Category Archives: Customer Experience

Please Hold. Your Call Is Very Unimportant to Us

Lying isn’t cheap. Ask former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell. Dominion Voting Machines filed a lawsuit against her for $1.3 billion – with a “b” – for defamation.

“Acting in concert with allies and media outlets that were determined to promote a false preconceived narrative about the 2020 election, Powell launched a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion that reached millions of people and caused enormous harm to Dominion,” according to a company statement. Included among the allegations were Powell’s claims that Dominion was created in Venezuela to rig elections for its late president, Hugo Chavez, and that the company bribed officials in Georgia to secure a no-bid contract. Based on those accusations, Dominion’s sales forecast for 2021 just got cloudier.

I’m reminded of the lyrics to Althea by the Grateful Dead:

Play loose with the truth/

Maybe it’s your fire/

Baby I hope you don’t get burned

 

I suspect Powell has already contacted bankers in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands for financial advice.

If you buy into the proclamation that “buyers are better informed than ever in history,” you might think Powell doesn’t need to hide her money. “Informed buyers” aren’t gullible, so how could her far-fetched claims convince them that the company is corrupt? Yet, every day, consumers prove that their acclaimed informational omnipotence is only a myth.

Importantly, “Informed buyer” hype ignores a modern reality: misinformation swirls as abundantly as credible information. So while today’s buyers might be more informed than ever, they’re more misinformed than ever, too.

People like Powell can assert whatever they want and broadcast it online. The earth is flat. Voting machines were hacked. Pizza Restaurant Comet Ping Pong is actually a child sex trafficking operation.

Advertisers: if you’ve got a bogus claim, you can spread it online. Someone will believe it. Gah-ron-teed!

And it’s not getting any better. The mob attack at the US Capitol on January 7th reminds us how misinformation quenches our boundless thirst for self-deception.

The more we experience misinformation, the more inured we become. Even in customer support calls, we’re routinely confronted with three lies, gallingly replayed in a loop throughout our hold time:

  1. “Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.”
  2. “We are experiencing an unusually high volume of calls.”
  3. “Your call is very important to us.”

Me? I’ve become jaded. I tune out all of these statements, and give little thought to the mendacity.

Some companies have never changed their menu options, but that doesn’t stop them from bombastically admonishing callers to listen, as you would a petulant or obstreperous child.

And no matter which company I call, or when I call them, I’m informed by recorded message that they’re “experiencing an unusually high volume of calls.” A flamboyant contradiction. That this information is imparted on each call any time of day, any day of the week, and any week of the month informs customers that the volume of calls is not unusual, but in fact, quite normal. It just sounds better than admitting “we suck at planning.”

The greatest prevarication is the sentiment, “your call is very important to us,” delivered by recording. What could be more ironic? I’m in queue waiting for my call to be handled – hopefully, competently and expediently – while being endlessly reminded by a recording how important I am.

None of this comports with honest intent, but we press on. Lying and misinformation have become embedded in our daily experience, creating a fecund environment for exploitation. And I’m certain that Sidney Powell and other like-minded people could not be more delighted that others are vulnerable to their agendas.

What happened to the corporate values of honesty and transparency that companies have committed to their stakeholders, and pedaled through their marketing outreach? On support calls, if organizations were true to their word, we’d hear “Your expected wait time is 48 minutes. You can continue to hold, or you can simply hang up! We don’t care. Your call is very unimportant to us.”

At least we’d know where we stand.

Five Elements that Create Service Stress for Customers

Despite rigorous measurements and sentiment analysis, the number of bad customer experiences that occur every second isn’t known. How many living trees currently populate our planet? We should know these things. For now, I’ll speculate that they are both large numbers, and one is escalating while the other is declining. You know which is which.

Instead, I’ll explore more scrutable questions. Poor customer experiences occur in every industry. Why do some create nary a ruffled feather, while others cause everyone to go bat-poop crazy? Dr. Dao knows what I’m talking about. Is there a “perfect storm” of conditions where a weak spark of customer letdown will ignite an inferno of pain and outrage? Finally, how much repeat vendor ineptitude, crassness, inefficiency and apathy will consumers accept before saying “enough!”

