Service Encounter Blog #4

Name of service firm: Stitches Clothing Store

Date of encounter: May 21, 2012

Chapter (s) service encounter relates to:

  • Chapter 12-Employees’ Role in Service Delivery
    • Performing the role of marketers
    • The services triangle
    • The effect of employee behaviours on service quality dimensions (responsiveness)
    • Promote teamwork
    • Onstage attitudes
    • Employee appearance, signage
    • Emotional labour

Price of service: $60

Description of encounter:

It was typical rainy weather on Victoria Day so my boyfriend and I decided to go to Mayfair Mall to do some shopping. I did not have anything in particular to shop for at the mall but my boyfriend was in desperate need of some summer clothes. The main reason for going into the clothing store called Stitches was because they were advertising a sale where you could buy two items and get one free with any item in their store. As well, I have shopped at this store location numerous times in the past so I was already familiar with the style, quality, and the price of clothes they sell. The selection for men’s wear in this store is quite small so I did not hold high expectations that we would find something for my boyfriend.

When we first walked into the store, we were greeted by one of the employees and was informed about the current promotion of “Buy 2 get 1 free”. We then walked over to the men’s section of the store and began searching through their summer clothes selection to find something my boyfriend would like. After a few minutes of searching, we found about 8 pairs of shorts and several t-shirts he wanted to try-on. We then walked over to the change rooms where an employee told us about their policy of only allowing 5 items to try-on at one time, which is pretty standard in most clothing stores. There was no wait at the time for a change room so he was given one immediately. During this time, my boyfriend tried on a pair of shorts that were a little too small and although he vocalized this out loud, the employee overseeing the change room did not take notice as she was chatting with her friends who had come into the store. I then took it upon myself to go looking around the men’s section for a larger size in the shorts that were too small. Once my boyfriend was done trying everything on he managed to find 4 pairs of shorts and 2 shirts that he really liked.

Upon walking towards the cash register to pay, we walked by a sign in the store that was advertising a separate deal that we had not noticed before. It was misleading because it was on top of a table that sold t-shirts but said “Shorts 3 from $10”. Because my boyfriend had 4 pairs of shorts we were intrigued to know if this deal would work for the items he had chosen as it would be a better deal in the end. We spent a few minutes looking around for an employee, which was difficult because all they had to identify themselves were lanyards that they wore around their neck. After a few minutes though we found an employee and asked about the other sale and if it could apply to the shorts my boyfriend had picked out. The employee did not understand what sale I was referring to so we had to walk over and show him the sale sign. Once he saw the sign, he immediately said that it did not apply to the clothes we had already selected and that the sale sign should not have been there to begin with. Once we knew the other sale did not apply, we got in line to purchase the items. At this time we noticed there was only one cashier processing customer’s transactions. This created a very long wait as the line-up had began to cut across half the store. Although the employee using the cash register tried to be quick with the transactions it still took about 10 minutes until we were up next. At this point another employee began using the second cash register to process customer’s transactions. Our transaction went through smoothly and we were thanked for visiting stitches and told to have a great day.

Expectations met:

The service my boyfriend and I received while in the store was what I had expected. I did not really have high expectations because from past experiences I know this store is usually very busy and sometimes understaffed. However, there were two incidents I thought were areas that could easily be improved. First, they could have had an employee start using the second cash register as soon as there was a line-up to reduce the pressure on the other employee. This would have been beneficial as, “Employees who feel supported and feel that they have a team backing them up will be better able to maintain their enthusiasm and provide quality service” (Bitner, Gremler, Hiltz, Mahaffey, & Zeithaml, 2007, p. 319). This could in return help boost emotional labour that employees need in order to deliver quality service. Front-line employees require a huge amount of emotional labour because they often times shoulder the responsibility of the company (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 307). Secondly, the company should make sure employees who are overseeing the change room are able to attend to each customer’s requests such as when they need a different size. These contact employees are important because, “They represent the organization and can directly influence customer satisfaction, they perform the role of marketers” (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 303). However, I was very pleased with the fact that my boyfriend was able to select from a variety of different shorts with the same style and fit he was looking for. Also the items were very reasonably priced.

