Minnesota Public Radio knows how to engage customers

A great way to serve your customers is to engage them. Get to know them. Learn who they are, what they think and how they’d like to work with you. Some studies suggest this is one of the most important things you can do to increase customer retention.

I like companies that engage their customers because it means they care and they’re smart.

It shows they care because they are reaching out to customers to get to know them. It shows they’re smart because they realize not all the answers come from inside the company. Smart leaders engage customer sand employees – they get everyone involved in finding solutions and creating opportunities.

In Minnesota a great example of this is Minnesota Public Radio, affectionately known around here  as MPR.  Through their Public Insight Network they reach out to listeners to learn who they are and how they can better work together as media company and media consumer.

I stumbled on this recently as a link from a story on their main website. They posed a question I found intriguing, so I responded. Later I received a thank you and a follow up. Gradually they engaged me more and more until I found myself on the phone with Mike Caputo, an analyst/reporter for MPR.

Who knows where this will lead. Maybe some fun and valuable publicity for me. Hopefully some useful insights and opinions for MPR. But even better is the process and how it benefits MPR.

By reaching out to their listeners, Minnesota Public Radio is telling us they don’t have all the answers. They’ve avoided the typical arrogance that infects so many companies – arrogance that says all useful ideas come from within the corporate walls.

This reminds of a talk I heard by Shari Ballard, an executive vice president at Best Buy. In a presentation at the University of Minnesota she said companies need to “make the math work”. At Best Buy that means corporate staff reaches out to their retail staff for ideas and answers. This puts 140,000 heads to work on solutions instead of just 4,000.

MPR increases customer loyalty when they engage their customers. People who are engaged are more likely to listen, more likely to remain their customer. There is a natural connection, an affinity that develops.

They also deliver a better experience. By learning what their listeners think and feel, MPR understands better what content they can produce that will be more relevant and compelling. They succeed more because they have better information. Customer engagement makes them better and smarter at what they do.

What could your company do to engage your customers better? How could you reach out to them and get to know them more? If you could increase loyalty and deliver a more relevant and useful product or service, how much might that increase your bottom line?

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz