There's an incredible story floating around the blogosphere (and now network TV) about how it took over 20 minutes for a customer to cancel an AOL account. Vincent Ferrari taped his call with an AOL service rep who really put him through the paces.
For radio, it's simply a matter of switching stations or punching a button. No wonder we have to try harder than so many new media outlets. AOL clearly has some customer satisfaction issues (and now it's all over the Internet). Of course, so do many other companies, from Home Depot to Northwest Airlines (ever wonder why I get a little grouchy sometimes?).
Perhaps you're heard about Net Promoter, the statistical measure of customer satisfaction. It was developed by a guy named Fred Reicheld for the Harvard Business Review, and it's a metric/philosophy that companies are using all over the world. In short, it measures the degree to which customers (listeners) will recommend a product (your station) to others - that is, positive buzz.
Some radio broadcasters have included a Net Promoter question in audience surveys, and we have used it in the last two Technology Polls. Look for more on Net Promoter at our upcoming Summit 11 in Dallas this September.
Yes, the music needs to be right, the jocks need to be on-point, and the marketing needs to be strategic. But the real measure of success is whether the audience talks about your stations - positively - to others. Over the years, word-of-mouth marketing has become essential to building great companies. That's part of the secret behind TiVo, Netflix, Starbucks, and Nordstrom. We've addressed this issue in past Summits, specifically with Ben McConnell, the father of Evangelism Marketing. There's more to come as radio stations need to do much more than compete against the station across the street.