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Friday, April 18, 2014

Feelings of Success Encourage Investors to Engage With Their Investment Firm

By Scott Vanderbilt

This post is part of Gallup's ongoing series on the shifting landscape for financial institutions. It provides insights into channel optimization, emerging customer behaviors and preferences, product penetration and relationship growth, engaging the most critical affluent and business customers, and reshaping banks' overall value proposition.

View more posts >
Many people dream of successful investing and wonder what the “secret sauce” is to turning those investment dollars into a larger rate of return. From the moment they make their first investment, they hope to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with a big yield. But the actual path to achieving that kind of success often seems long and confusing. That’s why investors need an attentive and proactive Relationship Manager (RM) to help guide them in the right direction. 

To achieve that feeling of success, both the investor and the RM must devote time and energy to the investment planning process. Diving down into data from Gallup’s most recent Mass Affluent Investor study, we found that investors’ feelings of success were strongly related to their overall level of engagement with their investment firm. In other words, people who felt that they were successful investors were more likely to be fully engaged with their investment firm, compared with those who did not consider themselves to be successful investors.

This finding suggests that both sides win when the relationship between investors and their investing firm is truly collaborative. If the RM makes a proactive effort to engage the customer, and the customer acknowledges that engagement, then the bond between them is strengthened. In fact, when successful investors believe that their advisor is important to their success, their engagement grows tremendously, further demonstrating the importance of this relationship. And investment firms should pay close attention to the role their RMs play, because engagement often means more business and revenue. To push the point about how important it is -- 93% of successful investors who are fully engaged are unlikely to switch to another investing company. That’s loyalty!

To better engage their customers and make them feel successful, investment firms and RMs should do the following.

  1. Listen to your customers. Relationships thrive on open communication and the investing relationship is no different. What are your customers’ needs? What are their goals for the future, and how can achieving investment success help them on their financial path? These are the kinds of questions that RMs should be able to easily recite. If you haven’t talked to your customers in a while, give them a call. The more engaged and successful investors quoted higher calls (and more proactive calls) between themselves and their RMs.

  2. Make it personal. Communication and financial investment plans that are tailored to individual needs are critical in both understanding your customer’s financial goals and showing them that you are listening. Again, reach out when you have an idea or just want to give them an update. Don’t always wait for them to call you.

  3. Give them the details. Inspire confidence, and show that you know what you are talking about, by providing customers with a plan that explains everything you recommend. Remember to show how the plan relates to them and their financial future. When your customers have knowledge of the financial planning process and the reasoning behind, it can only help your relationship.
As Vince Lombardi wrote, “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied ourselves to the task at hand.” When both the investor and the investing firm devote the time and energy to help the investor succeed, the greater the customer engagement. It is hard work but when both parties apply effort and focus on the task at hand, the more connected the investor is, not only to their financial plan, but also to the firm and RM who helped them get there.

To learn more about how to increase customer engagement and growth, visit Gallup’s Banking Knowledge Center.

Monday, April 14, 2014

How to Spot and Develop Extreme Teaching Talent

By Valerie Calderon, Senior Research Consultant, Gallup Education

Ella came home one fall day from third grade spilling tears. Like generations of third graders before her, she was tripped up by multiplication tables. To help gain confidence and practice her math skills, Ella began visiting with her neighbor and tutor, Ms. O.

Ms. O used games and various methods targeted at the most important concepts Ella needed to learn. She helped Ella feel capable and have a little fun all while learning her times tables. Colorful flashcards and a white board were some of the tools in Ms. O’s toolbox. While these tools were helpful, they were not the game changer for Ella. It was Ms. O herself.

Ms. O possesses unusual talent for helping students learn. She saw problems from Ella’s perspective, calmed her fear of failing, and remained focused on the learning outcome. She persisted through the challenges with a hint of joy because Ms. O had dispelled any lingering doubt in Ella’s mind that she could succeed.

Over three decades of Gallup research reveals teachers with extreme talent for the role possess the following talents:

1. They have a strong drive to see their students achieve their maximum potential. These teachers are relentless pursuers of their students’ achievements. They personally own the success of their students, and they persist through stumbling blocks that threaten to deter their progress.

