize which fixes to make first depends on the relationship between CX and revenue, and this is why getting mass, accurate data is key. It’s impossible to prioritize effectively without first measuring which elements of CX matter most – to your brand and bottom line. And most businesses right now don’t have the tools to do this. Accurate, mass feedback from customers at the point of sale, returned in real-time, is a powerfully  effective tool in any CX practitioner’s toolkit.

The opening keynote speech from Forrester at CX NYC 2019 began with the idea that CX as an industry has stalled and needs a fresh outlook. It’s our goal to provide that fresh outlook by giving a voice to every customer, and helping our retailers listen, understand and ultimately change their CX for the better, based on that voice, that truth, that only customers can provide.

The Art of the Survey

Customer Experience Icon Shep Hyken, was kind enough to feature a guest post from Georgina on his wonderful blog recently over at Hyken.com.  A fantastic speaker and all-around nice guy, Shep has authored several NYT bestsellers including his most recent opus The Convenience Revolution.  For daily doses of  CX wisdom, we highly recommend following Shep on Twitter where he posts regularly along with collecting his five top customer experience related articles each week.

We wrote a piece focusing on the much-maligned ‘art of the survey’ and why in nearly all cases, one question is more than enough for the majority of customers. Here’s a little taster of the post, you’ll find the link to the full article at the bottom of the link.

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One of the biggest misconceptions about collecting customer feedback is the idea that asking more questions provides more of the insights you’re looking for.  In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it may be tempting to ask a customer to fill out a survey before they leave your store or solicit feedback online with an incentive on their receipts, there’s a reason those methods tend to fall short on capturing meaningful insights.  In many cases, the response rates are extremely low because customers simply don’t have the time or desire to take a survey.  And when customers do respond, you run the risk of only hearing from those who complete it to earn the incentive, which can damage the accuracy of their responses.

With short attention spans and little patience for anything that may slow down the shopping experience or infringe on free time, many shoppers aren’t looking to fill out long surveys for businesses.  In fact, roughly 80% of consumers believe the most important part of good service is the ability for a company to respect their time.

Striking the delicate balance of garnering feedback from customers, without negatively impacting their experience can be challenging, but the good news is it’s not impossible.

Sometimes a less is more approach can help you gain accurate and powerful customer insights…

Click here to read the full post. 

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What is social proof and why is it important in marketing?

The history of social proof

Social proof as a concept has been around for quite some time. Psychologists were describing it decades ago (perhaps most notably Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book Influence: The psychology of persuasion). However, it’s only recently that we’ve seen it become the focus of intense interest from marketers – particularly marketers in the digital space.

A great example of social proof from pre-digital times is choosing a restaurant. You’re on vacation in a completely new area. Your first day you go for an early evening stroll to find a place to eat. Of course, the beachfront is filled with appealing-looking seafood restaurants.  You walk by three that are almost exactly the same. All look good, but two are almost empty and one is almost full. Which do you choose?

The vast, vast majority of us will choose the busy restaurant. Even though we know this means that service will probably take longer. It may not even be a fully-conscious decision – such is the power of social proof.

This is but one example – there are all kinds of ways that social proof is influencing our behavior every day – from working later because our colleagues tend to, to watching a box office hit movie or reading a bestselling novel.

As much as we all love to think of ourselves as independent, free-willed individuals, the truth is that we’re all human, and as such all subject to a certain amount of ‘herd mentality’: we like to fit in.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Social Proof Pioneer: Elvis Presley

Recent developments in social proof

So why has ‘social proof’ as a concept suddenly moved front and center of many a marketer’s spheres of interest?

Well, consider the above restaurant example. These days people are as likely to hop onto the TripAdvisor app on their phone as they are to take a chance on strolling up & down the road to pick out a restaurant. And what powers TripAdvisor? Social proof in the form of ratings and reviews.

