2014 was a historic year for the deployment of solar in the U.S. Specifically, 22% more solar capacity was installed last year than in 2008. Nationally, cost reductions are expected to drive more than 3x growth in solar deployments between now and 2017. In 2013, the price of solar systems dropped nearly 15% and the number of installations increased by almost 20%. With interest growing and costs trending downward, there is a new solar installation being completed approximately every 3 minutes! This presents an unprecedented opportunity for utilities to deliver a great customer experience. Doing this requires that utilities begin the planning and execution of new approaches today.
The major shift in technology that Distributed Generation (DG) rollouts represents offers both challenges and opportunities. To date, much of the utility focus has been on keeping up with applications and ensuring installations do not negatively impact reliability—but maybe it is time for utilities to look closer at how they can ensure a positive customer experience. When customers reach out as part of the Interconnection and Net Metering application process, their perceptions and expectations will be shaped by experiences with online retailers and other easy-to-work with entities.
Delivering that ease-of-use, transparency and proactive communication can fundamentally improve your customer’s satisfaction. While the utility may handle numerous applications each month, most customers will only make a single application. For that customer to have a positive experience, that application must be processed smoothly. You can’t win a customer back with the excuse, “That doesn’t happen very often…”
Leveraging tools like on
-line application submission and management, e-payment processing and a centralized database of the related communications enables utilities to deliver timely and effective customer engagements related to the accelerated rooftop solar deployments. West Monroe Partners feels so strongly about the need for these types of tools that we developed Connect-the-Grid.