2. They establish learning environments centered on close relationships. These teachers have a strong belief that relationships are essential for learning. These teachers’ level of care is intense, and it is focused on the best outcomes for students. Their students respond to their care with increased effort and motivation to learn. Such teachers help individuals value one another and each individual’s uniqueness. Those with extreme talent for teaching are able to establish trust, which inspires an engaging, energetic, positive, and even joy-filled learning space.

3. They promote an innovative yet ordered classroom structure. The most talented teachers are likewise able to structure their classroom learning environments in a way that carefully balances freedom with discipline. They invite creativity while never surrendering purposefulness and order. They are prepared for teaching, but flexible enough to respond in the moment to teaching opportunities. Extremely talented teachers are always busy finding new ways to help students discover and learn.

Very few people can consistently demonstrate each of these three qualities of highly effective teachers. But, when schools can increase their proportion of extremely talented teachers, they increase the likelihood that students will be highly engaged and set up for success.

Gallup finds that a small proportion of teacher applicants from its extensive TeacherInsight database possess extreme talent for the role. Finding and identifying highly talented teachers, as early as possible, is a treasure hunt our nation can ill afford to ignore.

We can and must find and develop such teacher treasures -- the ones who can grow up to impact young people just like Ms. O. Right now, children are sitting in elementary school classrooms all over America. They are learning not only multiplication and long division, but also about great teaching. Ella dreams about being a special education teacher one day. She may not recall all of the methods Ms. O used to teach math, and by the time Ella is old enough to teach, the curricula will have been reinvented a dozen times over. However, Ella will remember how Ms. O made her feel about learning.

Extreme talent for teaching -- for connecting with and developing young humans -- is an innate and enduring one, so we must identify teacher treasures early and intentionally. We must search for them, find them, and invest in their talent for developing others. Those young teacher treasures are the children who volunteer to help others, they delight in others’ victories and successes, and they are hard-working friends. When we spot such teaching talent, we must nurture and encourage it, help them to mature, and steer them toward pathways to becoming an effective educator. We must polish those young, talented teacher treasures so they may propel the next generation of students into a future in which they, too, can do what they do best. 

For insights about what leaders can do to improve engagement and student achievement in their schools, read Gallup's State of America's Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education report.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gallup Releases New Insights Into the State of America’s Schools

Students who strongly agree that their school is committed to building students’ strengths and that they have a teacher who makes them excited about the future are almost 30 times as likely to be engaged learners as their peers who strongly disagree with both statements.* However, less than half of students strongly agree that they get to do what they do best every day, and nearly seven in 10 K-12 teachers are not engaged in their work.

These insights are from the State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education report, which Gallup released this week. This new report cites data from numerous surveys, including the largest annual survey of fifth- to 12th-graders in the U.S. and Gallup’s decades-long study of exceptional teachers and principals. It also provides educational leaders with advice on what they can do to improve engagement and student achievement in their schools.

Here are some key findings and insights from this must-read report for educational leaders:
  • Just 33% of the more than 600,000 students who participated in the 2013 Gallup Student Poll scored highly on all three factors linked to success at school and beyond: hope, engagement, and well-being.
  • Less than half of students strongly agree that they get to do what they do best every day, leading to boredom and frustration as their greatest talents go undeveloped.
  • Within the first five years on the job, between 40% and 50% of teachers leave the profession. A lack of autonomy needed to effectively use their talents plays a significant role in teacher turnover rates.
  • Teachers compare favorably to other U.S. workers in agreeing that they are able to do what they do best every day -- but they are last among 12 occupational groups studied when it comes to feeling their opinions count at work.
  • Just 29% of Americans agree that the country’s high school graduates are ready for college, and 17% say graduates are prepared to join the labor force.
  • Many U.S. school districts struggle with a lack of adequate school board leadership; 37% of superintendents strongly agree that their districts are well-governed at the board level.
  • Young adults who say they had frequent opportunities in their last year of school to develop real-world problem-solving skills are about twice as likely as those who disagree to report higher-quality work lives.
For more advice to help teachers, students, and schools succeed, read the State of America’s Schools report and visit Gallup’s Education Knowledge Center.
Follow @GallupEducation on Twitter and join the conversation: #RedesignEDU
*2013 Gallup Student Poll. The annual Gallup Student Poll is offered at no cost to public schools and districts in the United States. The online poll is completed among a convenience sample of schools and districts each fall. Schools participating in the annual Gallup Student Poll are not randomly selected and are neither charged nor given any incentives beyond receipt of school-specific data. Participation rates vary by school.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What Students Need to Be Engaged

