Your comprehensive guide to better solar reviews in 2024

6 tips to help you improve and increase your solar reviews
Author : 
April 26, 2024

Tell us if you can relate to this:  You’re hungry.  You’re in a new town or maybe even just a neighborhood in your city you don’t often visit, so you open up Google and type in "Restaurants near me."  Then, you immediately start narrowing your options down to the places with a 4.0+ (or preferably 4.5+) rating.  After all, anything below that can't be good, right?

We’ve probably all lived this exact scenario at least a half dozen times.  But here’s the thing you need to realize as an installer:  That’s exactly what solar customers do too!  Once they’ve made the decision to go solar, they just Google "solar near me," and look for the highest rated solar companies.  

And that’s why reviews can make or break a solar business.  If you don’t have the scores, you’re not even being considered.

But don’t worry.  Below, we’ve compiled our top 6 tips to help you tackle two common, review-related issues facing solar installers: 

  1. How to handle a bad review 
  2. Tactical things your team can do to increase the number of positive reviews for your business.

Without further ado, let’s get into the tips to help you increase your positive reviews.

Tip 1: Set (and stick to) a bad review “response time”

Before we can get into the tips to help you grow your great reviews, we need to tell you how to handle any bad ones that you might face along the way.  And our number one tip?  Respond IMMEDIATELY.  

The faster you respond to a bad review, the more likely it is you can get the customer to change it.  You’re catching them while they’re still invested in your company.  If you’re able to show them that you care about their feedback and are willing to take immediate action to help them solve whatever their problem is, you can help flip their opinion.

If you let a bad review sit for a few days, it’s likely that that customer has moved on with their life.  They won’t be invested in changing their review — and they won’t be impressed with your lack of urgency to their issue.  Moving quickly also provides better optics for any prospect who may see your customer’s 1-star before they change it. 

That’s why you need to work with your operations or marketing team to develop two determine two crucial things:  

  1. What’s the maximum acceptable response time?
  2.  What’s your standard, templated response to a bad review?

Having a standard response helps you stay within your defined maximum acceptable response time.  That way, project managers can respond without waiting for approvals or worrying about going “off script.”  

If you want to try and flip their review from 1-stars to 5-stars, what comes next is pretty simple:  Have the responsible project managers take the issue offline and give the upset customer a call.  In the call, first endure the customer rant.  Then be empathetic, saving the situation the best you can.  

The good news is that the odds are actually in your favor!  83% of customers said they felt more loyal to brands that resolved and responded to their complaints. 


Tip 2: Audit your bad reviews to identify gaps in your operations

Do you know the #1 cause of bad reviews? Communications.  

Specifically, homeowners who asked a question, never received a response, and have to follow up.  It’s understandable.  Having to ask the same question twice is always annoying — but when homeowners have paid thousands for solar, they especially hate it. 

Whether it's missed phone calls or unanswered emails, nothing provokes a 1-star review faster than bad communications.

That’s why every time your team doesn’t promptly respond to a customer’s question, you’re risking them reaching out again and leaving a 1-star review.  

However, we know that not every homeowner has reasonable expectations on response times.  One installer told us about a homeowner who messaged their project manager at 6pm asking for an update on their permit approval.  They then followed up at 9:15am the next morning asking why they hadn’t yet received a response.

The best way to determine if you’re just dealing with a difficult customer, or if there’s an actual issue that needs solving it to audit your bad reviews.  With each 1-star review, have your operations lead answer these 3 questions:

  • What was the longest stretch of time that customer went without an update?
  • Is the project manager responsible for that account overwhelmed — and therefore are communications purely transactional?
  • Did someone set an expectation for communication frequency that proved untenable?

Your answers determine whether a larger solution is needed.  For example, if you found that many of your bad reviews were caused by legitimate gaps in project communications, your operations team could automate the routine project updates so they happen regularly and don’t take more work.  

Tip 3: Stick to Google reviews

We get asked all the time which review sites actually matter for solar businesses.  Installers want to know if EnergySage or SolarReviews are worth their time, or if they should be focusing exclusively on Google reviews.  

