Category Archives: Customer Experience

AI Actually Leads to Increased Customer Experience Employment

AI Actually Leads to Increased Customer Experience Employment

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

That title is a bold statement in a world where AI, ChatGPT and other technologies are doing many tasks that employees have typically performed. Sometimes, the technologies perform even better.

Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs economists predicted that generative AI tools could impact 300 million full-time jobs worldwide, which could lead to a significant disruption in the job market. That is a lot of jobs, but it’s important to note that the word used was “disrupt,” not “eliminate.” According to Statista, there are approximately 3.32 billion workers in the world. At first, one might think that 300 million is just 10% of the 3.32 billion workers on the planet, but consider some of these jobs fall under the labor category and won’t be impacted at the level other jobs are.

While it may appear to be doom and gloom for many employees, I have a rosier outlook. I’m not so naïve to think AI won’t eliminate any jobs. Of course, there will be some elimination, but perhaps we should be more focused on the word “displacement” when discussing AI’s impact. If you look at trends in business, it’s very typical that as one product becomes obsolete, another product resurfaces and replaces lost jobs. For example, the vinyl record industry lost out to 8-track tapes, which were eventually replaced by cassette tapes, followed by CDs, which now are being replaced by streaming services. In the music industry, the jobs shifted to new products, or people found similar work in other industries.

As new technologies like AI and ChatGPT increase in capability, employees must be flexible, learn new skills and be willing to go where the jobs are available. One of the big areas of concern is the customer service and support world.

Almost everyone has experienced a digital self-service customer support tool like a chatbot or interactive voice response system. My annual customer experience research found that just 31% of customers prefer using these self-service digital customer support solutions. The phone still continues to be the No. 1 preferred method of communication.

I had the opportunity to collaborate with Capterra on its recent CX survey to understand how companies are investing in technology that drives a better customer experience. The Capterra 2023 CX Investments Survey was conducted in June 2023 to explore CX strategies and investment decisions at U.S. businesses with 5,000 or fewer employees with respondents being decision-makers at the manager level. When we asked about the impact AI has on increasing or decreasing CX staff, here’s what we found:

  • 63% of companies have increased staff.
  • 28% indicate no change.
  • Just 9% of have reduced staff as a result of AI.

With all the hyperbole surrounding the elimination of jobs in the customer support world, only 9% of companies have reduced staff, far from eliminating all staff. In fact, the majority of companies increased staff. What AI and other technologies are doing in the customer support world is taking care of lower-level questions and problems that simply require automated responses, allowing agents to focus on bigger, more complicated issues.

As an example, it was in the 1990s when airlines started selling tickets online. Before that, the only way to purchase a ticket was to call and make a reservation or go to the airport. In just a few years, almost all airlines were going digital. The customer service agents, also known as reservationists, feared for their jobs. While the shift to passengers booking their own tickets reduced the demand for traditional travel and reservation agents, new jobs were created in the airline industry. More employees were needed to manage and maintain online booking platforms and to support passengers with problems or more complicated travel itineraries. Furthermore, the convenience and accessibility of online reservations made air travel more accessible to more people, allowing airlines to expand their operations, and in turn, hire more customer service agents and other employees important to the overall passenger experience.

The airline example is similar to many other industries. Undoubtedly, AI eliminates some jobs, especially those requiring low cognitive skills, but it also creates new jobs due to the need for people to develop, maintain and improve new technologies. And consider that new industries will be discovered and developed because of more advanced technologies. They will need workers.

The point of all this goes back to the title of this article. AI will not eliminate jobs—but it will change the job market. Just as some people see a glass of water as half-full or half-empty, you can decide if AI will create scary or exciting times.

This article was originally published on

Image Credits: Shep Hyken

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Customer Wants and Needs Not the Same

Customer Wants and Needs Not the Same

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Many years ago, I walked into an Ace Hardware store to find a new hinge for a swinging door. When I showed the salesperson my broken hinge, he asked if I was open to a suggestion. He sold me a better hinge that was less expensive. Who could argue with that? I had no idea that years later, I would write about this example in one of my books, Amaze Every Customer Every Time.