Level of satisfaction rating: 4 somewhat satisfied

Reason for this satisfaction rating:

I gave the overall rating for the service a 4. To improve the service we received, “Employees need to maintain onstage attitudes and behaviours whenever they are in front of the public” (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 303). An “onstage” attitude was not shown by the employee attending the change room as she chatted with her friends and did not ask my boyfriend how things were fitting or if he needed a different size. Finally, even though I appreciated the responsiveness of the employee who helped answer our question about the second sales deal we found, the fact that the sale sign was not accurate caused unnecessary confusing to customers. This poor signage and not to mention the employees lack of distinct appearance by only wearing a lanyard lowered the quality of experience for us.

Likelihood I will be a returning customer: 5 most likely

Why I would return:

The reason I would probably return to this establishment is because of their frequent sales, as I am always interested in getting a good deal. The company was also able to commit to the advertised sale of “Buy 2 get 1 free”, which was the main reason for going into the store in the first place and exhibited an achievement of the services triangle (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 304). Although the service did not exceed my expectations, I was delighted that my boyfriend was still able to get what he came for – some great summer clothes at a great price and I will probably still be loyal to the company by recommending their products to others (Goodman, 2009, p.22). But having loyal customers is just the first step. The company should invest in hiring and retaining superior employees because, “Employees who are not loyal are unlikely to build an inventory of customers who are” (Reichheld & Teal, 1996, p. 91).

References:

Bitner, M., Gremler, D., Hiltz, B., Mahaffey, T., & Zeithaml, V. (2007). Services marketing. Canadian Edition.

Goodman, John. (2009). Strategic customer service: managing the customer experience to increase positive word of mouth, build loyalty, and maximize profits. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/camosun/docDetail.action?docID=10297332

Reichheld, F. & Teal, T.  (1996). Loyalty effect: the hidden force behind growth, profits, and lasting value. Retrieved from http://libsecure.camosun.bc.ca:2058/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/nlebk_7253_AN?sid=2b1153a0-bff9-4cca-bb63-530d652b7b32@sessionmgr12&vid=1&lpid=lp_I

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Service Encounter Blog #3

Name of service firm: Kersten Orthodontics

Date and time of encounter: May 14, 2012

Chapter (s) service encounter relates to:

  • Chapter 10-Customer Defined Service Standards
    • Customer defined standards
    • Soft customer defined standards
    • Soft measurements
  • Chapter 11-Physical Evidence and the Servicescape
    • Physical evidence
    • Packaging role
    • Behaviours in the servicescape (social interaction)
    • Environmental dimensions of the servicescape (ambient conditions)

Price of service: Included with the purchase of braces

Description of encounter:

I have been wearing braces for about 17 months now and every 6 weeks I must see the orthodontist to have them change the wires on my braces for tightening and check on how my teeth are aligning. Because I’ve been to several of these appointments before I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. The employees who perform the services are kind and are able to complete the service in about 30 minutes or less.

When I arrived for my appointment a few minutes early, I was politely greeted by the receptionist and then had a seat in the reception area to wait for the orthodontist. After waiting just a few minutes my name was called and I was taken to the other part of the office where they actually perform the services. I sat down in one of the six chairs they had set up to examine my braces and was asked how I was feeling and if I had any problems with my braces since the last appointment. Given that I had no issues since my last appointment, the orthodontist went straight to taking off the current wires I had in. After the wires were out, I had to decide what colour elastics I wanted placed in. Because I was a little unsure of what I wanted the orthodontist helped me decide by putting one of the elastics around a part of my braces so I could see what it looked like. Once I decided on the colour of elastic I went and brushed my teeth at the sink station and came back to get my new wires put in. I had to wait about 10 minutes for the orthodontist to come back but when the person did I was surprised to see that it was not the same orthodontist I was dealing with before and I was not given any explanation as to why I had someone new. Then, the new orthodontist told me that they needed to clip some of the braces near my back molars with a special tool that had never been used on my teeth before. No explanation was given beforehand about why they had to do this to my braces or how painful the procedure would be. The orthodontist then spent several minutes struggling with this tool to clip the braces and I began to feel intense pressure on my teeth. After the back braces were finally clipped and the new wires were in, I was asked what colour elastics I wanted, which I had already established with the first orthodontist who was servicing me earlier. After another 20 minutes, the procedure was complete and I was told to book another appointment in 6 weeks with the receptionist. Once the receptionist scheduled me for my next appointment she bid me farewell and I was out the door.