While restaurants and cafes remain the top category that consumers check reviews for, all types of commerce are now subject to social proof. Even in the case of buying products in a brick & mortar store, people still often jump online to check out reviews first (usually for larger ticket items – not so much when buying a pack of gum). In fact, in 2018 56% of consumers read reviews on their mobile devices while browsing in-store.

It’s not just reviews. The simple power of knowing that lots of people have made the decision we’re considering can help push us one way or the other. Hence ads and sign-up CTAs have started to include little nuggets such as “114, 506 people in your area have already joined us!”. Next time you’re booking a hotel, notice the little pop up that tells you something like “This hotel has been booked 19 times in the past 24 hours”.  Even Candy Crush, when encouraging you to buy extra moves to get past a level, now tells you reassuringly, “28, 881 people used extra moves to complete this level”. Oh, well, in that case…

Other types of social proof include celebrity endorsements, expert endorsements (“9 out of 10 dentists recommend…”) and quick stats similar to those above, like “84 people are currently viewing this webpage”. However, ratings and reviews are where the big business (and hand in hand, the gaming and the fakery) lies.

Social proof and marketing

Whether you’re marketing a product, service or experience, if you have no online reviews, you have a big problem. 92% of consumers will hesitate to make a purchase if there are none, according to this 2017 survey.

86% of shoppers will look for reviews according to this 2018 consumer survey – and this is only going to grow. In the 18-34 category, 95% of people look for reviews, and 92% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

This last stat was fairly astounding to me. As a marketer, I’d always understood ‘Word of Mouth’ (or WOM) marketing to be the ever-elusive holy grail for marketing, something that money can’t buy, and that ‘friends & family’ recommendations were the most powerful of all.

And yet here is a growing body of evidence that online ratings and reviews are almost as powerful as a personal recommendation from a family member.

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TruRating collected more reviews for a London based DimSum restaurant than Disney World

How to get social proof

Whether you work in retail, hospitality, service or pretty much any industry going, there is a multitude of tools available to help you increase your business’s social proof.

Here is our run-down of the factors you should keep in mind when considering these tools:

  • Mix it up. Online ratings may be the most powerful tool in the kit, but ‘recent customer activity’-type quick stats have been said to boost conversion rates by 10-25% in e-commerce.
  • Quantity counts. People find your rating more trustworthy if they can see a lot of people have rated. Choose a tool that makes it as easy as possible for people to rate, and watch your social proof skyrocket!
  • Don’t aim for perfection. This fascinating study found that not only is the quantity of ratings way more important than quality but that a perfect rating average can actually hurt your business, as readers view it as a suspect.
  • Timing is, if not everything, then certainly very important. 70% of people responded to a question about how recent the reviews need to be in order to trust them with ‘within one month’. More than half of those preferred ‘within two weeks’. Choose a tool that keeps your ratings display fresh.
  • Make sure you’re pushing traffic in the right direction. No sense having all this fantastic influence on your consumer’s buying behavior if they’re not then directed to the right place (such as your website). If the increase in traffic picks up enough, you’ll also see a positive impact on your SEO – win-win!

TruRating and social proof

By asking customers one simple question each as they pay, both online and in-store, TruRating gets businesses more ratings than they’ve ever had before.

With the highest response rates of any customer rating system, we’ve helped a small London restaurant chain gain more ratings in just two years than Disney World has in total.

And it’s not just about the numbers…once you’re collecting all those ratings, we can help you leverage them in the most valuable possible way, through real-time updates on your website that help positively influence your customers’ buying behavior.

Speak to us about how you can use your in-store ratings to boost online social proof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NPS: where next for the Net Promoter Score?

NPS was developed by an employee of Bain & Co consultancy in 2003, to provide a way to measure customer satisfaction as it correlated directly to increased sales.  The method – traditionally a simple one question survey – asks customers to rate their experience on a scale from 0-10.  An NPS Score is derived by subtracting the percentage of customers who rated 0-6 (“detractors”) from those who rated 9 or 10 (“promoters”).  Those who score 7 or 8 are considered “passives” and not counted in the calculation.  While the score has been massively popular in boardrooms across the US, it is not without its critics…

A recently published story in the Wall Street Journal – The Dubious Management Fad Sweeping Corporate America ­– is one of the more damning recent examples.  Based on an investigation of the company reports of over 688 S&P 500 Index businesses, the piece questions the ‘cultlike’ following NPS has developed, and while not outright claiming it to be a false indicator of performance, enough questions are raised to suggest the authors aren’t fans.