After that, I noticed when salespeople were more helpful than “salesy.” And guess what happens when they practice helpful behavior versus typical sales behavior? They make the sale.

Another example of this “helpful” level of service happened at B&H Photo. I had made a list of equipment I would buy to upgrade my studio so I could create better virtual keynote speeches for my clients. I was getting ready to spend more than $20,000 on equipment. The woman helping me asked me several questions and made some suggestions. She said I was overspending and didn’t need all the gear I thought I did. Her recommendations saved me more than $12,000!

The same thing happened at one of my favorite music stores, Eddie’s Guitar, where I’ve purchased some beautiful-sounding guitars over the years. I had my sights on a jazz guitar that I thought was the best for my budget. Nate, the owner, and Granville, the salesperson, said almost in unison, “You don’t want that. What you want is this one.” It was the same price, yet it sounded so much better.

What I love about these examples is that the focus was on selling me the best. Saving money was a nice perk, but even if they suggested higher-priced items, if they could prove it was more about what I needed versus what I thought I needed, I’d buy. They asked the right questions to understand my needs and made the appropriate suggestions for what was in my best interest. Consider what happened:

  1. They were interested. They asked questions to understand what I needed.
  2. They demonstrated expertise that led to appropriate suggestions.
  3. Money was less important than the customer’s long-term happiness. In these examples, the salespeople cared as much – maybe more – about me than the sale. The result, by the way, is that I’ve been back many times to both stores.
  4. Trust was created. When the salespeople proved they were helping more than selling, they won me over. And by the way, selling with service is a great sales strategy!

The result of these experiences is everything I speak and write about. It doesn’t matter if it’s sales, customer support, or anything else in the customer’s journey. Create an experience that makes them say, “I’ll be back!”

Image Credits: Shep Hyken, Pixabay

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The Personal Touch Should Not Be Faked

The Personal Touch Should Not Be Faked

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

One of the most powerful customer service and CX tactics is personalization. We interviewed more than 1,000 consumers for our CX research, and 71% said a personalized experience is important to them. When personalization is used correctly, customers feel as if you recognize them. Using their name, remembering their past purchases, their buying patterns and more can build confidence and trust.

While personalization is nice, it is not required, and if you decide to do it, there are some mistakes you must avoid. For example, if you’ve ever talked to a customer service agent who uses your name repeatedly to the point that it seems disingenuous, the effort to personalize fails. Another example came in the form of an email I recently received from a sales rep. It started out like this:


I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to discuss upgrading your current technology …

Obviously, my name is not “Not Provided.” I could tell the mail-merge field didn’t work. It took about two seconds for me to delete the email.

What made it worse was the next day, I received a phone call from the salesperson who sent the email. He didn’t ask for me by name. He asked for “the person in charge of technology.” So, this guy has my phone number and email address, but can’t get my name? His “personalization” strategy failed. As always, I’m polite to every salesperson who calls, but the conversation and relationship were over in less than a minute.

Shep Hyken Personalization Cartoon

There are some pretty easy ways to create a personalized experience. Here are three of many to consider:

  1. Use the Customer’s Name – As already mentioned, be sure to use it correctly.
  2. Know the Customer’s Buying History – With the right software, you can track what the customer bought, how often and more.
  3. Make Appropriate Recommendations – Knowing your customer’s buying history can give you insights into up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. This isn’t a traditional sales pitch. It’s based on what you know about the customer. And if you know a customer can use something and don’t tell them about it, that is actually bad customer service.

While there are many more ideas, let’s wrap up with this. Personalization is about connecting with your customer. Be sure to do it right, whether it is as simple as using the customer’s name or as sophisticated as using data to understand your customer’s needs. No personalization is better than personalization done wrong.

Image Credits: Shep Hyken, Pexels

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Who is to Blame for Poor Customer Service?

Who is to Blame for Poor Customer Service?

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

The short version of the story is this. At about 9:15 p.m., I pulled into one of my favorite fast-food restaurants. There was one customer ahead of me in the drive-through lane. I assumed he was placing an order. After several minutes, I realized something else was going on. I wasn’t sure what, but the amount of time he spent talking to the person on the other end of the intercom took much longer than it should have. Eventually, he pulled around to get his food. It was now my turn.