The answers impact the profits for every organization across every industry. Customer service delivery carries uncertainty and risk. Some issues are cheap to mitigate. Clear directional signage for airport car rental return areas are inexpensive but avert headaches for harried travelers arriving late to catch a flight. Others are costly. Rapid product delivery involves capital investment for sophisticated logistics and IT infrastructure.

“Customers expect perfection every time.”  That admonishment has been beaten into our heads for so long, we’ve forgotten to question whether satisfying this alleged truth really matters. We need balance. How about, “don’t waste the company’s money on projects that don’t bring meaningful improvements.”

Not every business can address every CX risk. Fortunately, not every business needs to. Some CX outcomes can be plain-old good, and that’s good enough. I offered to send this article to my trash hauler, but the service manager politely declined. Seems he was busy planning the company’s annual golf outing coming up in May. That was fine with me. I just told him to just make sure he continues to collect my refuse around once a week.

Does this mean that some companies get a pass for providing impeccable customer service, while others are firmly on the hook?

Yes.

There are situations when underserved customers are especially prone to getting wigged out. Companies that understand what they are can avoid squandering resources fixing things that don’t need fixing, and they’re more likely to improve what’s consequential. According to a 2015 Harvard Business Review Article, When the Customer is Stressed by Leonard Berry, Scott Davis, and Jody Wilmet, there are five conditions that portend high levels of customer stress.

Customer stress is elevated when customers face

  • lack of familiarity with the service being delivered
  • lack of control over the performance of the service
  • major consequences if things go wrong
  • complexity that makes the service a black box and gives its provider the upper hand
  • long duration across a series of events

After the authors gleaned these findings, they applied them in the most difficult and demanding context: service delivery for cancer treatment centers. I’ll survive my missed trash pickup. Safety pins can replace dress shirt buttons that my dry cleaner ruins. I’m not offended if the grocery cashier fails to make eye contact, or to thank me for my business. But every cancer patient faces life-changing consequences. Every interaction matters. Adopting a strong customer service ethos and CX risk mitigation is crucial for these organizations.

“The [Bellin] cancer center, which opened in 2008, surpassed its five-year growth and revenue targets in just two years, and nearly 100% of patients (who are regularly surveyed) say they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend its medical and radiation oncology services. Bellin achieved these results in large part by following the four guidelines for succeeding in highly emotional contexts,” according to the article.

The guidelines extend to any service operation that meet the stress conditions:

  1. Identify emotional triggers. The authors suggest using surveys, interviews, focus groups, controlled experiments, and experience mapping. “Open-ended prompts about common frustrations can be particularly revealing: “Describe the worst experience that you or a family member ever had when using this type of service.” “If you were the CEO of this organization for a day and could make just one improvement for customers, what would it be?”
  2. Respond Early to Intense Emotions. That includes preparing customers for what to expect in the sequence of events, and communicating with care. “A valuable exercise is to convene top providers and ask them to identify phrases that needlessly undermine customers’ self-esteem, confidence, or hope. These ‘never phrases’ can be incorporated into training sessions for the purpose of eliminating them.”
  3. Enhance Customer Control. Many companies overlook this important tactic. Post-service call, many customers feel abandoned (except for the instantaneous How did we do? survey). The authors suggest mitigating the problem by offering a mobile application to consolidate content for ancillary service and support needs.
  4. Hire the Right People and Prepare Them for the Role. My most memorable support calls were with agents who were also users of the same product or service. “People who deliver high-emotion services must be able to effectively cope with stress, respectfully communicate with customers, and strengthen customers’ confidence. Thus excellent service organizations view the process of hiring and training employees as crucial to serving customers well.”

Pursuing excellence in service delivery is a potentially worthy goal. But delivering it matters more for some companies than for others.

Hiring Sales Talent? Seek These Three Essential Skills

As a strategist, I look for performance gaps. They are often concealed within operating statistics, and can require sleuthing to flush out.  For me, an adrenaline rush comes from finding a subtle gem and elevating it to the conference room white board. “Strategic priorities for this quarter . . .” By now, you can tell that I don’t attract large crowds at parties.

I like big gaps because sometimes, they can be fixed cheaply, offering a satisfying bang for the buck. “Your problem, Carolyn, is right here, hiding in plain sight.” My clients return a hearty thank you, consistently followed by “we can address this without changing the budget!” Indeed.