Part of the appeal of a system like NPS to the busy executive must surely lie in its apparent simplicity.  “Push the score up and you make more money”, provides a simple goal for a distracted mind.  And while there is evidence to suggest that NPS may be reasonably effective as a superficial performance indicator, good or bad, it is much more limited as a tool to show businesses where they should be focusing their valuable time and energy.

Though expanded versions of NPS have been developed to include follow up questions asking why a customer is scoring them a 7 rather than a 9, response rates tend to be so low (5% according to the WSJ source) as to be almost meaningless as a realistic representation of actual customer sentiment.  The glut of companies in recent years whose sole purpose is supposed to help to businesses improve their NPS, smacks of naivety at best and opportunism at worst.

iStock-1086229740.jpg‘Managing to a metric’ comes with its own cultural baggage for organizations too.  Companies who focus solely on NPS, tend to be very good at creating employees who are very good at, well, achieving high NPS scores.  The ‘one-size fits all’ design of NPS can also offer a somewhat reductive way to view the lived complexities of the modern retail environment.  Businesses who listen to the needs of their customers as a strategic goal are likely to see an uplift in NPS regardless.

In our own work, we’ve noticed that more often than not context is key (something not always captured by NPS as a standalone figure). Analyzing the data from one of our clients, we noticed that both ‘Indifferent’ and ‘Promoter’ customers tended to have very similar profiles of spend and basket size.   For this business, NPS wasn’t a great predictor of spend in the short term at all.

Only by looking across a much longer time period were we able to identify that that ‘Promoters’ (and even then, only those who scored absolute highest) were more likely to return and make subsequent visits.  While this aligns with the NPS philosophy and suggests good news for businesses who rely on subscription models or customers who make frequent repeat visits, for the business looking to maximize the value of a single but high-value transaction, an NPS score might mean very little.

At TruRating, while we offer a version of the NPS question within our toolkit, it is only a small part of what we do.  By giving businesses the ability to ask questions across a range of metrics, including specific initiative-based questions, tied to a response rate of up to 80%+, we are confident in the claim that we offer merchants a much more robust and actionable solution.

RetailEXPO 2019 Wrap-Up – what we learnt.

RetailEXPO has fast become a highlight in the European retail calendar and this year’s event was another fantastic showcase for the latest in technology, design and innovation. We were absolutely thrilled to play an active part in the show this year, with TruRating founder Georgina Nelson speaking to a packed house on the Marketing + Branding stage on Day 1. It’s hard to capture the breadth and diversity of the action on display over the course of the event, but here are a few of our key takeaways.

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Dismantling Myths – ‘The death of the high-street’

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, picked up on a common thread for industry analysts worldwide when she noted that a lot of her and the BRC’s time was still spent “trying to dispel the myth of the death of the high-street”.  In 2019 the fact that this message still has to be driven home feels a little strange.  While no-one would deny the seismic impact of e-commerce, as industry analyst Steve Dennis noted this time last year – Physical Retail Isn’t Dead. Boring Retail Is.

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The Future is Personal

Martin Wild, the Chief Innovation Officer for MediaMarktSaturn (one of Europe’s leading electronics retailer imprints) delivered a refreshingly honest keynote on the future for next-generation retail.  While Wild was happy to admit that, “I don’t know what the future of retail will look like”, he was clear on one thing – “personalisation and hyper-personalisation will be a very big thing.”  As customers become increasingly used to brands building experiences around their expectations, this seems like one of the few remaining certainties in an ever-changing retail landscape.  A quick shout out to Andrew Busby, who ably intro’d the Headline Stage at the event – if you haven’t already, check out his excellent regular retail column in Forbes.

