As a solar business owner, you handle a unique array of difficulties. First, you may encounter challenges endemic to a field services business: project inefficiencies, miscommunication, unnecessary truck rolls, and mismanaged inventory. Second, you’re contending with issues specific to the solar industry like supply chain constraints, rising material costs, competition, byzantine permitting regulations, and changeable legislation. Probably top of the list is your challenges around customer acquisition.
Soft cost problems are perennial in the solar industry. According to global research group Wood Mackenzie, the customer acquisition portion of these costs increased 9.2% from 2018 to 2020 and represented 23% of the total price of a residential solar system in 2021. The bottom line is that acquiring customers is expensive.
Field service management software can go a long toward lowering the costs of landing customers and addressing sources of customer loss.
The power of field service management software
A field service management app is a digital solution designed to help field service businesses take control of operations by automating a host of tasks and providing remote access to the office, real-time updates, and customer insights. Features include a work order management suite that allows office and onsite teams to coordinate scheduling, fleet tracking, administrative tasks, and asset management. The mobile component of the app enables field crews to get information on a job without having to check in with office staff so that your crew leads and service techs arrive armed with the most up-to-date information.
Field service management software also tracks all prospect and customer data in one place and documentation like design data, proposals, contracts, applications, images, and financing paperwork. Office staff and field techs enjoy seamless communication with one another and customers. Manual and automated notifications and alerts ensure that team members and customers can access real-time updates related to work order status changes, reminders, and delays.
It’s no surprise that more and more solar and renewable energy businesses are switching to a field services management solution.
The impact of field service management on customer acquisition
Your on-site teams are critical in providing excellent customer service, from early-stage sales and design personnel to installers and other techs to O&M service staff. They all represent the face of your company on the ground. A modern online solution to manage them creates a solid first impression that carries through the installation’s life and beyond.
Armed with all the features of a field service management solution, your office and onsite teams can provide superior customer service that improves brand awareness and retains loyal customers. Investing in your current customers is a terrific way to generate high-quality leads.
A team empowered to close and execute projects.
A field service management app enables your office and onsite sales personnel to be most effective from initial contact to contract to sign. Your sales personnel must have all the most recent data about prospects at their fingertips, such as qualification status, site data, and preliminary design information, to develop compelling initial proposals and close sales. They save considerable time by using an efficient platform to handle their workflow and communicate with office staff for needed information. All this means your sales team is more likely to avoid design errors and other bottlenecks due to inaccuracies in proposals or contracts.
During project planning and design phases, your sales reps, field crew, and office staff need quick, shared access to site assessment data, permitting paperwork, and any additional information required for change orders. This prevents extending a project timeline due to allowing paperwork inaccuracies or long turnaround for change orders. In particular, quick change order turnaround (or outright prevention of them) keeps you from losing customers. You want your field team to have the best communication and support during a change to shorten any lag time from your crew lead needing to pause a job.
Minimizing workflow disruptions and timeline extensions means more sales, happier customers, and secured profits.
The rippling effect of a superior customer experience
Field service management software allows your team to respond more effectively to customer needs and create personalized customer experiences. The platform enables you to collect, clean, and organize customer and lead information in one shared, instantly accessible place. Everyone has access to the most updated information about customer location, preferences, communication, requests, and concerns. That way, office and onsite staff gain a better understanding of them.
Additionally, your back-office engineers and technicians can coordinate their communications instantaneously to enjoy seamless communication with one another and customers, sending and receiving job updates and alerts in real-time or on a schedule. As a result, your customers have easy access to all they need to know about the status of their project or service.
Your staff also has the data to perform operational analysis to improve systems and remedy underlying issues, particularly customer relationships. Your sales and marketing staff can make effective strategic decisions: any campaigns they run through content marketing and advertising are more effective given the data they have about customers.
Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty encourage positive reviews and referrals, the most cost-effective way to land high-quality leads. And in addition to closing more sales, you’re better able to increase the lifetime value of your existing customers because you’ve laid the groundwork for offering complementary products or services like energy storage, EV charging, extended warranties, and ongoing maintenance.
Zuper offers a field service management system that brings the operational efficiency and oversight you need to keep employees operating at total capacity and customers satisfied. Its in-office and mobile components include intelligent scheduling, dispatching and timesheet management, administration of the entire life cycle of a work order, billing and payment collections, configurable alerts and notifications, and customer data and documentation management.
A handy feature in a software solution is integrated consumer financing to expedite the financing process when needed. It allows you to offer an option around paying for services or the system installation that is more palatable to prospects, as they can pay over time rather than all upfront. An example is Zuper’s full integration with online consumer financing provided by Wisetack, a leading provider of a “buy-now, pay-later” technology.
With over 13,000 PV solar installation companies nationwide, American solar is a crowded and fiercely competitive market. Drive down your customer acquisition costs and gain the advantage you need with a field services management solution like Zuper’s so you can stand out – and scale – in the best way.