Competency misalignments crop up regularly. To achieve revenue targets, sales organizations need one set of skills, but when the specifications get to Human Resources, things have already gotten lost in translation. Odd scenarios unfold. Even when job seekers have excellent sales skills, the company passes them up because the candidate didn’t satisfy HR’s check boxes.  Or, the candidate presents strong sales competencies, but the interviewer doesn’t know how to recognize them. Without dazzling a hiring manager, could a sales candidate be the next Billy Mays ? Or more commonly today, could sales talent knock at a company’s door without tripping a resume algorithm’s cold, hard decision boxes? Absa-tively. It happens every day.

Here’s an example from a posting I found today for a software sales representative. (I purposely omitted the company’s name):

1) Minimum 5+ years of successful software sales experience
2) Experience in consultative selling
3) Experience in lead role of a team-selling environment
4) Ability to uncover and identify new business opportunities
5) Excellent communication, organizational and interpersonal skills

To assist a candidate’s self-selection for applying, this company gives five low-level requirements. Millions of people have experience doing things. I have experience golfing, but I’m not a good golfer. That doesn’t stop me from checking the Experience box. Does successful mean the candidate achieved quota every year, or just sold something a handful of times? Only Ability to uncover and identify new business opportunities affords the interviewer an opportunity to ask for meaningful demonstrations of skill, along with assessing how the candidate approaches these two challenges. And none of these items are concerned with past client outcomes. That’s pretty typical. It’s all about revenue, and not whether there was a satisfied buyer who paid for the product or service.

And executives wonder why their customers are perpetually dissatisfied with their buying experiences, and express disdain over their interactions with salespeople.

Toiling over sales hiring specifications is a fool’s errand, with little value other than keeping HR staff busy writing requirements. Excellent communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills are table stakes for any sales candidate. For anyone lacking these skills, who would have the temerity to apply?

My proposal is to dump all the picayune sales rep “must have’s”, and focus on discovering three self-reinforcing skills in sales candidates:

  1. Gain rapport and trust. B2B, B2C, high-tech, low-tech, or no-tech – every salesperson must be able to establish rapport with a prospect and gain trust, or nothing else can happen.
  2. Qualify opportunities. A salesperson able to qualify opportunities throughout the buying process has a much stronger chance of making quota than one who doesn’t. What about a person who has marginal qualification skills, but makes goal anyway? I attribute that to a quota that was to low to begin with – or to luck.
  3. Guide buying transactions through completion – and beyond. In an earlier time, I’d say solid closer. Now, I grumble at that expression, because as a customer, I don’t like being closed. A salesperson can only be effective when he or she knows how to guide prospects to outcomes that are mutually beneficial for buyer and seller. Long term, the sale doesn’t matter if the buyer doesn’t benefit.

That’s it: three must have’s. The rest – years of experience, industry knowledge, team selling, consultative selling, what have you – is simply icing on the cake. These skills depend in part on innate abilities, and they require constant attention to hone and perfect. Include them in every hiring requisition. And challenge job candidates to back up their claims of competency with past examples, and to provide explanations about how they have developed these skills. This will help you find right talent. The rest can be taught on the job.

Nike and Kaepernick: Oh Baby, Show Me The Money

I’ve often wondered why companies hammer sharp social stakes into the ground. Ben and Jerry’s. Hobby Lobby. Chick-fil-a. Lately, Levi’s – my jeans brand – has advocated for gun restrictions. Gasp!

Ardently promoting a social agenda is antithetical to what I’ve learned about marketing. Don’t alienate people with disposable income or investment capital. Better yet, don’t alienate anyone! Just sell. As one sales rep told me, “if there was a society for people with six toes, I’d join it to mine for prospects.” A man after my own heart.

In over 40 years as a marketeer, I’ve yet to work with an organization that has purposefully promoted social values to its prospects and customers. It’s easy to understand the rationale for remaining scrupulously agnostic: when a customer intends to buy, make it easy for them. Don’t screw things up by injecting politics and personal morals into the mix. Buyers and sellers, let’s just coexist as one big, happy egalitarian value chain. Sunshine, puppy dogs, and daisies. Sometimes, when business is left alone, things do work out for the best for society. Sigh . . .

