How to Improve the Solar Customer Experience -- and Get More Referrals

Benjamin Sigrin, James Tong, Alison Mickey, Eric OShaughnessy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A fews week ago we discussed differences between solar considerers and solar adopters, highlighting the range of reasons that the majority of people who consider solar have yet to adopt it. The findings stemmed from a comprehensive $2.3M study led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and funded by the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative. Among the key barriers to adoption are uncertainties around the costs and benefits of solar. Prospective customers often need extensive validation of the promises of rooftop solar, especially since it is a huge investment, cannot be 'test-driven' before signing, and may not be superior to the status quo--that is, buying electricity from utilities. Arguably, the best validation is a satisfied solar adopter - part of the reason why referrals remain the most cost-effective means to acquire new customers. The good news is that, according to our survey of 1662 solar adopters, most customers seem satisfied with both solar and their installers. We conducted a net promoter score (NPS) analysis, which measures customer loyalty based on the relative percentages of solar 'promoters' and 'detractors' (dissatisfied customers). We asked survey respondents: a) how likely they are to recommend solar panels, and b) how likely they are to recommend their installers. We found that the average NPS for solar panels is 63 and the average NPS for solar installers is 52. A score of 50 or above is widely considered excellent (figure 2). Rooftop solar seems to elicit high levels of satisfaction as compared to established consumer industries, though we also need to keep tracking satisfaction, both for new customers and as existing ones gain more experience with their system. However, the fact that customers were more likely to recommend solar panels than their installers by nine percentage points suggests that there is room for improvement. This could be even more of an issue as the industry matures, more companies enter the market, and customers become more selective. It is thus essential to understand the factors influencing customer's satisfaction with rooftop solar.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalPV News
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Available from GreenTech Media:

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-66852


  • net promoter score
  • referrals
  • solar industry


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