How to Retain Customers: 5 Tips to Good Service

This post was originally published in 2013. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

The photovoltaic market is changing a great deal these days, and as a result, installers are facing new challenges. In addition to core business offerings and well-made products, customers expect extensive service and support and quick responses when service is needed.

Exceptional customer service is a key component to success. When you provide excellent service, you create loyal customers. Even more importantly, excellent service does more than simply ensure existing customer loyalty – it also attracts new customers through referrals or word-of-mouth.

It is particularly important to maintain an ongoing relationship with your customer. If you think about it, taking simple steps to ensure the loyalty of an existing customer takes less time and energy than acquiring a new customer.

With these five tips, your customer will remember you and will be likely to recommend your products and services to others.

1. Take time

Explain to your customer exactly how a PV system and inverters work. Be specific and provide examples (e.g., how the display works).

2. Give good advice

Get in contact with your customers before their factory warranties expire and explain to them the advantages of an extended warranty.

3. Act, don’t react

Inspect your customer’s installation at regular intervals. Being proactive with pre-scheduled service calls can help prevent major repairs in the future. Plus, it shows the customer that you are reliable.

4. Monitor performance

Check performance figures and discuss them with your customer. Recommend a communication product that is appropriate for their needs. It will help you collect important data at the customer’s site and when service is needed, the SMA Service Line will be able to help the customer more quickly.

5. Make a nice gesture

Send your customers a Holiday or birthday card or just send a note every now and then to check in and thank them for their business.

Do you have additional tips? What are your experiences? We look forward to hearing your suggestions.

36 Comments
  1. Avatar
    George Rivera says:

    I had my solar panels for less than a year when the comm module (Q-module) on one of the Sunny boy inverters failed. I could not get the company that installed the system to replace it. I could not find a replacement module online. I got so disgusted with SMA that I disconnected the offending inverter and replaced it with Enphase microinverters and I could not be happier. Their customer support is much better at Enphase. I will replace the other Sunny boy and replace it with Enphase microinverters as well.

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Jan Pettersen says:

    I am an ovner of SB 5000 TL-21 Installed in Norway.
    No i am very incerten about the country specific parameter settings.
    Country:Norway
    language: England.
    Can You help me?

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Rob says:

    I am at a remote locatiin. One of our A/C inverters is down not allowing the system to function. The installer sent out local repair guus that only do cosmetic repair. The system is down. How do I bypass the bad inverter to bring the rest of the system online. Is there a troubleshooting manual?

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Chris Roberts says:

    Hi, I have a Sunny Boy installation here in the UK. Great system no troubles at all – installed in 2011. I have been using a PC for work to run the SMA explorer software as all my other devices are MACs. I leave the company on Firday and just realised I need a MAC compatible solution. I am confused from blogs – Is there or is there not a version of SMA Explorer that runs on a MAC please? If not what other options do I have please? Yours very confused. Danke fur ihren helfen. Chris

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Kris says:

    Is there an issue with Sunny Portal right now? We have roughly 1000 webboxes in the field and almost half of them went down around 6:00AM CST – Spread between a couple hundred different clients/locations.

    Reply
  6. Avatar
    THOMAS says:

    Hi Rob ,
    I am reaching out to you because you sound knowledgeable about the SMA products , of which I have been most satisfied with . ( over 50 installs , 0 problems ) . I do , however , now have an issue with programming the Sunny island , which I have called tech support here in western US to help resolve with no solution as yet .
    Can you explain how to program the SI 4548 for self-consumption ? I have 2 systems with a 4 and 5 kw Sunny Boy respectively with battery bank of ( 8 ) 102 amp hr. glass matt batteries , Smartformer , and SI 4548 . I have been trying since their installation September 2015 , and have not had any success. My clients are upset with the result , and I am beginning to lose the confidence I had in offering the SMA product . I have reached out by e-mail and phone to everyone I can think of to resolve this ,
    Thank you ,
    Thomas

    Reply
  7. Avatar
    Thomas says:

    Hi Justin ,
    I have from my emails to you and tech Support gathered that the SMA self consumption system is a limited self consumption system . What I mean by that is this :
    The equipment we have assembled in 2 systems , wired according to SMA manuals with SMA Technical Support and Commissioning as self consumption systems , will NEVER back feed the grid . This back feed is essential to keeping system using as much solar energy to off-set utility costs , relying on battery @ night to further reduce utility costs . To have the system ” idle ” while the sun is shining is counterproductive . I understand it is the Sunny Island that controls this . Can’t some updated firmware for the SI be written to allow back feed , instead of the 3rd party equipment you described ?
    I have intention to install many more systems attempting to reach the ” ideal ” self consumption system . I would like to use the SMA products because of their known reliability , of which I am a personal witness . Are there plans to do some updating to meet the current utility situation we face here and elsewhere ? ( curtailment and downsizing of home-based PV )
    Thank you ,
    Thomas

    Reply
  8. Avatar
    Wagner Matos says:

    I`m using a 7000 HV-11 inverter with 15 modules trina 305w just one string conected to DC connection + and -.
    I growing this system to 24 modules in to strings 12 + 12.
    My question is: How to connect this 2 strings on the inverter? I have to use connection (+ and -) or (++ and –)?
    Thanks

    Reply
  9. Avatar
    Bj says:

    Can I put a Type I or Type II surge arrester on the SunnyBoy 3000TL-US-22 and Sunny Island 6048 -US? Or should I place the surge arresters on the incoming dc and ac connections/conduit? Please advise Thanks

    Reply
  10. Avatar
    joe says:

    I have questions about the SMA Sunny Boy 6.0 SB Inverter:
    1. Where is the unit physically manufactured. I thought all your units were manufactured in Denver.
    2. What is the battery port for? Per the docs: can you tell me what this refers to?

