This year the inaugural South East Europe Customer Experience Awards take place in Belgrade, Serbia, offering the region a new platform to showcase the very best CX initiatives.
Finalists will compete across 12 categories at the event on May 29, presenting before a panel of expert judges details of their CX strategies.
Among those aiming for awards success is the PRO-MENS Centre, a unique education project based in the city of Niš which offers a teaching programme with a twist – a powerful combination of methodology and psychology helps youngsters undertaking the course to significantly boost brain power, and their confidence along with it.
The centre’s SuanPan Mental Arithmetic course and franchise extracts the highest potential of young students through visual and auditory training and a set of psychological tests and games, which combined makes for an educational stimulation that is changing the lives of those on the receiving end.
Though based on the iconic Chinese abacus counting instrument, the SuanPan course is not merely for boosting the mathematics skills of those who undergo it. The students see improvements in reading comprehension, memory, attention, self-confidence, and overall focus.
Which is lucky for PRO-MENS co-founder Dušica Milosavljevic, who told Customer Experience Magazine that mathematics was far from her favourite subject.
Dušica is a qualified English teacher, with a degree in language and literature – not what you might expect for someone overseeing a course with ‘arithmetic’ in its title.
However, it is her methodology skills that are the basis of SuanPan, combined with the experience of her psychologist sister and SuanPan co-founder, Milica Vukotic Yıldırım.
Together, their expertise has given birth to a radical (radical education theory) new course that is improving the very lives of their students, who range from ages 5 to 14. Now more youngsters than ever before are able to benefit thanks to a franchise programme that aims to spread the SuanPan message right across Serbia and the Balkans.
“We use a mixture of methodology, which is my strong point, and psychology which is the strong point of my sister,” Dušica told Customer Experience Magazine.
“Personally I love languages and working with people. It has always been my dream, and helping children is something which I believe is my calling in life.
“The idea of PRO-MENS was born in 2013, when my sister shared with me a plan to use innovate programmes that she knew would make a huge difference to the lives of children who face issues with attention and mental development.
“At that time I was working in a school, and Milica knew that my methodology skills could help bring this vision to life. I personally had never been a huge fan of maths, but my sister explained the concept to me. She was working on a team developing different programmes in Turkey, and they were ready to support us in getting this initiative in Serbia off the ground.”
Through hard work and sheer passion, the PRO-MENS Education and Development Centre opened and the sisters and teammates began piloting the SuanPan course.
“We started and the results were great. We have measured each and every step with each and every child with all the psychological mechanisms available to us. Together, we have created a package that gives full and transparent results in the development of children aged 5 to 14.”
Such was the success of the PRO-MENS centre and the SuanPan course that Dušica was able to commit to the project full-time. This meant giving up her job as a school teacher.
“Here it is considered a little strange to quit a job that is so stable, such as teaching,” explained Dušica
“Many people have the same job until they retire, so it was a risk. However, I knew this was a challenge worth taking. SuanPan is a programme that doesn’t just ‘teach’ children – it empowers them. We are essentially offering education for life!
“That development and empowerment component is very important to us.”
SuanPan participants are strictly measured, while the results can be demonstrated in a clear and concise way for both pupils and parents.
“We are trying to make people’s lives better and show that it’s never too late to improve,” Dušica continued.
“Working on cognitive abilities helps improve overall quality of life. After all, our brain is the mightiest machine we have at our disposal, and we need to teach children how best to use it.
“It’s an incredible feeling when you hear people thank us. Parents tell us we have helped improve the lives of their children, and we tell them that working with their children is a privilege – children are an endless source of positive energy for us, that inspires us to achieve more.
“Making a difference in a young soul’s life as an educator is incredible, and when we see this happen, it makes us feel unstoppable. Their triumph is our triumph.”
This year’s South East Europe Customer Experience Awards offer Dušica, Milica, and their small but dedicated team the chance to share their success and show how their customer’s lives are changing for the better.
PRO-MENS will be contesting three categories: Customers at the Heart of Everything, Digital Customer Experience, and Team of the Year.
“Of course, it would be amazing to win, but we aren’t entering the awards simply to attend a glamorous event – this is an opportunity to share our story – to let even more people know what we do, and how we do it,” Dušica adds.
“We have a long way to go on our journey, but I have managed to find a new purpose in life with this, and want to see us go to the next level.
“We will do this thanks to our incredible team at PRO-MENS. Of course, I work with my sister, but the entire team is like a family. Teamwork is key to our continued success, and we hope to show all this and more when we present before the judging panel.”
The deadline for entries to the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards is Friday February 7. Click here for more details.