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Data-Driven Insights Today

While we’re not usually ones to toot our own horns, we’d be remiss not to take a quick look at Georgina’s feature on the Marketing and Branding Stage.  Discussing our work with JD Sports, it was great to be able to shine a light on a collaborative relationship, showing how TruRating has helped the retailer to operationalize their customer feedback, rather than simply use it as a marketing opportunity. George offered a strong call to action on the day, “Find a customer feedback solution that removes friction, connects sentiment data to basket and delivers in real-time”.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves 😉.

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As always, a huge thanks to all the hard work put into the event by the organizers and folks behind the scenes.  We were honoured to take part in such an exciting showcase for the retail community.

A final word of appreciation to our incredible partners FIS, Worldpay and Payment Express for giving us the opportunity to showcase our technology on their stands.

We can’t wait to do it all again next year.

TruRating at Retail Expo 2019

We are delighted to be speaking at the Retail Expo 2019 in London on May 1-2.  As one of Europe’s leading events for retail technology and design, it’s an honour to share the stage with so many fantastic retailers and industry names.

Georgina will be taking to the Marketing & Branding stage with JD Sports Head of Retail Kevin Dowson, in a panel entitled “Innovating the Basics: Using data-driven insights to improve the fundamentals of customer experience”.

You can expect to find out about subjects such as…

  • Understanding the core factors driving your customer’s shopping behaviour
  • Data backed methods for improving customer experience and correlated revenue
  • How to collect feedback without impacting the customer experience
  • Discovering the ROI of being excellent at often neglected retail basics
  • Operationalising customer experience-based performance metrics

Join us to find out how JD Sports has used TruRating on their journey to become one of the British highstreets biggest success stories (the JD Group recently acquired iconic US sports retailer Finish Line to overtake Sports Direct as Britains’s leading sportswear retailer!)

We recently filmed a testimonial with the team that we look forward to sharing in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s a couple of very nice things that they’ve said about us,

TruRating has removed the guesswork… we’re not spending resource on initiatives that we only assume will delight the customer.” Wayne Davies, Retail Director, JD Sports

 “The bonus is that you don’t have to have a degree in data science to understand the insights.” Lee Bagnall, Managing Director for JD Outdoors

You can register for the Retail Expo free of charge here

If you’d like to book a demo with one of the TruRating team in person, just leave your details on our event landing page and we’ll be in touch.

Georgina will speak with Kevin Dowson, Head of Retail JD Sports, at 1.35pm on May 1st on the Marketing + Branding Stage.  Read the full program entry here.

 

How to put Customer Experience Theory into Practice

A recent report by Bain & Company contained the somewhat shocking statistic that while 80% of businesses believe they provide a ‘superior proposition’ only 8% of their customers agree.

For those in the retail business, this highlights one of the key challenges facing the industry today – how to close the gap between the service you think you’re providing and your customers lived experiences.

The evidence is there to show that a well-executed CX strategy really is one of the key drivers for the ‘holy trinity’ of customer spend, loyalty and advocacy, but actually implementing an approach that works for your business can be a complicated endeavour.

To help you make the leap from theory to practice, we’ve collected a series of insights from some of the best minds working in customer experience today.  Practical tips that you can start to put to work right now, or at the very least, use as inspiration for your future CX adventures.

Jeanne Bliss – Get Deliberate

For five-time Chief Customer Officer Jeanne Bliss, taking a deliberate approach to customer experience is key: “What is the memory you want to imprint on your customers? Are you hiring the right people and behaving the right way to make those moments?”

In a world where up to 80% of Gen-Z shoppers prefer to shop in-store, but often turn to online for convenience sake, it’s up to retailers to find ways to draw shoppers into their doors. By focusing on the tangible elements of your customer experience (our data indicates that outstanding service is a key driver here) you can connect with your customers in a truly ‘meaningful’ sense, without necessarily requiring a huge output in terms of costs.