Expectations met:

My service expectations were almost all met. The appointment altogether took about 50 minutes, which was more than what I usually expect from past experiences. Also, I felt an explanation or at least a friendly introduction could have been made when the other orthodontist came to complete the service. This is important because, “As firms compete more and more on services, the management of the customer interaction becomes critical to ensure superiority in customer value” (Global Media, 2010, p. 121). Although I did not have to wait that long in the reception area to be serviced, I still enjoyed the ambient conditions that were in place such as the neutral paint colour on the walls, natural lighting, and the room was set to a comfortable temperature (Bitner, Gremler, Hiltz, Zeithaml, 2007, p. 296). This company relies heavily on their physical facility or servicescape to communicate and create customer experience (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 281). The open layout for the reception area is a great example of this, as well as, having a large number of comfy chairs for customers to use, a huge fish tank in the center of the room, and a good selection of magazines to keep customers entertained.

Additionally, because orthodontic services tend to be interpersonal services as they rely heavily on interactions between both the employee and the customer, the servicescape can affect how much social interaction will take place between the customer and the employee (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 290).  For example, the placement of the six chairs where they perform their services on my braces had only a half-wall between them which limits privacy and can reduce the likelihood that a customer will be more social with the orthodontist. Since the servicescape and other elements of an organizations physical evidence are an important part of forming initial impressions or setting up customer expectation, the packaging role can come in handy for businesses like these (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 286). I think the main idea behind this businesses facility interior servicescape is to get the customer to feel calm and comfortable before they proceed to their appointment, as many people can get nervous or anxious about people working on their teeth.

Level of satisfaction rating: 5 somewhat satisfied

Reason for this satisfaction rating:

This service in particular was given 5 out of 7 because there were some areas that could be improved. For starters, no one informed me the cause for the delay when I was waiting for the orthodontist to come back or why I had to deal with a different employee. Secondly, there was a lack of communication between the employee and the customer because I was not given an explanation about what the procedure entailed when they had to clip my back braces. However, what stood out for me in a positive way was how polite and friendly the front desk receptionist was when she welcomed me and bid me farewell. This is important as, “Hellos and goodbyes are beginnings and end points, and the two highest positions in what memory researchers call the serial position curve. In a list of items or events, they will be remembered most easily” (Inghilleri & Solomon, 2010, p. 131). Also, I felt as though I was an important customer when the first orthodontist took the time to help me choose the colour of elastics to wear.

Many of my orthodontist appointments have been relatively routine and somewhat standardized. However, these standards can easily become customer defined as they are based on what the customer requires and expects from the service rather than just on internal company goals. (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 260). Because some people’s teeth can be straightened faster than others the majority of standards set for orthodontic services would be soft standards. I say this because determining whether you like how your teeth look while wearing braces is opinion-based and you cannot really directly observe your teeth becoming more aligned right away. To help close provider gap 2, it may be beneficial for business such as these to initiate trailer calls to gather feedback on the soft measurements used within the service which are, “Administered continuously, whenever a customer experiences a service encounter of the type being considered, and they provide data on a continuous basis” (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 268).

Likelihood I will be a returning customer: 7 definitely yes

Why I would return:

Although my expectations were not fully met I gave the likelihood I would return a top score because  I still have about  7 months left to wear my braces and will need to regularly come back for their services. Furthermore, the employees have always remained professional and met my service needs. I do find that one common area that could be improved is communicating to the patients what the service changes will be, if any, before going ahead with the procedure. Because of this, I do feel at times uneasy about going to my appointments because I have never had braces before and don’t know at what points the service procedure will be changed.