    If you have set the operating mode Battery bank or BatCha, make further settings: • Select the parameter Minimum On power for MFR battery bank or Mlt.BatCha.Pwr and set the desired value. This will configure the power threshold from which the battery is to be charged. • Select the parameter Minimum time before reconnection of MFR battery bank or Mlt.BatCha.Tmm and set the desired value. This will configure the minimum time which must elapse after charging the battery before the battery can be charged again.

    3. Can you tell me why when I call tech support i either sit on hold for minutes on end and when I leave a message as I did on Monday of this week, that I received no call back even 4 days later?

    thanks

    Reply
  11. Avatar
    Joe says:

    How to connect sma sunny boy 6.0 sb inverter to my current home wireless network.
    Inverter is in my garage.
    My wireless router is in the house.
    Running an Ethernet cable between inverter and home wireless router is not feasible.
    Therefore on my PC I have to switch between my house network and sma inverter network.
    This seems like an unnesscary burden.
    How do I configure the sma wps wireless to join my home network.

    Reply
  12. Avatar
    Bj says:

    I have a SB3000TL-US 22 and a SI6048. The array is going directly to the DC disconnect. I want to place some surge arresters at the DC point an AC point.
    There are no breakers or surge arrester between the PV array and DC disconnect
    How can I wire in a DC surge arrester for the PV panels at the DC disconnect?
    Can a surge arrester be placed in the SB and SI itself? Please advise. Thanks!!

    Reply
  13. Avatar
    John Wallingford says:

    How do I go about extending the warranty on my STP 24000TL and STP 15000TL inverters? I have a total of 36 inverters on my site.

    Reply
  14. Avatar
    Roland Stearns says:

    Hello,

    I just sent the following to your Service eMail before seeing this comment box. It seems worth it to send again to reach a broader group. Thanks for noting:

    Hello,

    We are in the process of purchasing/installing a roughly 3.27 KW [string] Sunpower panel system that interfaces through one of your Sunny Boy inverter systems.

    I have telephoned both Sunpower and your own tech support, but haven’t been able to reach someone who can give me definitive answers to the following:

    1. The brochure from you provided by our Legend Solar [St. George UT] installer indicates that one of the inverter systems would be from your 3000TL-US [or larger] line, and shown on the brochure is what appears to be a 1500-watt “5PS” emergency inverter for periods in which the grid is down. We have a 2KW gasoline Honda generator and residence transfer switch/breakers connecting to a limited amount of our house circuitry to include the refrigerator and certain lighting and outlets. We are not currently interested in more emergency power than that, but also would like to have more than the 1.5KW available through this “5PS” inverter.

    2. Is there any means for upgrading ths 1.5KW inverter to 2-3KW at this time?

    3. If not, can you give us a reason [safety or regulatory?] why not, and;

    4. are there any plans to upgrade this is in the future?

    We believe that it would be a large plus for your company to offer the extra KW during periods when the grid is down, especially in view of the fact that in such cases, the panel array could still be generating a potential 3KW+ of power, but that can neither be used completely by the home owner nor presumably, be returned to the grid/electrical company [in case of power outages].

    Thanks greatly for taking the time to give us whatever information you can. Sunpower representatives did suggest that we should contact you about this.

    Regards,

    Dr. Roland Stearns
    Cedar City UT 84720

    Reply
  15. Avatar
    Charles Lee says:

    I installed 9 KWH solar system in 2003 and started to use it in 2005. (60 BP SX150 solar panels). I had three converters and from SMA. All three converters were replaced by SB4000US-12 converters. The last one was replacement about June 30, 2014, Serial No. 2005200332. About three days ago, the converter kept getting AFCI error, but it might last several hours.
    This morning, It would not start. I checked the AC source and it was normal 238 to 241VAC. I checked DC source, it was 318 VDC. I reset it 5 times, it still gave me AFCI error without generate any power.

    Please tell me what can I do? I am not the original installer, but I did install all my replacement converters. Last time, the original installer’s company tried to replace 2 bad solar panels. They came here three times and could not fix the problem. (due solar panel size difference and polarity issue).
    Some connecting lines had been cut and taped several times by the specialists. I finally fixed the problem by moving new panels to the edge and fixed the problem. All the BP solar panels are 14 years old.
    Please give me some good advice, so I can fix the problem.
    Please email me the advice, since my phone is though satellite, very offend I can not hear the whole sentence. 1-951-795-4358

    Reply

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