Back to reality. Social values do influence a vendor’s marketing actions, and when that happens, it can be alarming. Bakeries that turn away gay customers. Restaurants that refuse to serve unpopular political appointees. And Nike featuring Colin Kaepernick in its ads. These events shake our assumptions to the core. How does this happen? Enterprises that eschew revenue uber alle? Criminy! What’s next? Selling without trust? Maybe things are changing faster than ever.

For marketers, the main story isn’t whether Nike endorses Kaepernick’s free speech rights. This is about how to use risk as a competitive weapon. Take notes, because succeed or fail, we’re about to benefit from a powerful lesson. Although Kaepernick is a polarizing personality who doesn’t play for an NFL team, he’s among the most recognizable sports personalities on the planet. For marketers, that alone makes him tantalizing to incorporate into a campaign. Not surprisingly, Nike was not the only company to find Kaepernick attractive for its advertising. Earlier this year, Puma and Adidas dabbled with the idea. But Nike jumped on the opportunity. A deft move. Nike has never been a company that looks a gift horse in the mouth. And it showed up when Kaepernick became the centerpiece of a mounting protest that had both controversy and appeal.

Nike’s choice to use Kaepernick speaks volumes about their brand promise, the customers they want to reach, and their strategy for revenue growth. To use a trite sports metaphor, it’s called “skate to where the puck will be.”

And where the puck will be is spelled m-i-l-l-e-n-n-i-a-l. By 2019, Millennials, Americans between 22 and 37 years old, are projected to become the largest US demographic, surpassing my generation, baby boomers. And – fun fact– 44% of Millennials are non-white. Post-Millennial, the non-white ratio increases to 48% and post-post Millennial (kids who are currently under 10 years old), it’s 50%. You don’t have to be a math whiz to extrapolate the trendline. And you don’t need to be a social scientist to project which brand attributes future buyers will value. If I were in Nike’s executive suite, I’d bet on Kaepernick, too. And believe me, I’m no willy-nilly risk taker.

Millennials are “very different than earlier generations,” according to demographer William Frey, author of Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America.  As sports columnist Sally Jenkins wrote in The Washington Post (Nike Knows What the Future Looks Like, September 5, 2018), “They are more prone to interracial marrying, friendlier to immigration and often want their consumption to have a social component. If Nike is willing to offend its graying buyers in order to court these multiple generations with a racial justice campaign, ‘it’s a good bet that a lot of younger people will be attracted and go along with that,’ Frey said.” Yepper.  56% of Millennials said they found the Kaepernick’s anthem-kneeling protest appropriate. Someone needs to figure out how to parlay that into revenue . . .

Nike is betting that younger, active buyers will also continue to buy lots of athletic shoes and athletic wear, and with Kaepernick tied to the brand, they have given them greater reason to identify with Nike. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that Nike’s NFL contract will propel that distinctive swoosh logo onto millions of viewing screens this fall.  I picture commissioner Roger Goodell slamming his head against the wall as I type this. Woulda, coulda, shoulda . . . I think you did this to yourself, pal.

With Kaepernick, Nike has alienated older buyers and Republicans, who overwhelmingly find his anthem protests objectionable (only 10% of Republicans approved, according to a Wall Street Journal article, Nike Faces Kaepernick Backlash). No doubt many of them have already torched their shoes at the end of their driveways. But Nike has clearly set its sights on high-use consumers: Millennials who grind through athletic footwear like popcorn, by skateboarding, running marathons, or walking to an Uber pickup spot after the concert downtown. They’re less interested in appealing to my fellow boomers who spring for a shiny pair of white sneakers to wear on the cruise, or to walk the ultra-smooth sanitized floors at the mall. Those shoes will look pristine forever. Yawn.

Nike, which coined, Just do it, knows its customers desire more than shoes and apparel. They want inspiration, which is already embedded in the brand. And the company’s big hairy audacious bet is that a sizable chunk of the world’s population will align with Colin Kaepernick for his resolve to take an unpopular, but principled stance. That’s an American theme, shared globally. The bet carries risk, but it’s an intelligent choice. I predict that Nike will weather the backlash and reap financial rewards. Not every company has the backbone, brand equity and financial capacity to sustain the problems, and I have no doubt the depth of Nike’s risk capacity played a role in the company’s decision concerning Kaepernick. Assuming Nike wins, their campaign will inform marketers that risk isn’t something to tremble about. When used strategically with proper intelligence, it can become a powerful competitive weapon.