I waited for the person to welcome me and ask what I wanted. It never happened. I then pulled around to the drive-through window. The employee inside ignored me. I tapped on the window and she came over and said the restaurant was closed. I asked what time they closed, and she said 11. I mentioned that it was not even 9:30. She shrugged and said, “I’m the only one here, and I’ve decided to close the restaurant.”

A few days later, I was with a high-level executive from a major restaurant chain and told her the story. She said, “It wasn’t the employee’s fault. It was her manager’s fault.”

Poor Customer Experience Cartoon Shep Hyken

The explanation was simple. The manager should never have allowed one employee to run a restaurant that takes a team of people. One, it’s impossible to do everything: taking orders, cooking the food, keeping the restaurant clean and much more. Second, it’s just not safe to have one employee in the store, let alone late in the evening.

At some point, you must trust your employees to do a good job. Yet if they don’t, who is to blame? The employee at the fast-food restaurant was put into a situation and given responsibility beyond her capabilities. Whoever is in charge of hiring must hire the right people who are capable – or have the potential – of handling the job. Whoever is in charge of training must give the employee the skills needed to do the job. Whoever oversees scheduling must make sure the restaurant is appropriately staffed.

Of course, there is more than just hiring, training and staffing, but the point is to not be so quick to blame the employee for a bad customer experience. Assuming the employee is capable, failure is often due to something or someone else.

The story I shared illustrates how failure in customer service is often not the fault of the individual but the system in place. All things considered, the responsibility for customer service success or failure usually lies in the hands of leadership, not the front-line workers.

Image Credits: Shep Hyken, Pexels

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Three Maps to Innovation Success

3 Maps to Innovation Success

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

Several years ago, my now-husband and I were in London. It was his first time in the city but my 4th or 5th so, naturally, I talked a big game about how well I knew the city and how I would be, with the help of our handy tourist map, our tour guide.

Things were going fine until I took the wrong road leading away from Buckingham Palace. I thought we were heading straight to Parliament. We were not. 

After a walk that lasted far longer than it should have, he nervously asked,” We’re lost, aren’t we?”

With wounded pride and astounding stubbornness, I declared, “We’re not lost. I know exactly where we are. It’s just not where we want to be.”

Maps are incredibly useful. Until they’re not.

Innovation literature has more maps than a Rick Steves’ guidebook, and most are quite useful. If they’re used at the right time for the right purposes in the right way by the right people (which is a lot of rights that have to be right).

Here are three of my favorites – 2 classics and a new one that blew my mind

Stakeholder Map:

Stakeholder Map

Avoid getting blind-sided, buttering up the wrong people, or ignoring potential champions

  • What it is: A visual representation of the people, roles, and groups who (1) are involved in and affected by a challenge or system and (2) have the power to affect or are likely to be affected by the proposed solution. Stakeholders can be internal and/or external to the organization
  • Why you need one: To prioritize where and how you spend your time understanding, influencing, communicating, collaborating, persuading, and selling
  • When to create it: At the very beginning of a project and then updating as you learn more
  • How to use it: Interaction Design Foundation explains it simply and concretely:
    • Brainstorm who your internal AND external stakeholders are
    • Prioritize them using an Influence x Interest two-by-two matrix
    • Engage and communicate based on their place in the chart

Journey Map

Customer Journey Map

Spot opportunities to create radical value through incremental innovations

  • What it is: A visual representation of what your customer/consumer/user does, thinks, and feels as they move from awareness of a need/want/JTBD to loyalty to a solution. Journey maps should dig deep into moments where customers currently interact with your organization and highlight opportunities where interaction can and should occur
  • Why you need one: To identify opportunities for innovation by surfacing customer current pain points between your customer and your business (or competitors if your business isn’t there and can/should be)
  • When to create it:
    • Create the basic structure (start and end point) or a hypothesized journey before primary research.
    • During research, work with individual stakeholders to develop their maps using (and adapting) your initial structure.
    • At the end of research and before ideation, synthesize insights into the smallest possible number of maps to use as inspiration for solution brainstorming
  • How to use it: IDEO offers simple instructions and tips based on practical use:
    • Brainstorm who your internal AND external stakeholders are
    • Prioritize them using an Influence x Interest two-by-two matrix
    • Engage and communicate based on their place in the chart