While we respect the work these other companies are doing, unfortunately Google is king.  81% of customers check Google Reviews, making it far more important than industry-specific reviews sites.  

On top of that, it’s your Google reviews that will pop up when a prospect searches “solar near me.”  Having good Google reviews also helps your SEO ranking as well, helping prove to Google that you have a legitimate business, which means it in turn wll drive more prospects to your website.

Tip 4: Stop review gating

You may be breaking one of Google’s review policies without even knowing it.  And if you are, you’re risking Google deleting ALL of your reviews. 

That’s because Google tries to crack down hard on a practice it calls review gating.  Even if you don’t know the term, you probably know the practice.  Review gating is when you selectively ask happy customers for reviews.  

Whether it’s over text, an email campaign, or a face-to-face request, if you’re only asking your happiest customers for reviews, you risk incurring Google’s wrath.  According to Google, ALL customers need to be given equal opportunity to give reviews.

Rather than gamble and see how long you can fly under Google’s radar, we recommend solar companies stick to the letter of the law.  Start implementing review campaigns across your entire customer base — not just to the customers who recently texted their PM a compliment.

You’re probably saying, “That’s absurd.  That’s just inviting a bunch of 1-star reviews.”  However, studies have shown that by asking for reviews more often and making it easier for customers to give a review, a company will have a higher overall average than if they were choosey with when and who they ask.  That’s because these companies tend to just have more reviews, which drown out their bad reviews much more effectively than any review gating tactic could.  

Tip 5: Start using QR codes

Almost every solar business wants to bring up their average review.  But have you ever done the math on what exactly it’ll take to get to your ideal score?  

Let’s say that your business has 100 Google reviews and a 4-star average.  If you want to bring up that average to a 4.5, you’re going to need another 100 5-star reviews. And yes, we know that sounds daunting.  Literally doubling your Google reviews AND every single one of them needs to be perfect?  But that’s why using a tool like Review Trackers to do the math can be helpful — it gives your team a quantifiable goal that they know they need to hit.

And there’s a hack to hitting those kinds of big numbers.  If you’ve already tried and been disappointed by things like adding a button to your website or sending an automated review request after install, let us turn you on to a new tactic to add to your tool belt: The QR code. 

From the kitchen table conversation to the site inspection, in solar you spend a lot of time physically in front of your customers.  That’s why having a QR code that your team can easily whip out and have the customer scan makes a huge difference.  

Restaurants have normalized QR codes and this process.  In fact, one restaurant that the Bodhi team frequents has over 14,000 reviews with a 4.8 average!  Their owner said those numbers would have never been possible if they didn’t start adding a QR code sign on their tables.  

While solar is obviously different from the food industry, the principle of the QR code stands.  Try putting a QR on sales team water bottles, proposals, even the vehicles your teams take to their installs.  There’s no easier way to have a solar customer leave a review. 

Tip 6: Create a direct link to your Google reviews

Of course, if you want to implement our QR code tip effectively, you need to link your customers directly to the Google review form.  Here’s how you can create a link to leave a review that will require just a single click from your customers:

  1. This is the specific URL that allows a Google review submission to pop up automatically:

However, you’ll need to add in your business’s unique “place ID” after the = in order to make this link custom to your business.  That’s why step number two is:

  1. Go directly to this link and search your solar company’s name.  
  2. Then copy the place ID, and add it to the end of the URL from step one

If you follow these three steps, you’ll be able to create a custom link that takes your customers directly to leave you your 5-star review.  

Don’t make reviews an uphill battle

Even if you follow all of these tips to the letter, the truth is it’ll still be difficult for your company to get the kinds of 5-star reviews it wants if it’s not delivering an amazing customer experience.  In the age of Amazon and Uber, solar customers have higher expectations than ever before.  They want access to information 24/7, and they expect their solar installer to stay in constant communication throughout the installation process. 

If you’re looking for a partner who can help you exceed these high customer expectations, while also automating review and referral requests to grow your business, Bodhi can help.  Schedule a time with us or get started for free now.

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