By Shane J. Lopez, Gallup Senior Scientist

Logan LaPlante, a Lake Tahoe teen, might be the most engaged student in America. He smiles as he talks about what he’s learning. He looks happy, somewhat giddy even, when he describes his school. Maybe that’s because he’s taught by people who are “stoked to be doing what they’re doing.” While many kids become psychological dropouts during middle school, Logan is becoming more and more excited about learning and life.

If you talk to him about his education or watch his TEDx video, I think you’ll agree that Logan is a poster child for student engagement. However, he is not a product of traditional public schools. When he was nine years old, Logan’s mom cobbled together an educational experience -- a process the LaPlantes call “hackschooling” -- that excited him.

Still, after repeatedly viewing his TEDx talk, I was convinced that neither homeschooling nor hackschooling was the key to his enthusiasm for learning. I theorized that, no matter the school, engagement peaks when students feel valued for what they are good at and are inspired by at least one teacher. That’s the hypothesis I tested using 2013 Gallup Student Poll data from more than 600,000 students who responded to 20 items, including two I thought might determine the height of student engagement:

My school is committed to building the strengths of each student. 
I have at least one teacher who makes me excited about the future.

The students who strongly agreed with those two statements were 30 times more likely to be emotionally engaged at school than students who strongly disagreed with the items.

We all know that student engagement is influenced by innumerable factors largely outside a school’s control. But this finding suggests that there are some fundamental strategies schools can use to dramatically raise the likelihood that students will be emotionally engaged in the classroom on any given day.

To start, providing students with opportunities to discover and develop their talents should be a core practice in all schools. Imagine how engaged students would be if we devoted as much time and energy to students developing their strengths as we do to test preparation.

Many school districts are demonstrating their commitment to building students’ strengths by using tools such as StrengthsExplorer and StrengthsQuest to identify the individual talents of middle and high school students. Other districts, such as Howard County Public Schools in Maryland, want to start earlier in a student’s life. This district trains teachers to spot students’ strengths and help children pick short-term goals and long-term projects that will keep them excited. This focus on strengths-building is possible because these schools start by helping their teachers and administrators do what they do best.

Additionally, every student deserves to be inspired by at least one teacher. In Gallup’s search for the Most Hopeful Teacher in America, we discovered that most schools have at least one teacher who is known for making students excited about the future. These teachers use three strategies:

  1. Care about students and invest in their big future goals.
  2. Aim teaching at their students’ goals for the future to increase the relevance of instruction.
  3. Help students overcome obstacles and teach them how to solve problems on their own.
Forty-five percent of students surveyed through the latest Gallup Student Poll are not engaged in school or are actively disengaged, meaning they are simply going through the motions at best, or actively disrupting teaching and learning at worst. If every kid went to a school committed to building their strengths and each classroom were staffed by a talented teacher who made them excited about the future, poster children for student engagement would be easier to find.

For insights about what leaders can do to improve engagement and student achievement in their schools, read Gallup's State of America's Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education report.

Gallup Student Poll Methodology
Gallup offers its annual Gallup Student Poll at no cost to public schools and districts in the United States. The online poll is completed by a convenience sample of schools and districts each fall. These schools are not given any incentives beyond receipt of school-specific data. Participation rates vary by school. Gallup conducts the poll during a designated survey period and it’s available during school hours Tuesday through Friday only. Gallup administers the Gallup Student Poll to students in grades five through 12. In 2013, 616,203 students in U.S. schools participated in the Gallup Student Poll. The primary application of the Gallup Student Poll is as a measure of non-cognitive metrics that predict student success in academics and other youth development settings.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Banks: To Earn Customer Confidence, Make the Conversation About Their Financial Well-Being

By Beth Youra

This post is part of Gallup's ongoing series on the shifting landscape for financial institutions. It provides insights into channel optimization, emerging customer behaviors and preferences, product penetration and relationship growth, engaging the most critical affluent and business customers, and reshaping banks' overall value proposition.

View more posts >
To anyone who regularly reads the news (or watches “The Daily Show”), it will come as no surprise that Americans’ confidence in banks as an institution is low. Stories of banks’ ineptitude may not be coming out as frequently as they were during the days of TARP, bank failures, bank saving mergers, excessive personal spending by executives, and debit card fee debacles, but the banking industry in general has not done enough to restore its reputation as a whole. Spend 10 minutes perusing any of the more than 23 million links that come up when you Google “banks suck” and it quickly becomes apparent just how much residual ill will there is among the general public toward the banking industry.

That said, as anyone who reads the banking trade press knows, several industry surveys (including our own) have found that customers’ loyalty, engagement, and satisfaction with their own banks has been increasing. And this trend does translate into people having more confidence in their primary bank than in the industry in general.

So what can banks do to change their customers’ perceptions? Using data collected during Gallup’s latest Retail Banking study, we have identified four areas of opportunity for banks to increase customer confidence.

1. When it comes to confidence, channel service is table stakes.
How you serve your customers is hugely important. If they are not having a consistently exceptional experience every time and every place they interact with you, you are not even in the game. Unsurprisingly, the people-based channel -- the branch -- is better at driving confidence than technology-based channels. As we see time and again when we study channels, lack of satisfaction in technology-based channels is more likely to drive a negative outcome than satisfaction is to drive a positive outcome. Just as positive experiences with bank employees in the branch are more likely to drive customer engagement, those experiences are also more likely to inspire confidence. People still like people and trust people more than technology, even if customers are increasingly interacting with technology.

2. Traditional marketing messages are fine, but are not resonating.
 “Lets me bank anywhere, anytime, anyway I want”
“Is an integral part of your community”
“Rewards me for the relationship I have with them”

Variations on these themes are often integral parts of banks’ marketing messages and brand promises. And while they do positively impact the confidence people have in their bank, the majority of customers don’t agree that their bank is delivering on these promises. The highest scoring attribute in this group is “lets me bank anywhere, anytime, anyway I want,” which makes sense in the context of most banks trying to improve the multichannel experience. Yet even that driver only managed a score of 46%. “Rewards me for the relationship I have with them” is the lowest scoring attribute at 31%. While many banks are trying various things to reward customers for their business (particularly in the mass affluent space), most don’t deliver on this in a large way across a large swath of customers.

3. Communication is key.
As we move into the areas that have the strongest impact on confidence in a customer’s primary bank, the importance of communication becomes clear. Customers are more likely to agree that their banks always communicate with them in a clear and upfront manner than they are to agree that banks communicate with them about things that are meaningful. There is still room for improvement in both of these metrics, but the stronger showing in “clear and upfront manner” speaks to the volume of work banks have done over the past couple of years when it comes to simplicity and clarity in customer communications.

4. Customers must feel that you are looking out for their well-being.
What is the key to gaining a customer’s confidence? It’s the bank ensuring that the customer knows the bank is looking out for their financial well-being. All of these other issues, when done well, build customer confidence in their bank. But the emotional elements are the Holy Grail that build to well-being. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating -- finance is personal. Partnering with customers on managing their finances, making them feel confident about their financial future, and taking the lead when necessary helps them believe you are on their side and looking out for their best interests. This manifests itself in customers feeling like you are looking out for their financial well-being, which, in turn, makes you seem more selfless and gives customers the confidence that you are in it for them and not yourself.

Banks have a long way to go in regaining confidence. The war will continue to be fought on two fronts: public relations for confidence in banks as an institution and the creation of a better experience and stronger emotional attachment for retail customers. Generating feelings of financial well-being will go a long way toward restoring confidence, because it ultimately shows that, at the end of the day, it really is all about the customer.

To learn more about how to increase customer engagement and growth, visit Gallup’s Banking Knowledge Center.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Every Channel Matters When Engaging Bank Customers

By Jon Hughes

This post is part of Gallup's ongoing series on the shifting landscape for financial institutions. It provides insights into channel optimization, emerging customer behaviors and preferences, product penetration and relationship growth, engaging the most critical affluent and business customers, and reshaping banks' overall value proposition.