Tip: Every interaction with a customer provides an opportunity to create an ambassador for your brand – be deliberate in your efforts to empower your staff so that they can make decisions that are right for your customers and business both.

Jeremy Watkin – Be Part of the Solution 

Jeremy Watkin, thought leader and co-creator of the Customer Service Life Blog, believes everyone is responsible for the customer experience: “Before we start beating the drum, let’s roll up our sleeves and be part of the solution. This means that whatever your level in your organization, you can start improving the CX right now.”

Whatever the size of your business, individuals should be given the chance to shine. A shift manager at one our partner merchants, noticed a dip in scores for product and service scores across the evenings in his busy urban location. After an inspection of the floor, it became clear that stock and staffing issues were affecting the customer experience.  Through a few simple measures – reshuffling the staff schedule and ensuring product layouts remained consistent across the day –  he was able to achieve a 22% increase in satisfaction with a 12% associated increase in customer spend.

Tip: ServiceChannel recently reported two-thirds of customers have walked out of stores because they were messy or disorganised.  Investing in a tool that helps measure service standards at the individual and store level can help you to avoid basic, but costly, mistakes.

Shep Hyken – Convenience is King  

For New York Times best-selling author Shep Hyken (The Convenience Revolution), the businesses that will lead the way tomorrow, are those that make it easy to shop with them.  To truly please your customers, you have to focus on ‘innovation that makes life more convenient for them’.

The rise of “Click & Collect” is one example of a recent retail trend, born as a result of businesses adapting to the needs of the modern consumer.  While overcoming limited retail space can pose a challenge in terms of fulfilment pressures, for those who can get it right, it’s been shown to be a winning formula.  UK retailer Next was able to see off the challenges of an increasingly difficult market, largely in thanks to its Click & Collect program, which grew by 15% following a strategic investment in fulfilment capabilities.

Tip:  Investment in operational capabilities like fulfilment can be just as important as the more obvious front-line aspects of your customer experience.  If you can anticipate your customers’ needs, it makes the choice to do business with you a much easier one.

Nate Brown – Voice of the Customer is Key   

Nate Brown, Director of CX at UL EHS Sustainability and co-founder of CX Accelerator, warns that in today’s environment, “Competition is too fierce to be asleep at the experience wheel”.  For Brown, the missing bridge from theory to action is the “Voice of the Customer” (VoC). Without having an accurate tool in place to help listen to and react to customer response, it can be hard to know if you’re focusing on the right priorities.

Retail Prodigy Group (master franchisee holders for Nike in Australia and New Zealand) utilized VoC technology to help them do just that.  By measuring the impact of a series of relatively simple service standards – asking for a customer’s first name, offering multiple product selections, smiling at checkout – the retailer was able to clearly demonstrate their value to staff, increasing compliance, and shortly thereafter revenues, in one fell swoop.

Tip: A Voice of the Customer tool can help you to make informed strategic decisions for your business.  When looking at providers, it’s important to consider both measuring customer satisfaction and the associated revenue opportunities. 

Brian Dennis – Show the ROI of your Initiatives    

For Brian Dennis, former VP Customer Experience at Kohl’s, one of the greatest challenges facing professionals today is the challenge to secure executive support for customer experience initiatives, “All the time and effort spent planning and designing a CX program will be for nought without an ROI that meets similar criteria to other areas within the business.”  While trusted sources like the Forrester Customer Experience Index have shown that incremental CX performance can be worth millions of dollars in revenue, external evidence isn’t always enough to make a business case.

Working with a large discount-retailer, we helped the operations team to deliver quantifiable proof that the cost of additional training to special ‘Service Champions’ was a worthy investment.  By providing a simple framework to measure the impact of their efforts (and a clear projected long-term ROI) a once seemingly complicated decision, became much simpler. 

Tip: If you can clearly tie your initiatives to revenue opportunities, it becomes much easier to earn support for CX goals with executive teams. Be prepared to justify your ambitions at both a customer and business level!