Fandango’s VIP Club Inspires No Loyalty

I don’t usually blog about my bad buying experiences, but occasionally there’s a debacle that oozes horrible from every pore. When that happens, I take it as a civic duty to write about it. It’s a way to help others avoid the folly I’m about to describe.

This incident started last Saturday when I asked my octogenarian mother to accompany me to dinner and a movie that evening. We agreed on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. I went online to select a showtime and seats.

I was presented four purchase options. One was to buy directly through the theater’s website, and the other three were through different ticket services. The theater’s webpage loaded slowly, so I bailed and clicked on a link to a ticket broker called Fandango, a service I had never used. The Fandango page popped right up, and I quickly selected two adjacent seats. My mom and I would go to the 7:40 pm screening, which allowed a leisurely 6 pm dinner, and an unhurried amble around the block to the theater. Perfect for mom!

But not long after I completed the ticket transaction, it began to snow. A lot. Then, right on cue, my cell phone rang. It was Mom. “Hi Dear. It’s really a mess out there. I’d rather you not drive over,” she said. “Let’s do this tomorrow.” Her tone of voice imparted that any protest would be futile.

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll swap the tickets. We’ll go Sunday.”

“Call the theater and tell them your mother doesn’t want to venture out in the snow,” she helpfully suggested, adding, “They’ll understand.” Awwwww! How adorably pre-internet!

“Well Mom, it’s like this, I bought these online through a ticket bro . . . .” I cut myself off in mid-sentence. My mother does not use the Internet or email, so my e-commerce explanations have always ended with her changing the subject to something less baffling. I pivoted to a simpler, more dependable assurance: “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.”

After I hung up, I armed myself with my newly-minted Fandango confirmation number and pulled up the Fandango website. I navigated to the section for refunds and exchanges, and populated the requisite fields. Although I’m not a chat fan, that was my only option for interaction. I clicked Submit.

Immediately, Fandango returned a little informational box that showed I was #82 in the service queue, and the expected wait time for chatting with a chat-person was fifty-seven minutes. Fifty-freaking-seven minutes! For a ticket exchange. Fortunately, the box dynamically updated my position in the queue, which meant I could do other tasks while I endured the inconvenience.

The queue melted slowly. 78 . . . 66 . . .61. I felt like the 50’s and 40’s went on interminably, but still, I hung in there. When my position nudged south of 40, I felt encouraged. Over halfway there . . . Can’t be long now . . . 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . It’s happening! Finally, #1! Yes, there is a God! But please – this would be a terrible time for a power failure, or for my router to spontaneously reboot. Relief. Then . . . It happened. The Fandango chat-person I had waited almost one hour to chat with burst onto my screen, like a long-lost friend. “Hi. I’m Chelsea.”

I explained my issue by typing, “I purchased one adult and one senior ticket for tonight’s 7:40 show of Three Billboards at AMC Shirlington, and now it’s snowing in Virginia, and the senior doesn’t want to go out in the snow. Can I exchange my tickets for tomorrow?” Chelsea replied by asking me to be patient while she “investigated.” Investigated? This didn’t bode well.

A few minutes went by, and with her investigation apparently completed, Chelsea responded that I could have a refund, but Fandango requires that I enroll in their VIP Club to process the transaction.

“You’re kidding, right?” I typed, concealing the magnitude of my dismay. Had I used all caps and followed my question with six exclamation marks, Chelsea would have had a more accurate impression.

“No, I’m not,” Chelsea retorted. It was the most meaningful clue I had indicating she wasn’t a chatbot. But her response was wrapped inside bloated Fandango policy mumbo-jumbo that I was too angry to parse. Over an hour had transpired since I initiated my exchange request, and Fandango was browbeating me into joining their VIP club. That seemed wrong. Here I was having a terrible experience, and Fandango wanted me to sign up for . . . their VIP Club?  Damn the ticket exchange! Joining the VIP Club for the sole purpose of exchanging my ticket would send Fandango the wrong message.

