We once spoke with a company that needed help with customer communications. Their VP told us they had a "customer concierge" team to assist customers. Hearing that made me hopeful of something new. However, when I asked what they did, he explained all the roles and responsibilities of a typical customer service team. While "customer concierge" may have sounded impressive, it was really just a glorified title for their customer service team, which they used to help "differentiate" themselves from their competitors. But did it really differentiate them?
As competition in the solar space grows, the need to differentiate your solar business grows with it. One of the ways that many solar companies try to differentiate is on customer service. They take phone calls from customers, provide timely responses over email, and effectively troubleshoot whenever they have a complaint. However, great customer service no longer is enough to differentiate your business.
Solar businesses that want to stand out from the pack need to look beyond just customer service and start focusing on customer experience. Whereas customer service is often reactive, customer experience is proactively communicating with the customer, so they have the best possible ride on the solarcoaster. Put another way, customer service is a customer’s isolated interaction (or interactions) with a solar company. Customer experience is the total sum of experiences that the homeowner has with your solar business.
One of the key factors in generating great word of mouth and return business is providing both quality customer service and an incredible customer experience. By exceeding your customers' expectations throughout every step of the installation process, you'll set your business up to stand out from the competition and greatly enhance your growth potential.
In this post, we'll look at how you can take not just your customer service to the next level, but also your company’s customer experience. We’ll also examine some of the tools that will help you excel at keeping your solar customers happy.
Tip #1: Have your sales team use your amazing customer service and experience as a selling point
Having great customer service and delivering a great customer experience will certainly help bring in word-of-mouth referrals, but you shouldn't rely on word-of-mouth to be the only way your accolades are marketed to homeowners. Someone coming to you without knowledge of who you are or what your company stands for doesn't have word-of-mouth to rely on.
For these customers, it's important that your sales team be the ones to sell them on the value proposition that your customer service — and more importantly, customer experience — brings. Train your sales reps to understand what the industry standard for customer service is and to communicate to homeowners how your team goes above and beyond.
When speaking with potential customers, emphasize that your company is committed to great service, frequent communication, and, ultimately, their satisfaction. Your sales team should be prepared to explain to homeowners the tools that will be at their disposal to track the progress of their installation when they hire your company (more on this below).
What might surprise your sales team is that many of the “standout” customer service activities are actually regarded by homeowners to be givens. While a tight callback rate or an update at each phase of the project might seem like a competitive differentiator, this is the level of customer service that most homeowners are accustomed to, thanks to companies like Amazon.
That’s why it’s important for your sales team to contextualize how your customer service and customer experience stand out from competitors in the area. Not only will educating the customer help to close more sales but following through with great customer service will also set up your team for future success, with more happy customers and more referrals.
Tip #2: Associate your brand with great customer support
Although they may not seem related, branding is an important part of the equation when you're looking to build a competitive advantage based on your customer service and customer experience. As is always the case with branding, you want customers to be able to recognize your name and other branding elements when they see them.
You must go beyond simple branding efforts, though. Not only do you want customers to know your name, but you want them to associate that name with great service and a great response rate. By combining your branding efforts with a focus on great customer support, you're helping to make potential customers aware of what makes your company different.
Once people have associated your brand with a truly customer-centric approach to business, they will become more confident in making a purchase from you. This will make life easier for your salespeople and help them close more deals.
The inverse is also true. A company that doesn't place enough emphasis on customer service will develop a reputation for being difficult to work with, and even the best sales reps may not get their foot in the door. If this happens to your solar business, it'll be much harder for sales teams to close deals. So always be sure to deliver the excellent customer service that your sales reps are promising.
Tip #3: Go big with video testimonials from existing customers
Of course, the best word-of-mouth is when one of your customers shares their positive customer experience with someone in their network. This is a fantastic way to get additional business and testimonials featured on your website or social channels that can extend the reach of this praise. After all, social proof has become a major part of the way consumers make decisions.
In fact, online reviews and testimonials are read by 92% of consumers before they make a purchase decision, and they have a notable impact on the purchasing decisions of 95% of customers. Creating and forefronting great social proof – like testimonials from your brand champions – can enhance your solar business's chances of drawing in additional customers.
Video testimonials are one of the best ways to capture what makes your company stand out. They allow your potential customers to see the face and mannerisms of the person talking about your business, which can resonate much more than mere words on a page. Today’s consumers are skeptics, and a video affirms that this testimonial came from an actual person.
You needn't limit your videos to customer experience testimonials, either. A well-planned video montage of your installers talking about the ways in which they've gone above and beyond for customers, or the leaders of your business explaining why customer service is so important, can also help to build your company’s brand of a customer-first business.
These testimonials can be posted on multiple social platforms — from a YouTube channel to a Twitter page and beyond. The greater transparency into your process that video offers will go a long way in increasing a buyer's confidence in choosing your business for their needs.
Tip #4: Invest in a quality tech stack and automation to your advantage
There are a lot of great tools out there that can help you improve your customer experience. When evaluating different softwares, it's important to look at your options and invest in the tools that will make the biggest difference in your workflow. These tools will help to automate some of the more repetitive tasks that are required of your staff while elevating the communication experienced by your customers. Let’s look at a few essentials.
- Customer relationship management software (CRM) - A CRM acts as a single source of truth for all your customer information. It connects to your other business software and ensures that everything stays in sync. With a CRM, your staff will have a more complete picture of a particular customer's case and can respond more accurately to their concerns.
- Customer experience platforms - Customers have lots of questions during the solar installation process. With no other method to get accurate information, they'll have to call your staff to get answers. This takes time that could be spent on other things, like actually executing on projects or closing deals. The right customer experience platform will create an online repository of information for customers. This includes specific information about their installation and its progress, as well as resources for them to find answers to more general questions. It will update them regularly on the status of their installation, provide them with data about their solar use post-installation, and even provide an easy access point for referring friends down the road.
- Monitoring Platforms - The customer experience doesn’t end after the install, and neither should your customer service. A robust monitoring platform that brings together all the various monitoring apps that the homeowner needs to track their solar can keep customers informed and help streamline service. It provides them with an ongoing, positive customer experience that keeps them connected to your business and increases the chance that they’ll use the same app for referring their friends later on.
Tip #5: Segment your customer and tailor their experience based on their persona
A common tactic in marketing is to build buyer personas. These are personified versions of your most common customer demographics. CRM software can help you segment your customers in a way that allows you to create these personas. These personas provide a target for copywriters to address when writing copy.
Once you've landed a customer, however, you need to start viewing them as more than a number within a certain customer segment. Each person who comes to you for solar installation will have their own set of goals and expectations. Understanding what those goals are can help ensure that your team delivers a service the customer will love.
Taking extra time to understand a homeowner’s reasoning for purchasing a solar installation will also show the customer from the start that you take their satisfaction seriously. It will build immediate trust and set the tone for the great customer service you'll provide in the future. Over time, a good solar business will notice trends in what customers in the area are looking for and can align those customer goals with its own business goals.
Tip #6: Solicit feedback directly from your customers
You can think that you're providing stellar customer service, but what's important is whether or not customers agree. A regular part of your business should include soliciting feedback from customers about how well you've done, ideally through your customer experience platform. Listen to the feedback provided to you and keep your ratings trending in the right direction.
Start building your competitive advantage with a powerful solar customer experience platform
Bodhi's customer experience platform is designed specifically for the solar industry. It provides your customers with automated, up-to-date information about their installation without requiring them to pick up the phone. With Bodhi’s white-labeled platform, sharing documents, getting signatures, and managing referrals is easy. To see all the ways that Bodhi can give your company the advantage of great communication, request a free demo today.