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No matter the size of your budget or team, there is never a wrong time to think about the ways you can implement CX best practices into your day to day operations.

Tools like TruRating, provide a simple and effective way to both manage and prove the value of your initiatives. If you would like to discuss how we could help you to get the most out of your CX strategy for the year ahead, we’d love to hear from you.

Email us at hello@trurating.com or visit our Let’s Talk page to find the direct phone number for your region.

Continue reading “How to put Customer Experience Theory into Practice”

CX Icon: Brian Dennis

This week, we were fortunate enough to speak to Brian Dennis, known throughout the country as the “the customer service guy”.

An internationally renowned CX innovator and forecaster, Brian has served as a Fortune 150 executive – most recently as VP Customer Experience at Kohl’s – alongside being the best-selling author of his newest book “If the Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in the Wrong Seat”.

Brian is one of the most requested keynote speakers on the topic of customer experience and we wanted to get to know a little more about how Brian got into CX, how the industry has evolved since he started, and where we’re heading next.

Hi Brian – thanks so much for finding the time to speak to us.  To get things started, could you give us the abbreviated version of how you got into CX and ended up where you are today?

My passion for customer experience started at an early age when I was selling seeds in my neighbourhood. There was a man on our block who all of the kids were afraid of by the name of Mr. Groshack – think old man Marley from Home Alone. Anyway, he stopped me to buy a pack of seeds. A few months later he stopped me again and said the seeds never grew.  Without hesitating, I reached into my pocket, took out a dime and gave it to him with the hope I would never run into him ever again. Fast forward to the following summer, I just began selling my seeds when Mr. Groshack stopped me and said he would buy them all.  I never ever forgot his words – “I like the way you do business kid.”

Ever since then I’ve seen the rewards both personally and professionally that come when you treat people fairly and deliver a great service experience. I have continued to capture those learnings and am now happy to be in a position to share with others around the world.

Retail teams sometimes struggle when it comes to proving the immediate ROI of customer experience – do you have any advice for showing value to busy executive teams?

Great question.  One of the biggest challenges I hear from CX professionals is how do I get the C-Suite to buy into my initiatives. They are passionate about their ideas and expected benefits but struggle to identify a hard return value. More simply, they struggle to get a budget approved because the ROI in most instances has not been quantitatively expressed. Soft benefits rarely work anymore.  All the time and effort spent planning and designing a CX program will be for nought without an ROI that meets similar criteria to other areas within the business.

A formula I like to use is CX ROI = 100 X (Benefits – Investments) / Investments.

An example of a commonly used benefit would be revenue. For example, Forrester Customer Experience Index showed that the largest companies in select industries can earn up to hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue for every one point of increase in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). That’s a powerful metric and a great start. Other benefits such as customer satisfaction, margin improvements, retention, reducing customer service costs (remember – sometimes the best service is no service at all), loyalty increases and many more are now measurable components that allow you to formulate a return on investment.

Now, calculate the investments that are going to help you achieve the desired result e.g technology upgrades and development, training requirements, operating costs such as improving a mobile app… and you’ve got your ROI.

A recent client of mine was a call center who took over 3 million calls annually for a large retailer. They were able to identify almost 20% of their calls could have been avoided if the customer was just simply more aware of the self-help tools that were available to them and expand the offering to multiple platforms. So, the call center estimated they could reduce their calls at a cost of $6 each for a total cost savings of $3,600,000. They brought forward this ROI, got approval and over the course of the following year actually saved close to $4,000,000.

What is your take on the current landscape generally – do you believe in the feted ‘retail apocalypse’ or is that a misunderstanding?

Certainly, if one were to look at the last decade, you would hypothesize that a retail apocalypse is upon us. Heck, if you even looked at the 5800 store closures last year and compared that to the 5846 store closure announcements in just the first quarter of this year alone, one may be running for the hills. Let me give you one more stat – UBS is expecting the number of store closures to reach 75,000 by 2026.

