pv magazine Australia: The Covid-19 pandemic has many Australians, and people around the world, turning to rooftop solar as a way to curtail their increasing energy bills in the various stages of lockdown, how has Smart Energy proceeded under these difficult conditions? Were you able to respond to the rush?
Elliot Hayes, Co-Founder & Managing Director of Smart Energy: With the various stages and changes in lockdown we’ve had to ensure we are more agile than ever. It’s a consistent process of rolling out changes, testing and iterating to improve our offering and automate where possible.
We were very fortunate to experience an initial surge in sales as Covid-19 first hit Australia before lockdowns were in place but we have certainly felt the effects of Covid-19 on the business.
Over our four years of operation we’ve built a culture with change at its core so our team is well versed in adapting which has been a god-send during this time. As for handling fluctuating volumes, we’re a digital-first business and our model allows us to scale on a per job basis.
Over our four years of operation we’ve built a culture with change at its core so our team is well versed in adapting which has been a god-send during this time.
We also brought on additional staff to handle the enquiries and load across the business. We have set up a purpose-built contact centre in Sydney. It is now still running and employing over 15 people off the back of Covid-19.
Has Smart Energy’s processes changed at all due to Covid-19?
We promptly implemented a contactless installation policy to keep everyone safe whereby our installers had no contact at all with customers. We also rolled out ongoing communications to staff and contractors about safety precautions to ensure we were aligned with state-based restrictions.
Because we’ve been a tech-led business and work from the Cloud, we have always had a working from home policy so our staff were able to adapt quite seamlessly. Even before Covid-19 we’ve been collaborating with suppliers using Trello and Asana, and have kept our employees engaged with regular contact with Slack and Zoom.
How has covid-19 influenced Smart Energy’s ambitions?
COVID has really shown us how far Australia has come with our education on solar, and we also saw quite a change in the way people are buying solar. Before Covid-19, we had been testing new ways for our customers to purchase online and over the phone, whilst still utilising field specialists with our customers purchasing in-home.
We’ve seen a huge shift in purchasing behaviour with customers more willing to order online and over the phone. It’s really exciting.
What does Smart Energy offer to people thinking of taking up rooftop solar that might help to push them over the line?
One of our growth pillars is how we add value for our customers. One of the ways is through our Smart Savings Plan which allows customers to have solar installed with no upfront cost and the savings the system generates can be used to pay off the system. We also have panels on the roof within three weeks which is well above industry norm and we have a full service customer care offering called Smart Care. We’ve got 24/7 technical support and free energy plan analysis, and a three, six, and twelve month check up for all our customers to ensure everything is running how it should be.
One of the ways is through our Smart Savings Plan which allows customers to have solar installed with no upfront cost and the savings the system generates can be used to pay off the system.
What does the future hold for Smart Energy and solar in Australia?
We’re seeing record numbers of solar as a country so it’s a really exciting time for the industry. As for Smart Energy, right now we’re bouncing back to pre-Covid-19 volumes and focused on continuing to build a sustainable business to service even more customers across Australia. We’ve also expanded our battery offering and have had a great response from new and existing customers.
As for the future, we’re still on our path to being a full service energy provider. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes on something really exciting so stay tuned.
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