Even with the pain and discomfort at times with having braces, the end result is still worth it for me and I am looking forward to the end result.

References:

Bitner, M., Gremler, D., Hiltz, B., Mahaffey, T., & Zeithaml, V. (2007). Services marketing. Canadian Edition

Global Media. (2010). Fundamentals of customer-focused management. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/camosun/docDetail.action?docID=10417690

Inghilleri, L. (2010). Exceptional service, exceptional profit: the secrets of building a five-star customer service organization. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/camosun/docDetail.action?docID=10382988

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Service Encounter Blog #2

Name of service firm: Romeo’s Restaurant & Lounge

Date and time of encounter: April 28, 2012

Chapter (s) service encounter relates to:

  • Chapter 6-Listening to Customers Through Research
    • Complaint solicitation
    • Posttransaction surveys
  • Chapter 7-Building Customer Relationships
    • The goal of relationship marketing
    • The evolution of customer relationships (customers as acquaintances)
    • Benefits for customers
  • Chapter 8-Service Recovery
    • Service recovery efforts
    • Act quickly (empowering employees)

Price of service: $35.00 (for one person – entre meal and alcoholic beverage)

Description of encounter:

It was a Saturday night and my boyfriend and I decided to try the new Romeo’s Restaurant & Lounge on Blanshard Street. We had both been to a few other Romeo’s locations in the past so we were already familiar with the majority of their menu items. Having said that, the main appeal for us choosing this restaurant was to have a good meal in a newly built restaurant. My expectation was that the quality of food would be similar to what we had tasted at other locations and that the waiters/waitresses would be well-trained, friendly, and efficient.

When we first entered the restaurant at about 6:45pm we were not greeted until my boyfriend had gone up to the hostess table and asked to put our names down for a table of two. The hostess had then stated it would be about a 10-15 minute wait for a table, which I was fine with as it was Saturday night after all. After 20 minutes rolled by, we were taken to a corner table on the far side of the restaurant. Once seated our waiter told us what was on special and left us to look over the menu. My boyfriend and I spent about 10 minutes deciding on what food and drink to order but had to wait 25 minutes after being seated for our waiter to come and take our order. When he did arrive I ordered a cocktail and pasta dish, and my boyfriend ordered a beer and pizza. The waiter did not come back to provide us our drinks until 20 minutes later. When another 20 minutes went by after that we started to become anxious about when our food would arrive. A few minutes later our waiter came by and asked us if we wanted another drink, at which point we said no but asked when our food would be up. He replied that he would check with the kitchen and be back shortly. Another 10 minutes go by and the waiter stated that our food should be up next and quickly left. Then, 15 minutes later our food finally arrived. Our food tasted good and we were relieved to not find anything wrong with it. However, while eating our dinner we could not help overhearing the table beside us talk poorly about the restaurants service as they also had to wait a long time for their food to arrive.

When the waiter came back to take away our plates we asked him to bring the bill. When the bill arrived we were upset to see that we were overcharged for our drinks that were supposed to have been on special and that we were not given any discount or apology from the waiter or management staff for the inconvenience of waiting over an hour and a half for our food. While we waited for the waiter to fix the overcharging on our drinks we asked him why the food took so long and his response was that they overbooked reservations. We then expressed our concerns with the waiter that we felt greatly inconvenienced by this but the waiter just replied with a “yea, it sucks when these things happen” attitude, which at the time barely justified in our minds as an appropriate response. We then promptly left the restaurant knowing full well that although the food was good it was certainly not worth the wait.