So yes, the current landscape is changing and it’s changing fast. However, I don’t see a retail apocalypse but rather an industry that is navigating how best to compete both off and online. More specifically, how to blend these commerces into a unified customer experience that readily allows a very simple experience – on the customers’ terms.

“I don’t see a retail apocalypse but rather an industry that is navigating how best to compete both off and online.”

Despite the retail apocalypse chatter you read online and hear in the media, these closures are not necessarily bad. As I travel the country speaking on the topic of customer experience, most industry experts are in agreement that the US has too many stores. So, utilizing their stores to be more productive such as Click & Collect, Ship From Store and other revenue generating opportunities will be key in their survival. E-commerce is going to continue to grow at rapid speed. UBS, who I mentioned earlier, forecasts that e-commerce will account for 25% of all US retail sales by 2026 which is up from about 16% today.

It’s an exciting time as you are starting to see online players start to expand their businesses into offline. Look at Wayfair, the Boston based furniture retailer whose net revenue topped $2 billion in the 4th quarter last year, announcing its plans to open its first full-service retail store this fall. These businesses are getting smarter and testing the customer experience in pop-up shops in advance before spending large capital dollars on a physical store presence.

And it’s not just Wayfair pursuing this true omnichannel experience. Amazon, Rent the Runway, Casper, Madison Reed & others are now piloting these into these brick-and-mortar footprints. In fact, where I live in Milwaukee, TripAdvisor is opening up a store in our airport later this year.

I would say it’s one of the most exciting times I have seen to be in retail, but also one that requires an incredible conviction to keep the customer front and centre in the planning of every experience you are trying to deliver.

In your view, how have customer expectations ‘changed’ in recent years – are people harder to please?

Absolutely, customer expectations continue to climb and the ladder to please them is raised every day. You almost have to assume that customers are not going to be satisfied tomorrow by the same offerings as today. Customers now operate in this real-time digital and always-on world. As a result, their expectations continue to rise. In a recent survey released in 2018, nearly two thirds (59%) of survey respondents had higher expectations for customer service than they did just a year ago. That same 59% of respondents have also used 3 or more channels to get their questions answered and that’s why it’s important for businesses to convert multiple touchpoints into a single seamless experience.  But the good news is they continue to value great service and those businesses that can deliver on that will be rewarded.

“Customers now operate in this real-time digital and always-on world. As a result, their expectations continue to rise.”

A trend that I am starting to see growing in importance, is customers are now demanding more than ever before that their issues get resolved in a single interaction. In many surveys, it can be the single most important aspect of them rating an experience as good and themselves as more loyal. With video chat, social, co-browse, AI agents and converging in-store and online technology, customers now have a greater choice of servicing their needs on their terms than at any other time.

Ok, so what’s next in retail?

A leaner, meaner and faster retail is what’s next.  Seriously, you are already seeing major shifts in department superstores with the likes of Kohl’s, Target, Walmart and Nordstrom’s all experimenting with smaller store formats.  Ironic as it sounds, retailers are coming up with smaller footprints to help their growth. 

But perhaps the biggest change to happen in retail will be that (AI) Artificial Intelligence will become real. I am already witnessing prescriptive analytics finally overtaking predictive analytics, eliminating any opening for decisions based on intuition – which can never keep up with the changing speed of technology and customers. A barrage of voice-activated devices shipping to consumers is changing how they choose to shop and which brands they want to engage with.

Think about this, next year, up to 50% of Search is expected to be accomplished through Voice. What’s game-changing about AI, is that Search will be entirely up to the owner of the eco-system to decide the results. Specifically, Voice will turn e-commerce into a very unfair winner advantage for those who dominate the space. Think Amazon – already this year, more than 60% of Alexa’s results were generally found to be biased. Retailers are recognizing these challenges are finally embracing the need to compete with AI at the very front of this strategy.

A huge thank you to Brian for taking the time to speak to us, if you’d like to reach out to him for more information about what he’s up to email him directly or via his website

For more CX thoughts from Brian, why not purchase a copy of “If the Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in the Wrong Seat“.

