Don’t Believe Me

You can’t help but be aware that not everything you read on the internet or via social media is true. Shocking, I know. We are living in a time when there are people and organizations actively putting our false information. The cynics among you will say that marketers have been doing that for years and there is some truth in that. But this is different.

I think when we read product ads or other materials labeled as advertising or advertorial or paid sponsorship, a little “be wary” alarm goes off. I recognize, having been fooled myself on more than one occasion, that not all of those paid for materials are immediately obvious as ads, but most are. If you look closely enough, even the social media usual suspects make it fairly clear when content is actually advertising. Not so propaganda.

You might be familiar with the studies showing that a huge percentage of people don’t actually read the things they like or repost. There are problems with that, the biggest of which is that you’ve added social proof to something that might actually be a complete lie. I had a friend the other day who posted a story that had a headline that was different from what the article actually said (thanks, editor who wrote the headline). I asked her in a comment if she had actually read the article, which was taken down shortly thereafter since it didn’t exactly match her world view.

It’s going to get worse over the next 60 days as we get to an election. Just as in 2016, there are disinformation campaigns being waged. I don’t mean the obvious ones you see on TV which are paid for by special interest groups. The stories have been coming for months and today’s headline that “Russians Again Targeting Americans With Disinformation, Facebook and Twitter Say” is not going to stop anyone because these bad actors got caught.

What can you do? Check everything you read against multiple sources. Be skeptical. Don’t believe me or anyone else until you find proof of what you’re reading with your own eyes. Don’t even believe your eyes when it’s video since it’s way to easy to fake videos these days. Go to legitimate fact-checkers – Snopes, PolitiFact, and others.

I’m not being political here (we don’t do that in this space). I’m begging you to make up your own mind based on as much accurate information as you can find. Don’t repost stuff you haven’t read and checked out. Don’t believe what others post until you do. Not even from me, OK?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?, Reality checks

Turned Around Tacos

A little reminder this Foodie Friday. I called one of my favorite taco places last night to place an order that I’d pick up. I ended up hanging up the phone without placing the order and the reason why I did so should be instructive for anyone who has customers (and what business doesn’t?).

The place we were ordering from serves very authentic tacos and other Mexican dishes. One of these is a torta – a sandwich – called a Toluquena. While there are minor variations on it depending on the place, it’s a pretty common menu item and I wanted one. I was also trying to get a plate of cheese enchiladas and a “wet” burrito. All of these things were on the restaurant’s menu.

A woman answered the phone. It took a few tries to get her to understand that I would come to pick up the food but once we had that squared away, I asked for the first item: the Toluquena. She didn’t understand. She asked if I meant a Tampiquena, which is a common steak dish but not what I wanted. “No, una torta – a sandwich.” A Tampiquena sandwich? No, a Toluquena. The next couple of minutes involved her getting the menu and pointing out to her where it was. It was sort of a sandwich “Who’s On First” routine.

We moved on to the enchiladas. Cheese enchiladas. “With chicken?” No, just cheese. “Chicken enchiladas?” Let’s try Spanish – “no, no carne, no pollo. Solamente queso.” She said she needed to go check, at which point it was time to hang up the phone. The odds of getting the food we wanted were quite long at that point and I was in no mood to eat something I didn’t order. We ended up driving to another taco place (just as good, by the way) and brought home exactly what we wanted.

The reminder is this. First, more folks are using the telephone to place orders to go these days for the obvious reasons. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the restaurant business or selling hardware or party goods. People want to call in and pick up. Next, because of this, the person or persons answering that phone need to know the products (or menu). In my case, the language wasn’t an issue – I speak enough Spanish to get by – but my guess is that the bulk of your customers speak English so your phone people should be able to as well.

This woman’s inability to handle our order didn’t just cost them last night’s business. The last time we ordered from this place we received the wrong food in our order having ordered over the phone and picked up. I love the food but I love getting the food I order even more. I probably won’t go back until I’m comfortable ordering in person (you can’t order online from this place either). When a customer service issue becomes routine, you’re in trouble.

Every customer interaction is a chance to shine. Every person who will be dealing with customers needs to have the training and resources they need to shine brightly, especially now.  Make sense?

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Filed under food, Helpful Hints, Huh?

Tennis Anyone?

We’re getting to the time of the year when political conversations, which are always lurking, come front and center. It’s not just that nearly every media outlet is covering the elections almost full-time. Social media, at least my feeds, is almost entirely politics (along with dog and cat photos).  What strikes me most about all of this is how little of the discourse is a conversation and how much of it is a rant.

Of course, politics isn’t the only place where that pattern holds true. I’ve been in many business situations where people with opposing or different views on a topic don’t really converse and try to resolve their differences. They do a lot of talking and almost no listening. That’s something I always found to be unacceptable when my team did it, and so I’d remind them that being creative and developing ideas, is like playing tennis. You send something out and wait to see what comes back. In order to continue to play, you need to make adjustments since it won’t be coming back to the same place at the same speed every time.

Take note, as you scroll through the comments in social media, or on some blogs or in your next business meeting, about how little factual information is hit over the net at the other side. Note as well how a lot of the “players” don’t really have an interest in the game. They “win” by reciting whatever preconceived notion ad infinitum and either waiting for everyone else to give up or by taking their ball and racquet and going home. That accomplishes nothing but to make each person who participates in this way more dug in, angrier, and frankly, dumber, or at least, less smart.

If you’re having a dialog, remember that the word is rooted in the notion of accomplishing something through speech (dia: through and logos: speech, reason).  You need to listen to do so. What do we accomplish via monologue other than to express ourselves? Does it matter if anyone is listening?

Playing tennis against an opponent requires you to adjust and accommodate and change your tactics. Playing against a wall by yourself doesn’t. Tennis anyone?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?, Reality checks