By Michael Palmquist

A primary goal for service businesses like solar contractors is to please its customers. And a key part of pleasing customers is the quality of their interactions with employees. Happy employees are more likely to pass along their happiness to customers. It turns out that pleasing both customers and employees requires much of the same things. Both want clear expectations, proactive communications, efficient work, and objective accountability. Solar contracting businesses can apply software to their operations to bring greater likelihood of satisfaction to both their employees and customers.

The cornerstone of setting clear expectations with customers is the sales proposal and the contract. As solar contracting diversifies with energy storage and other services offerings, both proposals and contracts become more challenging to produce. Providing the sales team with software that makes it easy for consultants to accurately build proposals and contracts for a diverse range of energy services without having to spend time customizing documents can help consultants clearly represent the proposed services and their value to customers. They can also significantly reduce the chances for misunderstanding by either party.

Upon a sale, software should seamlessly begin project fulfillment operations without the need to transfer data and files to the fulfillment team. A seamless transition of the existing scope of work eliminates errors, omissions, and improves efficiency of the operations team. Advanced software can dynamically manage each employee’s task list, massively simplifying the time consuming activities of creating tasks and prioritizing work for each job. Effective software also proactively notifies users of key events and accurately maintains the latest status information – significantly reducing the time needed for team members to check with one-another for updates. Reducing employee interruptions and freeing users from the stresses of potentially letting something “fall through the cracks” are exceptional ways to relieve employee stress and focus them on productive customer fulfillment activities that drive both employee and customer satisfaction.

Since projects may require a long lead time before installation, and much of the work following a contract sale is not visible to customers, it’s critical to proactively communicate with customers and continually set expectations along the way. Your software should automatically send notifications (Email and SMS) to your customers as your team makes progress on their project – providing customers with instant visibility into the progress on their project and continually setting updated expectations, while freeing employees from additional busy work fielding client inquiry calls/emails.

Automating work assignment and tracking with effective software enables your employees to fulfill the customer projects in less time, which is one of the most important drivers of customer satisfaction. And with tracking, comes reporting. As they say, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Without objective data, “perceptions of performance” can vary significantly from employee to manager. Objective performance measures can put both employees and managers on the “same page.” When employees see measurements of their performance, they can feel like they have contributed to a solid team effort, and they can set goals for improvement. Measuring actual work performance can also expose the need for additional training and need for additional staff as project volume increases.

Solar contracting businesses use effective software to help set clear expectations, proactively communicate, and objectively fulfill their services in ways that enhance both customer and employee satisfaction.