That’s a wrap from us for the immediate future for the CX Icon series.  It’s been a blast for us and we hope you’ve enjoyed it too.  Fear not, we will be back soon with more from some of the best minds working in retail today, till then, stay Tru! 

Unlocking the Value of Customer Experience (CX) Initiatives

Putting a Value to Customer Experience

While it’s easy to pay lip service to the importance of customer experience, for those in charge of CX initiatives or Voice of the Customer programs, proving the value of investing in Customer Experience to the wider business can be a challenge.  While a commitment to exceptional service values is commonplace, understanding what that means in a given context, at a given time, is not as simple as it might seem.

Strategic goals tend not to map neatly to the complexities of the retail environment and identifying which aspect of the in-store experience is actually impacting customer spend can be an incredibly complicated task.  When you add the hurdle of proving a quantifiable ROI to the mix, it’s not surprising that while many businesses are saying the right things, they’re not always able – or willing – to provide the support needed to see things through. 

TruRating works with retailers to help them understand – in plain and simple $ terms – which aspects of the Customer Experience are adding genuine value to their business and are therefore worth focusing on.  Here’s a recent example of how we helped one of our clients.

The Context

As part of their 2018 CX program, a national discount retailer wanted to test the introduction of specific service-focused staff across their stores. The purpose? To test whether the staff, known as Service Champions, would enhance CX in stores during the busiest hours and establish a business case for investing in additional training and resources across their entire store network.

As a retailer with a large and varied store footprint – from busy urban locations to remote mural stores – part of the challenge was establishing a fair measurement standard for each of their locations.  Previously used services such as mystery shopping had turned out to be inconsistent, while a receipt based survey program drew so little responses as to be essentially useless.

By asking simple, fast and anonymous feedback questions using the payment terminal itself, we knew we’d be able to gather a statistically relevant data sample in just a few weeks, so we came up with a plan.

Setting up an A/B Test

After meeting with the retailer, we established a selection of pilot stores from both rural and urban locations (to ensure a representative cross-section of their overall store network) and set out to run a simple A/B test approach.

Having identified our test stores, we implemented 3-service related custom questions we knew to be associated with a strong spend uplift.  These were selected to provide clear and measurable goals for the Service Champions and offer a clear way of seeing how impactful they’d be.

With custom questions in place, we established a baseline for performance by measuring TruRating scores and ATV across test control stores before and after Service Champion recruitment. The Service Champions were scheduled during the busiest shifts of the week – Thursday afternoon to Sunday mornings – to ensure that their impact on service would be truly tested.

The Results

In our post-trial analysis, we found that 75% of stores in the test group where Service Champions had been in place saw an increase in Average Transaction Values compared to previous periods.

The biggest impact occurred on the busy Friday afternoon shift when a 6% increase to average transaction value was measured. While the impact on spend for Friday and Saturday mornings was relatively low, these periods saw a much lower volume of transactions, helping the retailer to qualify that their greatest ROI would be during their busiest shopping periods.

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As well as validating the impact of Service Champions on CX and average transaction value by the time of day, TruRating was able to identify differences in response by store type e.g. small-town stand-alone outlet vs urban shopping centre environment, providing a rich area for further segmentation analysis in the future.

By capturing thousands of responses from customers over the course of the trial period, accommodating for contextual analysis based on store size and location, this discount retailer was able to conduct a truly controlled experiment unaffected by external influences. In a short time, TruRating was able to quantify the impact of the Service Champion initiative, across multiple CX drivers, identifying clear ROI for both customer sentiment and spend.

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We’d love to hear from you too!  Get in touch with one of the team to find out how we can better help you implement your 2019 CX Initiatives at hello@trurating.com or head straight to our business page to find out more today.

If you’d like to read more… 

Why not see check out how New Balance used TruRating to reinvent its store layouts here

For a more general introduction to the concept of Customer Experience, you can find the first in a series of posts on the subject here.

 

 

 

 

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