Today I want to talk to you about market share. We all watch it. Some watch it to see how they match up against their industry while others are more concerned with how they match up to a particular competitor. Have you ever thought to look at it from the perspective of entitled versus earned?
Entitled market share is an epidemic in the manufacturing industry. I see it every day in the clients I work with. And, it’s causing or is going to cause a problem for these organizations. It’s putting them at risk of losing customers – even the loyal ones – or at least the ones you thought were loyal. But don’t worry. As with any problem, the hard part is recognizing that you have one in the first place. And in this case, once you know you have entitled market share, you can start taking the necessary steps to converting it back to earned.
If market share is defined as your share of customers within a particular industry, then what is entitled market share? Entitled market share is your share of customers that only hear from you when they ask for a quote or want to place an order. You may be thinking, “wait a minute – are you talking about my repeat customers? The ones I can count on over and over?”. Yes, precisely those.
We just expect their business to be there day in and day out. Month over month and year over year. Sounds pretty entitled, right? Don’t confuse this with loyalty. “Loyalty is earned and is a result of your actions. Entitled is expecting as a result of inaction.”
It’s not instantaneous. It happens over time. It creeps up on you. You become comfortable and before you know it…Boom. Your competitor is offering to take better care of them. And just like that…they are with them and not you.
And the problem goes well beyond the sting of losing a customer particularly the sudden ones (which are usually the ones that were left unattended and under serviced). Did you ever think about the wake that follows the financial disruption? Sure, you hate to lose the revenue but, what about the company’s reputation? What stories do you think they’ll tell to explain what it was like to do business with you? And what impact will that have on your customer’s perception of you and your brand. After all, their perception is what fuels brand equity – and we want that to always be going up!
Identifying the percentage of your market share that is entitled can be challenging. It’s not impossible though, you just need to pay attention to the signs. Have not doubt, you have entitled market share. Every organization does. It’s just a matter of how much. To reconcile this, you certainly don’t want to wait until customers are leaving you.
So, let’s take a look at some of the signs you might be getting a little too entitled.
- If surveyed, your customer service marks are low or trending lower
- Referrals are low or trending lower
- Customer churn is high or tending higher
- Sales churn is high or trending higher
- Employee turnover is high or trending higher
- Your customer would benefit from preventative maintenance, but you don’t offer a program
- You don’t have a program for customer appreciation
- Your onboarding program doesn’t include quarterly check-ins
How did you do? Do any of these items apply to you and your organization? Even if only a couple of them do, there is work to do and the time to start is now.
Now, that you’ve identified it. How can you fix it? Well, it takes hard work. You’ve neglected this market share. You’ve taken it for granted. And like any relationship that’s taken for granted, either personal or in the business world, they just need to be reminded that they matter.
Here are a couple of ways to get started.
- Create a loyalty program
- Survey your customers regularly. Reward them for participating and then act on the results
- Be a good partner by providing solutions to all problems even if they are not yours
- Encourage relationship building over transactional sales
- Do something unexpected each year
- Work on your brand strategy to improve/better control your brand experience
- Invite them to your facility and give them a tour but make it about them not you
- Check for alignment between sales, service and marketing on a regular basis
- Honor commitments and do what is right
In the end, entitled market share is simply a result of customer neglect. And you expecting them to stick around makes your approach entitled. This behavior is a direct attack on the brand experience your company provides – thus the reputation you will earn (remember, you are who they say you are). In today’s market this is more important than ever. Information is moving at an exponentially increasing pace. It has never been easier for people to find out what it is like to be a customer of yours. It’s time to do the hard work and go the extra mile.
If you think of your brand’s experience like you do an annuity, you’ll put in the necessary effort and it will take care of you for years to come. And trust me, your customers do want to be loyal they just need to be reminded why.