View more posts >
Over the past decade, the lens through which customers view their bank and through which banks view their customers has shifted considerably. What once was a channel-dominant view of the customer (“Suzie uses the branch most often, so let’s make sure her branch experience is stellar.”) shifted to a more complex multichannel view (“Suzie interacts with us across many channels, how can we make the various experiences seamless?”), and then to the current focus on enabling a true omnichannel experience (“We need to engage Suzie positively wherever she is, whenever that is, by whatever communication methods she is using.”).

In reality, most sizable retail banks operate somewhere between the channel-dominant and multichannel arenas, with many back-office and customer-facing functions still housed primarily within specific channel, segment, or product silos. It is within this context that we often get asked, “Which channel is most important in driving customer engagement?” Of course, quite often the real, though unsatisfying, answer is “it depends” -- on the customer, on the product, and on the situation. And if banks truly achieve an omnichannel customer posture, the question itself will become moot. Until then, however, it can be useful for banks to think about how their performance in each channel contributes to their overall customer engagement profile -- both currently and how that might change in the foreseeable future.

Customer engagement is certainly a worthy outcome metric to drive -- fully engaged customers generate significantly more product penetration, revenue, and wallet share than indifferent or actively disengaged customers. Given that resources, time, and focus are limited, knowing which channels generate the greatest impact on customer engagement can help banks prioritize their efforts. Deciphering current overall “impact” involves weighing three factors: 1) how effective a given channel interaction is for customers who use it, 2) how satisfied those customers are with that channel, and 3) how many customers overall use that particular channel. We recently noted how “BRATMO” (branch, ATM, and online) remained the dominant channel usage troika, with nearly half (46%) of customers using that combination in the past six months. The fact that so many customers use those channels gives them a leg up in terms of overall impact on customer engagement. However, based on recent modeling from our 2013 Retail Banking study, it may well be that as customers increasingly interact with their bank through mobile and social channels, these channels will contribute more and more to the bank’s overall level of customer engagement.

Branches Top Net Engagement Driver: As depicted above, when a branch user is “extremely satisfied” with their most recent visit, their probability of being a fully engaged customer increases by 14% compared with a customer who doesn’t use the branch (and also controlling for all of the other channel experiences that customer had with their bank). Conversely, when that branch experience is anything less than extremely satisfying, the customer’s probability of being fully engaged is actually 19% less than those who don’t use the branch at all. When usage (not everyone uses the branch) and actual performance (more positive than negative experiences) are factored in, the final net “lift” in engagement due to positive branch experiences is 7%, while the final net “drag” on engagement due to negative branch experiences is -5% -- meaning that branches are a net positive for engagement across the industry. The overall spread (impact) of 12 percentage points (+7% lift, -5% drag) is also the highest for any channel.

ATM, Online Also Important: When customers are extremely satisfied with their ATM and online banking experiences they are 6-7% more likely to be fully engaged than customers who are not using those channels, while less-than-satisfying experiences prove more costly, reducing the likelihood of full engagement by 13-14%. Because more experiences are positive than negative, the net impact on engagement for both channels is split roughly equally between lift (3-4%) and drag (-3%). While less than the 12-percentage-point overall “spread” impact of branches, ATM and online interactions represent a net impact of 6-7% on engagement -- a strong second to branches.

As Mobile Grows, So Will Impact: Satisfaction with the mobile banking experience does impact the customer’s overall engagement with the bank, although to a lesser degree than most other channels. With fewer users than more established channels, the net effect on engagement is modest -- a lift of 1% among extremely satisfied users and a drag of 1% among those not satisfied with the experience. However, these engagement effects are likely to grow in the future as banks’ mobile offerings become more differentiated in terms of functionality, usability, and financial integration (for example, with payment systems or mobile wallets), and more customers continue to adopt mobile banking.

