By Janae Rowe, marketing manager, Simpleray
You’ve seen the online monitoring mobile apps on the market. They work — but that’s about it. Most don’t exactly look modern, with small fonts and graphs that are overloaded with information. Some customers using these apps may not always understand what they’re seeing. That’s how the idea for Simpleray Solar Tracker was born.
Simpleray VP David Birchmier saw a lack in the online monitoring mobile app selection.
“There wasn’t anything out there that was truly intuitive and nice to use,” Birchmier said. “The apps functioned, but they didn’t function well, had average user interfaces and didn’t exceed our customer’s expectations.”
Simpleray’s mission is to make solar simple, and so making solar monitoring simple was a natural extension of that goal.
Using an API, production data is fed into the application from the inverter’s existing monitoring system. The app displays the Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Annual production information in easy-to-read, interactive graphs. It doesn’t show anything more than what the customer needs to see.
While it’s true that common online monitoring apps like SolarEdge’s do more than Simpleray’s app, the point is to keep it simple for customers. That being said, customers with a storage solution in place may want a more advanced solution.
Simpleray also wanted a way to stay in touch with customers for the long haul, and what better way than being available right on the customer’s cell phone. By integrating the custom-built app with Zendesk Support, Simpleray customers can message back and forth with staff about issues or questions.
Staying in touch during installation and afterward is vital for customer satisfaction and peace of mind. Simpleray uses email, phone, texting and now the app to make communication convenient for the customer.
Green social sharing
Using the always-helpful epa.gov greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator and the customer’s actual kWh production so far, Simpleray makes it easy for customers to share their environmental impact on social media with a sharing button.
Customers are eager to share how they’ve gone green but aren’t always sure what to say. Sharing a post like, “We produced 123 kWh today,” doesn’t always translate to their friends. Simpleray’s app puts their environmental impact into context.
Referrals are the lifeblood of many solar installers and are more likely to convert than other types of leads. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a study that uncovered that solar contractors are commonly giving up too soon on referrals from customers, so making it easy for customers to send referral information was Simpleray’s secondary goal with the app. A short referral form is included within the app to make the process simple.
Developing the Simpleray tracking app in-house was no small undertaking, but it’s just one of many ways that this forward-thinking Midwestern solar company is using technology to bring the solar experience into the 21st century.
In the future, Simpleray hopes to enable push notifications to nudge customers that it’s been a while since they’ve checked out their solar production. They’ll also remind customers how they can make a cash referral bonus for any successful referral.
Janae Rowe has worked to develop Simpleray’s brand and presence in the Midwest since 2017, helping the company to gain recognition in several national publications. As a marketing maven and wearer of many hats, she is happiest when taking a project from good to great.