Expectations met:

My expectations for the food were met but I cannot say the same for my service expectations. In an article written by the Performance Research Associates they described a six step service recovery process for delivering knock your socks off service. These steps include, “Apologize, listen and empathize, fix the problem quickly and fairly, offer atonement, keep your promises, and follow up” (Performance Research Associates, 2006, p.133). Since my boyfriend and I felt greatly inconvenienced with the long wait times I felt as though the restaurant did not properly offer atonement, which is some value-added gesture that says, in a manner appropriate to the problem, “I want to make it up to you” (Performance Research Associates, 2006, p.133). It would have been nice to be compensated in some way for waiting so long for our food. Whether it is a complimentary second drink or a discount on our bill, something could have been done to acknowledge the inconvenience to me as a customer. In an article written by Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller, they stated it best when it comes to customer complaints that, “Complaints are gifts customers give to businesses. Everyone will benefit from carefully opening these packages and seeing what is inside” (Barlow & Moller, 2008, p. 22).  This lack of acknowledgement when we complained showed me that when it comes to relationship marketing the business paid little attention to what they could do to keep me as their customer. Their primary goal should be to, “Build and maintain a base of committed customers who are profitable for the organization (Bitner, Gremler, Hiltz, Mahaffey, & Zeithaml, 2007, p. 171). As well, this experience has now severed the ability for me to develop an acquaintance relationship with the company by not satisfying my needs and wants with the service delivery time (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 169).

Level of satisfaction rating: 2 greatly dissatisfied

Reason for this satisfaction rating:

I believe the restaurant should have had a more effective service recovery strategy in place that evening after realizing the mistake made with the reservations being overbooked as, “Customers who experience service failures but who are ultimately satisfied based on recovery efforts by the firm will be more loyal than those whose problems are not resolved (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 198). Because nothing was done to show me that they wanted me to be a returning customer, I gave them a low rating. I also feel that management should have ensured that, “Front-line employees have the skills, authority, and incentives to engage in effective recovery. Effective recovery skills can include hearing the customer’s problems, taking initiative, identifying solutions, improvising, and perhaps bending the rules from time to time (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 213). This would help staff deal with upset customers and encourage them to come back again.

Likelihood I will be a returning customer: 2 probably not

Why I would not return:

I probably would not return to this establishment because I was extremely dissatisfied with the long wait times and the lack of acknowledgement from staff to fix the problem. As well, the textbook states, “Customers will remain loyal to a firm when they receive greater value relative to what they expect from competing firms” (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 171). Because I believe that if I had attended another restaurant that night I may not have had to wait as long for my meal, I do not intend to be loyal and return anytime soon. In addition, because I overheard other customers talk about their similar views with the poor service while in the restaurant I am more inclined to believe that this will happen again for any customer in the near future.

To be a good service organization I would recommend that Romeo’s practices complaint solicitation. By doing so they can correct individual problems where possible and identify common service failure points (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 144). In addition, another effective tool could be posttransaction surveys similar to comment cards, allowing customers of all types –not just dissatisfied ones, to answer a short list of questions about their service encounter immediately following the transactions. “This type of research is simple and can provide management with continuous information about interactions with customers” (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 149).

References:

Barlow, J. & Moller, Claus. (2008). Complaint is a gift: recovering customer loyalty when things go wrong. Second Edition. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/camosun/docDetail.action?docID=10315444

Bitner, M., Gremler, D., Hiltz, B., Mahaffey, T., & Zeithaml, V. (2007). Services marketing. Canadian Edition

Performance Research Associates. (2006). Delivering knock your socks off service. Fourth Edition. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/camosun/docDetail.action?docID=10196169

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Service Encounter Blog #1

Name of service firm: Davids Tea, Victoria BC

Date and time of encounter: May 12, 2012

Chapter (s) service encounter relates to:

  • Chapter 1-Introduction to Services
    • New ways to deliver service (use of technology)
    • Expanded mix of services
    • Onsite customer service
  • Chapter 2-The Gaps Model of Service Quality
    • Knowing what customers expect-(provider gap 1)
    • Delivering customer standards-(provider gap 3)
    • Relationship marketing
  • Chapter 3- Consumer Behaviour in Services
    • Service provision as drama (service actors)

Price of service: $40.00

Description of encounter:

As mother’s day was fast approaching I decided to get my mother some tea. After searching online for stores that sold tea I came across Davids Tea’s website and noticed that they had a large variety of tea packages available on special for mother’s day. I found their website to be a great example of using technology to provide services in a more accessible, convenient, and productive way as I was able to obtain information about their products, services, location, and hours all through their site (Bitner, Gremler, Hiltz, Mahaffey, & Zeithaml, 2007, p. 22). I was also pleased to see the mother’s day packages advertised on their website because I did not want to spend a lot of time looking through a store trying to decide what to buy. In addition, Davids Tea marketed that they were open late till 9pm, which worked with my busy schedule. Given that I had never been to a store that just sells specialty teas I did not really know what to expect, but after viewing Davids Tea’s website my expectations were that I would be able to find an affordable mother’s day gift in a timely manner.

