General best practices, from marketing to customer service and beyond, to help solar contractors do a better job growing your business and keeping customers.
Residential and commercial solar owners are facing a declining federal solar tax credit over the next few years. The current 30% deduction drops to 26% in 2020, then 22% in 2021. Starting in 2022, only new commercial solar energy owners will be eligible for a 10% tax deduction for the cost of their systems. This makes solar best practices even more critical for contractors; not just to generate solar sales today, but to ensure continuing solar sales even as federal tax incentives decline.
What is the single most effective thing you can do to ensure future solar sales? Make sure your current customers are happy. This is because the single greatest predictor of future solar is installed solar; when folks see their neighbors installing solar on their homes and businesses, they are more likely to purchase solar themselves. If a potential future customer asks one of your current customers about their solar experience, what will they say?
The “golden rule” of customer experience is, sadly, often forgotten and neglected in our hectic daily business lives: treat your customers as you would wish to be treated in their place. It is important to remember that this is a proactive, not a reactive, practice. It involves not only getting to know your customer—their likes and dislikes, and, yes, their not-so-lovable aspects—but actually caring for them. These are people, not sales statistics. Being proactive means planning ahead—with your customer, as well as the installation, in mind.
How else can you market to your customers’ neighbors and beyond, while ensuring the highest levels of customer service?
Solar Sales: Marketing
We recommend that you start with Marketing 360’s How to Market Solar Energy – Solar Marketing Ideas, Tips, & Lead Generation Strategies. But also keep these in mind:
- “Another solar installation by…” yard signs. Sometimes the simplest marketing options are among the best.
- Solar Selfies. Take photos with each customer that include your company logo (perhaps on your yard sign). Share these promptly with your customer so that they may share via their social media channels at the same time you are sharing via your own channels.
- “Are you willing to provide a testimonial?” goes a long way toward encouraging new customers. (And, if not, did you somehow fail to provide service worthy of a testimonial?)
Solar Sales: Customer Service/Experience
We have already quoted the most important, as in golden, rule above. Be sure to check out the customer services offered by your competition to see what you might have forgotten and where you might be falling short. Customer service is indeed an art, but there is a science to it as well. For example, Entrepreneur has several excellent articles, including:
- 10 Reasons Why Good Customer Service Is Your Most Important Metric (“Bad news travels very fast. Think viral. Warren Buffett once said, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.’”)
- 8 Ways Customer Service Affects Your Business’s Bottom Line (“Your customer service reflects on your entire business. Rightly or wrongly, people assume that if your customer service is good or bad then your product or service is too.”)
- The Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience (“Customer service is reactive, where customer experience is proactive”)
The Balance Small Business offers pragmatic advice with 8 Rules for Good Customer Service:
1. Answer Your Phone
2. Don’t Make Promises Unless You Will Keep Them
3. Listen to Your Customers
4. Deal with Complaints
5. Be Helpful—Regardless of Profit
6. Train Your Staff
7. Take the Extra Step
8. Throw In Something Extra
The Next Level: Customer Service Psychology
Nextiva has an excellent blog post on 15 Customer Service Psychology Tips to Master. Ever heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? (“This pyramid can be applied directly to customer service psychology in terms of customer ‘needs.’”) Emotional intelligence? (“If there is a lack of knowledge or understanding about Emotional Intelligence, it’s almost impossible to possess these [customer service] skills, as most are directly related to it.”) Cognitive bias? (“Essentially, you become their customer service problem solver, which can create a halo effect. This effect is a type of cognitive bias.”) If not, it’s time you learned. If you read, understand, and practice what this article preaches, you will take your customer service to the next level, which is likely higher than your competition’s.
Solerus Can Help!
Marketing and customer service are hard. No one person can do it all. Let us help. Solerus Energy believes that solar contractors have it hard enough with their profits being eaten away at by the soft costs of solar. Solerus is there to help you maximize your highest-value lead provider—your customers—with affordable equipment and an array of helpful services for solar contractors.
Solerus Energy offers two solar permit services, full solar design and permit package and solar single line diagram (free of cost with any residential system order up to 25kW or $50 with on order) for ANY residential and commercial solar installation in the USA. That includes battery back-up and off-grid solar installations, small and large commercial installations!
Our equipment is top of the line by well verified and established and industry leading manufacturer, made according and per all required certification.
We can provide technical support not only in regard to designing the system and but also during installation and assist in complete Bill of Material down nuts and bolt.
Stellar customer service before and after installation.
Solerus Energy can help you focus on growing your customer base, whether you are a residential or commercial contractor, at discount prices. And your customer base is your greatest source of new customers.