Service Map:

Service Design Blueprint

Make journey maps actionable (and see how your innovation affects your operations)

  • What it is: A visual representation of the people, touchpoints, processes, and technology required/desired both frontstage (what customers see) and backstage (what happens behind the scenes). Similar to process documentation with a special focus on the customer
  • Why you need one: Doing something new (i.e., innovating) often requires changes to internal operations, organizations, and processes, but these changes are often ignored or unexplored until late in the process, potentially slowing or stopping the development and launch of a new solution.
  • When to create it: Draft a baseline current state once you have 50% confidence in the general area or type of solution to be created (e.g., we want to improve the use of digital tools in classrooms, so let’s create a service map for our current digital offerings and operations). Then continually revise and update it as the solution/service develops.
  • How to use it: Interaction Design Foundation offers practical instructions and advice.
    • Identify the service to be blueprinted
    • Identify the customers to be service
    • Examine the customers’ experience of the process (customer journey map)
    • Identify the role and impact of employees, processes, technology, and other operational and organizational factors on the service
    • Link activities together to show a natural flow between frontstage and backstage

What’s your favorite map (innovation or otherwise)?

Image credits: Pixabay, Interaction Design Foundation

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Other Experiences Exist Beyond Customer Experience

Other Experiences Exist Beyond Customer Experience

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

CX is the abbreviation for customer experience. Somehow, someone decided X is a better abbreviation for experience than E is. Regardless, I’ve started seeing the X being used in other ways. For example, there is UX, or user experience, which is the experience the customer has with your products and services. Here are some others that you may have heard of:

  1. EX is to employees as CX is to customers. The employee experience is an important experience to manage. What’s happening on the inside is felt by customers on the outside.
  2. WX stands for web experience. What experience do your customers have with your website? The WX is a very important part of the UX.
  3. DX stands for digital experience. This is what customers experience when they interact with your company online. This could be on a website, on the Internet or with a bot. We must manage the DX if we want our customers to have a good CX.
  4. Shep Hyken CX Jargon Cartoon

    These got my imagination going, and I decided to share a few others that I’ve come up with:

  5. NX is for the nap experience. This is the comfortable place employees might enjoy a short nap during a stressful day.
  6. YX is for the yawn experience. On a scale of one to 10, how likely are customers and employees to yawn during a meeting or presentation?
  7. PX stands for the procrastination experience, in which we rate our frustration when people don’t get things done on time.
  8. RX is currently recognized as the abbreviation for a prescription. It originates from the Latin word “recipe,” meaning “to take,” as in a prescription. But, I’m assigning RX to the restroom experience. When I was looking for office space, I always checked out the restroom to see how well it was maintained. I assumed if they took good care of the restrooms, they would take care of the building.

You get the idea. The X’s—or experiences—in our lives can be labeled. Here’s an assignment for you. What are the different experiences your customers and employees have? Label them. Create an acronym. Have fun with them. And they don’t have to be just two words. Like CXE, which stands for customer experience excuse, the reason someone failed to deliver a good CX.

Once you come up with these abbreviations, don’t use them with your customers unless there is an obvious reason to do so. Using company jargon, acronyms and abbreviations the customer might not understand can be frustrating for them. However, if there is a fun one that, once you explain, will make your customers smile, go ahead and share. You’ll get a smile and your customers will know that you are thinking of them and always looking for ways to improve their eXperience.

Image Credits: Shep Hyken, Pexels

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Customer Service is Never Out of Your Control

Customer Service is Never Out of Your Control

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Last month I was in Las Vegas for a major convention. I stayed at a very nice hotel, and each night I tried to fall and stay asleep. I emphasize the word tried because, unfortunately, there was non-stop, 24-hour-a-day road construction outside the hotel, as the city of Las Vegas is preparing for the Formula One race later this year. All night, there was jackhammering and bulldozing on the streets where the cars will be racing.