When I first entered Davids Tea I was pleasantly greeted by one of the employees. She asked me how I was doing and if she could help me with anything. Being greeted in such a way gave me a positive first impression of the store, which is significant as people play an important part in the service delivery (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 32). As I usually prefer to look around by myself I had replied to the employee that I was ok for now, to which she replied back that she would be available for any questions I might have. This was a great example of the employee exhibiting onsite customer service (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 15). Upon walking a bit more into the store I noticed the mother’s day tea packages that I had viewed on the website clearly displayed, which helped meet my layout or “servicescape” expectations. It also showed me that they were working towards closing the provider gap 3 (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 45). Even though I found the mother’s day package I was looking for I decided to look around the store a bit more to see what else they offered. During this time, my friend who accompanied me asked one of the employees if they sold a watermelon tea she had heard about. The employee immediately replied they did have it and promptly provided us with a sample of the tea. After about 10 minutes of looking around I decided to buy my mother a tea mug and one of the special mother’s day packages. While I was at the checkout the employee casually asked if the items were for anyone special and I responded that it was for my mother for mother’s day. The employee then complimented me on what I had picked out and gave me a special gift bag with tissue paper to wrap it in. Lastly, I asked the employee what the brewing instructions were for the teas and she was able to show me exactly where they were written inside the tea package I had just purchased and told me to have a great day as I left the store.

Expectations met:

My expectations were definitely met as the customer service at Davids Tea was efficient and friendly and I was able to find an affordable package of some great tasting teas in less than 15 minutes. As well, Davids Tea did a good job of closing the gap between what I was expecting as a customer and what I had ultimately received, which is important when trying to retain repeat service from customers (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 42).

Level of satisfaction rating: 7 extremely satisfied

Reason for this satisfaction rating:

Overall my service experience at Davids Tea made me want to come back again. The store employees or “service actors” were sincere when performing their job duties and showed me that they were committed to delivering great customer service (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 67). Although I did not end up needing any assistance while I was finding a gift for my mother, having the employees vocalize that they would be available if I had any questions was important to me. This showed me that they were concerned about delivering their product/service to me in a caring and friendly way, which is also one of the four predictable factors that can lead to satisfied customers (Inghilleri & Horst, 2010, p. 8). Also, I thought that it was a nice gesture for the employee to provide me with a gift bag and tissue paper and compliment me on my choice for a mother’s day gift. This demonstrated a use of relationship marketing by wanting to build a relationship with me as a customer (Bitner, et. al., 2007, p. 41).

Likelihood I will be a returning customer: 7 definitely yes

Why I would return:

Mostly I would return because of the friendly service I received. One of Wesley Zimmerman’s four eternal laws of sales success states that, “People buy from people they like and trust!” (Zimmerman, 2008, p. 285). This is true for me with Davids Tea because I am confident that I can trust the employees to treat me as a valued customer when I return one day. As well, I appreciated the watermelon tea sample that was given to me by one of the employees as it was very refreshing and tasted delicious. Moreover, I was happy that the items were so easy to find in their store.

References:

Bitner, M., Gremler, D., Hiltz, B., Mahaffey, T., & Zeithaml, V. (2007). Services marketing. Canadian Edition

Inghilleri, L. & Horst, M. (2010). Exceptional service, exceptional profit: the secrets of building a five-star customer service organization. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/camosun/docDetail.action?docID=10382988

Zimmerman, W. (2008). Perception of a difference: the power in buying, marketing and selling customer care. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/camosun/docDetail.action?docID=10229695

 

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