As you probably guessed, my chat session with Chelsea did not end on an upbeat note. I’ll just say that if she had any confusion regarding my opinion about the exchange policy, it’s because she stopped reading her screen.

At this point, I became wistful about my mother’s quaint suggestion to call the theater to facilitate the exchange. It reminded me that in many ways, online commerce has not lived up to its promise. Contrary to what pundits often assert, it certainly hasn’t “put the customer in charge.” Far from it. This vignette underscores how, for consumers, the most banal transactions have become unbearably complicated.

Pre-Internet, a moviegoer tendered payment to a cashier at the theater’s ticket window, a machine would spit a generic paper ticket, and an usher would rip the ticket in half when the patron entered the theater. The experience was pretty easy for customers, but cumbersome and labor-intensive for theaters. But the bigger pain for theater operators was their dearth of information. Which consumers went to which movies? How often? What were their demographics? Who did they go with? What were their buying proclivities? They knew very little, and what they did know required expensive and time-consuming research.

Today, information power has swung all the way to theater operators and their channel partners, where it’s likely to stick. Every activity involved in a customer’s movie journey is tracked, measured, archived, and data-mined. And in Fandango’s case, contrivances such as VIP Club membership as a vehicle for ticket exchanges have been established to fatten their information power even further. The ancillary systems driving an online ticket transaction in 2018 are so deep and expansive that it would take hours to figure out how it all works, and even longer to understand where the data goes. Sure – it’s sophisticated, but from the customer’s point of view, it’s hard to think of what I have described as progress. “Your position in the queue is now . . . 82. Please be patient while we investigate . . .”

I don’t blame bad customer experience on technology. I blame it on the executives who misuse it. When that happens, you get Fandango, hour-long service queues, unresolved transaction problems, the coldness and anonymity of online chat, and weird demands to join a VIP Club that you have no interest whatsoever in joining.

My resistance to joining Fandango’s VIP Club emanates from a widespread marketing practice euphemistically called engagement, and marketers delude themselves into believing that customers find it appealing. Many routine activities that consumers do online uncork a torrent of follow-on stuff from vendors, including post-purchase satisfaction surveys, confirmations, confirmations of confirmations, reminders , promotions, deals, newsletters, thank you correspondence, updates, and gratuitous advertising. All from the one-off car rental I made with Budget when I travelled to Chicago in 2017, or the pair of comedy club tickets I purchased from Ticketmaster. Extinguishing outreach from these vendors and their “partners” compares to scraping a wad of chewing gum off my shoes – you never quite get rid of it. “What part of unsubscribe don’t you understand?” Little wonder that I cringed when Chelsea delivered her membership ultimatum.

Back to Fandango and their VIP Club coercion. I have a question for marketers to ponder: if a person bolts from your company after completing just one transaction, and he shrilly Tweets to four gazillion followers that he’ll never buy from you again, is that churn? Or, does the scenario merit a category unto itself?

Fandango, if you’re listening, some lessons for your next strategy meeting from this permanently alienated one-time customer: 

  1. If your business model adds friction to the most basic transactions, tweak your model.
  1. Develop scenarios for the most common service transactions – say, a ticket exchange. Then figure out how to blow your customer’s socks off with how easy it is to accomplish through your service.
  1. Sell your new customers (you know who they are!) on your VIP Club by first delighting the daylights out of them (see #2). From there, your VIP Club membership sales pitch will sing, and conversions will soar!
  1. Integrate your ticket exchange process to an open-source weather or road condition app. A tiny bit of BI (Business Intelligence) would have tipped off your service software that the reason I contacted Fandango was to reschedule a movie reservation.
  1. Accept that not every person who purchases through Fandango wants a relationship with your company. Some just want to purchase a movie ticket. Shouldn’t you design a way to make that happen profitably?

There’s little doubt that information technology enables better outcomes for both customers and businesses. Like with any technology, as some problems are solved, new ones are created. Pre-Internet, our professional watchword was “give customers what they want!” IT has encouraged a mutation of that ideal: “give customers what we want them to want.” In that regard, Fandango has made their intentions abundantly clear through their ticket exchange policy.

A post-script: The weather cleared up, and my mom and I saw Three Billboards the following night. I thought the movie was OK, though not great. But my mom and I had a wonderful time together.