As anyone who has been involved in the solar industry knows, getting a project completed is a series of many, many steps. First there are the meetings with a prospect to help them appreciate the merits of solar and what you have to offer in terms of doing this work for them. This requires a lot of analysis, consultationsand often creative problem solving. It is exciting when you get to that first ‘finish line’ and sign the documents that make this project ‘live’, and your prospect is now a client.
Yet we all know that is just the start of many more steps that will need to be completed before that array can even start to get built. The challenge is that many of these steps happen in the background for the client.
From your perspective, you are working hard and focused on getting a great job done for your customer. From the client’s perspective, though, they often just get silence… Followed, two weeks later with the news that there is some paperwork to be signed, materials will be dropped off and of course, they need to provide some type of deposit check.
By then, while your client is likely glad to hear from you, they may have built up some concerns about what was going on and if you were going to be as attentive to their needs and priorities going forward. We in the solar industry have gotten really good at building our arrays with increased efficiency and better quality for less money. What many haven’t adopted is a standard protocol for communicating with clients to keep them in the loop in a meaningful way and make them feel a part of the total process.
While we might not require the same level of tracking seen when you order something from Amazon (your package is leaving the warehouse, your package is on a truck….) the truth is this model of online customer communication has become something of the norm, so an absence of communication can lead your customer to wonder if you are paying attention to them at all.
Medium-sized commercial solar projects--100kW to 1MW--typically have multiple permitting requirements, material orders, and a great deal of coordination to keep everything on schedule. While you may communicate internally through your different departments to achieve these milestones, are you keeping clients in the loop in a way they would expect?
Many of you use Smartsheet, Microsoft Project, or some other project management software. Each of these gives you the ability to set communications protocols for different stages of the solar build so clients are automatically notified. Or, these tools can remind you to make that phone call, or send a personal email. Best of all, these tools can be customized to some degree, so you can even ask a particular client for the type and frequency of update they expect in order to truly be responsive to their needs.
Whether or not you think it’s important for clients to know about the many steps you're going through to ensure a quality delivery is beside the point. With each notification, your client knows you're on their job. And in their eyes, that’s all you should care about.
At Sunvestment Energy Group, we understand client communications. We facilitate the financing for a variety of commercial and non-profit solar projects, and in each case, our clients are eager to know and understand the financing of their project--especially the more challenging ones. The more we communicate with our clients, the more we can try to help them lower the financial cost of their solar array. Call us today. Let's communicate about your next solar project.