Facebook Meaningful for Users, Twitter Not Yet on Engagement Radar: Among customers who have communicated with their bank on Facebook, satisfaction with that interaction has a meaningful impact on engagement -- both positive (9% lift) and negative (-13% drag). In fact, among current users, the impact is on par with call centers, online banking, email, and ATMs. Most of this impact gets washed out across the entire customer base, due to the relatively low number of Facebook interactions. As is the case with mobile, to the extent that Facebook interactions between customers and their banks increase over time, the net impact on overall engagement should increase as well. These results suggest an important warning for banks -- merely setting up a Facebook account without working to engage followers with meaningful content and timely feedback will actually erode customer engagement. Twitter, however, appears to be more of a novelty with customers -- there is little impact on engagement, even among those who tweet with their bank.

With the exception of Twitter, all of the channels that we tested in our study have a meaningful impact on customer engagement. When customers have a satisfying experience with the channel, they are more likely to be fully engaged with the bank overall, and when they have a less-than-satisfying experience, they are far less likely to be fully engaged. Higher current usage patterns give the BRATMO channels the greatest net impact on customer engagement, but shifting usage (and potentially satisfaction) patterns in the future are likely to change these engagement dynamics. Banks that lack focus on their mobile and social channels, while seemingly a reasonable strategy from a current usage perspective, do so at their own risk. As more transaction and conversation traffic flows through the mobile handset and is moderated by social networks, we may indeed arrive at an omnichannel world sooner than later. 

To learn more about how to increase customer engagement and growth, visit Gallup’s Banking Knowledge Center.

Monday, March 24, 2014

36 Companies That Set the Standard for Workplace Excellence

By Ed O’Boyle, Global Practice Leader, and Jim Harter, Ph.D., Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being

Gallup research shows that globally, just 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs -- that is to say, they are emotionally invested in, and focused on, creating value for their organizations every day. While the remaining 87% are classified as either not engaged and indifferent, or even worse, actively disengaged and potentially hostile to their organizations. In short, truly engaged workplaces are rare.

Gallup is pleased to honor 36 leading organizations that are recipients of our annual Gallup Great Workplace Award. These organizations average a ratio of 9 engaged employees to 1 actively disengaged employee, which is more than five times the ratio in the U.S. and more than 16 times the ratio for workforces globally.

Leaders of these organizations understand that employee engagement drives real business outcomes and have mastered how to engage their workforces. Each award recipient has linked engagement to business outcomes and integrated engagement into four key areas: Strategy and Leadership, Accountability and Performance, Communication and Knowledge Management, and Development and Ongoing Learning.

These organizations set a high standard for what is possible for the world’s employees, regardless of the economy or culture they operate in. The winners for this year are headquartered in a wide range of countries including the U.S., United Arab Emirates, Singapore, India, and Thailand.

Here is the list of our 2014 Gallup Great Workplace Award Winners:

  • ABC Supply Co., Inc.
  • Adena Health System
  • Adventist Health System
  • Al-Futtaim Automotive Group
  • Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited
  • Bio Ritmo
  • Bon Secours Health System
  • CarMax
  • Charles Schwab
  • Commonwealth Health Corporation
  • Compassion International
  • DBS Bank
  • DTE Energy
  • Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company - du
  • Hawai'i Pacific Health
  • Healthways, Inc.
  • Hendrick Health System
  • Hyatt Hotels Corporation
  • Indus Towers
  • Krungsri Group
  • Lakeland Regional Medical Center
  • LS travel retail, North America
  • Mars, Inc.
  • Mashreq
  • MemorialCare Health System
  • Millard Public Schools
  • Nationwide Insurance
  • PNC
  • Self Regional Healthcare
  • Stryker
  • The Indian Hotels Company Limited
  • Transitions Optical, Inc.
  • USAA
  • Wells Fargo
  • Winegardner & Hammons, Inc.
Every business leader worldwide has a responsibility to raise the bar and truly embrace strategies for engagement, as the leaders and organizations awarded today have. This significant step is not only key to improving business outcomes, but is also vital to achieving sustainable growth for companies, communities, and countries -- and for getting the global economy back on track toward a more prosperous future.

The Gallup Great Workplace Award winners will be honored at the Gallup Spring Summit (May 13-15, 2014), an annual retreat to examine the critical issues affecting the global workplace. This year’s summit will focus on the most important decision leaders make -- who they name manager.

For more information or to register for the Gallup Spring Summit, please visit the summit website or contact

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