Upon checkout, I was asked, “How was your stay?”

I responded, “I love this hotel. It’s too bad about all that noise from the road construction.”

The front desk employee practically cut me off and curtly stated, “It’s out of our control.”

Of course, I knew it wasn’t the hotel’s fault. I didn’t blame them, but she was quick to point that out anyway. I can only imagine how many similar complaints she has heard from numerous guests over the past few weeks and will hear from many more until the project is over. She obviously has become annoyed by hearing the same complaint again and again, and somehow lost empathy or sympathy for her guests.

So how do you communicate something like this, that’s “out of your control?” Here are a few ideas using the hotel as an example:

  1. Respond With Empathy – First, respond to any and every comment about it with sympathy and empathy. Act like you care. You could say something like, “I understand how you feel about the noise. I wish we could do something about it, but the city of Las Vegas is preparing for the big race later this year. I’m sorry this happened.”
  2. Apologize – It may not have been your fault, but that doesn’t mean you can’t say, “I’m sorry this happened,” which is how I ended the empathy statement above.
  3. Be Proactive – If enough guests are complaining about something that is completely out of your control and you know the problem is going to continue, proactively inform them when they check in. You can even put a note in the room to warn them about the problem that really is out of your control.
  4. Come Up With a Solution – This may or may not be possible. In this example, the hotel could offer free earplugs. While it’s not their fault and really is out of their control, they could show a sign of effort to manage the problem, even if it isn’t the perfect solution.

A problem may be out of your control. That’s okay. What’s not okay is to use “It’s out of my control” as an excuse. Instead, see it as an opportunity to show empathy and care for your customers. It’s the words you use and the way you say them that counts.

Image Credits: Shep Hyken, Pexels

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Quick and Easy Way to Help Grow This Community

Quick and Easy Way to Help Grow This Community

As many of you know, this Human-Centered Change & Innovation community is a labor of love to make innovation, transformation and experience insights accessible for the greater good.

Consistent with this mission, recently I have been making a lot of contributions to LinkedIn’s new collaborative article feature, focusing on the Customer Experience topic area.

It would be a HUGE help if you could go to any or all of these ten (10) URL’s and add a reaction to any or all of my contributions to the article:

  1. How can you develop a customer-first mindset?
  2. What’s the secret to building loyal customers in a competitive market?
  3. How do you share your customer journey maps effectively?
  4. How do you share best practices with other customer experience leaders?
  5. How can you make your customer experience stand out?
  6. How do customer personas impact your CX strategy?
  7. How can you balance customer experience with efficiency?
  8. How do you identify and leverage your unique value proposition with customer journey mapping?
  9. What motivates your customer experience team?
  10. How do ensure a seamless customer experience across departments?

First, thank you in advance for adding your reactions/upvotes to my LinkedIn collaborative article contributions.

How will this help grow the community you might ask?

Well, it will assist me in achieving Top Voice status on LinkedIn, which will then help each of my article shares for the community’s contributing authors reach more people – thus growing the community of people reading and contributing articles on the human-centered change, innovation, design and experience topics we all enjoy!

Keep innovating!

How to Make Your Customers Hate You

One Zone at a Time

How to Make Your Customers Hate You

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

My most recent book, Zone to Win, lays out a game plan for digital transformation based on organizing your enterprise around four zones. They are the:

  1. Performance Zone, where you make, sell, and deliver the products and services that constitute your core business.
  2. Productivity Zone, where you host all the cost centers that support the Performance Zone, functions like finance, HR, IT, marketing, legal, customer support, and the like.
  3. Incubation Zone, where you experiment with next-generation technologies to see if and how they might play a role in your future.
  4. Transformation Zone, which you bring into existence on a temporary basis for the sole purpose of driving a digital transformation to completion.

The book uses these four zones to help you understand your own company’s dynamics. In this blog, however, we are going to use them to help you understand your customer’s company dynamics.

Here is the key insight. Customers buy your product to create value in one, and normally only one, zone. Depending on which zone they are seeking to improve, their expectations of you will vary dramatically. So, if you really want to get your customers to hate you, you have to know what zone they are targeting with your product or service.

