How To Rock Your Solar Customer’s World

Industry IssuesInterviews

Customer experience is crucial to a solar company’s success and continued growth. Meeting (or exceeding) their expectations is top priority for many solar contractors.

I interviewed Erin, a woman who got her solar panels through SolarCity about 3 years ago, to get her feedback on her installation experience. Erin is a NY suburbanite in her mid 30s who is very Internet and social media savvy (she is a successful blogger at Emma Westchester blog). She is signed up as a “Solar Ambassador” which means she gets cash back for her referrals.

Erin walked me through her experience getting the installation and told me that, overall, the whole process was seamless and professional. Below are some particular insights I found interesting.

The Phone Interviews

The rep’s ability to be patient, clear and detailed throughout the initial interview(s) was key for putting her at ease and helping her make the commitment. It was very important the he could anticipate all her questions and have answers, documents to send and links she could view right away (both on the call and afterwards). Erin’s questions for the rep ranged from technical and financial to questions like “why don’t people use this more?” and “who is using it in my area?”

The Paperwork

The paperwork, which she had been dreading, was “a breeze” because it arrived in a packet with where and how to sign clearly laid out for her and a self-addressed/pre-paid envelope she could use to just drop it back in the mail.

During The Installation

Erin didn’t really care much about the ins and outs of the actual design (as in, what would go into creating it), but really liked the periodic email updates she received over the 6-8 weeks it took to complete the whole process.

The Post Installation App

Erin uses the app that SolarCity gave her after the installation to do the following: check changes in usage 3-4 times a year, see her savings and maybe glance at who her referrals are once a year. She is a bit frustrated that she doesn’t understand her savings: “I have asked [my rep] to help me understand it but the technical language (kilowatts etc.) sort of makes it hard for me to grasp. While I am mathematical…I am not very good scientifically.”

Her Take on Referrals and Reviews

1. She prefers to refer people by describing the experience or referring them to a blog post she did and giving them the contact info for her rep, rather than giving SolarCity her referee’s info. When she first got the system she posted a photo of it on her FB page and got a lot of PMs about it.

2. She wishes that her SolarCity Ambassador app did a better job of explaining why/how her savings are actually calculated so that she could use the app to show people who want to know about solar. Also, she said it would be nice if the app broke things down by percentages – like “you saved 20% of your bill this month” – so that folks could consider and compare savings no matter the house/system size needed.

3. She feels that many people don’t trust online review sites because the vendor can hide or remove negative reviews. People prefer a referral. If she uses reviews she uses something like yelp (where you can’t pay for reviews). She says people trust yelp and Google reviews.

What She Dislikes

Erin had first heard of solar from a sales rep from another company who knocked on her door. While it worked to peak her interest in solar, the woman’s terribly pushy, aggressive approach turned her off to the company.

Note: Erin is a blogger at a lifestyle blog called Emma Westchester and posted  of her experience getting solar panels for her house (before, during and after). Apparently, it has been a very helpful tool for introducing solar to people who ask her about it.


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