To start with, if your customer is buying your product for their Productivity Zone, they want it to make them more efficient. Typically, that means taking cost out of their existing operations by automating one or more manual tasks, thereby reducing labor, improving quality, and speeding up cycle time. So, if you want to make this customer hate you, load up your overall offer with lots of extras that require additional training, have features that can confuse or distract end users, and generally just gum up the works. Your product will still do what you said it would do, but with any luck, they won’t save a nickel.

Now, if instead they are buying your product to experiment with in their Incubation Zone, they are looking to do some kind of proof of concept project. Of course, real salespeople never sell proofs of concepts, so continue to insist that they go all in for the full Monty. That way, when they find out they can’t actually do what they were hoping to, you will have still scored a good commission, and they will really hate you.

Moving up in the world, perhaps your customer has bought from you to upgrade their Performance Zone by making their operations more customer-focused. This is serious stuff because you are messing with their core business. What an opportunity! All you have to do is over-promise just a little bit, then put in a few bits that are not quite fully baked, turn the whole implementation over to a partner, and then, if the stars align, you can bring down their whole operation and blame it entirely on someone else. That really does get their dander up.

But if you really want to extract the maximum amount of customer vitriol, the best place to engage is in their Transformation Zone. Here the CEO has gone on record that the company will transform its core business to better compete in the digital era. This is the mother lode. Budget is no object, so soak it to the max. Every bell, whistle, doo-dad, service, product—you name it, load it into the cart. Guarantee a transformational trip to the moon and back. Just make sure that the timeline for the project is two years. That way you will be able to collect and cash your commission check before you have to find other employment.

Of course, if for some reason you actually wanted your customer to like you, I suppose you could reverse these recommendations. But where’s the fun in that?

That’s what I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Pexels

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Meeting Expectations Versus Managing Hope

Meeting Expectations Versus Managing Hope

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

At a recent customer service presentation, the speaker who preceded me said that we must do better than simply meeting our customers’ expectations, and he shared some stories of truly amazing service experiences. Then it was my turn to speak. I didn’t want to contradict him, but I needed the audience to understand that it is impossible to go above and beyond with customers at every interaction. Sometimes meeting expectations is a perfect experience.

In my customer service keynote speeches, I talk about ‘Managing the Moment’. The idea comes from Jan Carlson, and if you’ve been following me, you will recognize this concept. Every interaction customers have with you or your company gives them the opportunity to form an impression. Understanding this simple idea is a good start to developing and/or maintaining your customer service and CX strategy.

I believe you must manage expectations, and if you are even the tiniest bit above average in doing what customers expect, your customers will love you, give you high ratings, and refer you to their colleagues and friends. The key to being successful with this idea is to be consistent. You want customers to say things like, “They always are knowledgeable,” or “They are always so helpful.” The word always followed by something positive, typically an expectation is what you’re going for.

Shep Hyken Expectations Cartoon

So back to the idea of just meeting expectations. Some people confuse expectations with hope. Here’s what I mean by this. If I call someone for help and leave a message, I expect them to call me back, and I hope they will return the call sooner rather than later.

Let’s say I’m called back within an hour. I’m pleasantly surprised because the person met my expectation of the callback and did it in the timeframe I hoped they would – maybe even a little sooner.

Most customers won’t analyze the experience quite this way, but it is exactly what they want – or hope for. They will, however, notice that the call was returned quickly and may say, “Thanks for calling me back so quickly.” The returned call was expected. The comment about “quickly” indicates their expectations were met or slightly exceeded. And if you do that every time, the customer will use the always when they talk about you and describe the experience by saying, “They always call me back quickly.”

Let’s flip this around. I believe most customers hope for a great experience, but not necessarily an over-the-top or above-and-beyond experience. And based on their typical experience with service laggards, they, unfortunately, don’t have high expectations. So, whenever you meet or just ever so slightly exceed what your customers hope for, you’ve created a positive experience that gets them to say, “I’ll be back!”

Image Credits: Shep Hyken

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