Accelerating Mobile App Development
Isaksen Solar designs, installs, and services solar systems for residential and commercial properties in the New England area.
Isaksen Solar, founded in 2017 by two former Tesla employees, offers robust solar services to the New England area. Their team prides themselves on their great service, local relationships and giving back to the community they grew up.
Isaksen Solar had established themselves in the local New England as the go-to solar roof company, but had no Isaksen-branded technology to offer their customers that would reinforce their offering. Their existing customers were using a different technology provider’s app to view their solar power production, leaving ample opportunity for improvement in the way their customers accessed their data.
Despite not having many branded touch-points in their customer experience, Isaksen Solar was in a prime position to grow due to the increased interest in their local area and was looking for a Salesforce partner who could help them overcome their challenges with custom technology.
Bring a Mobile App to Market in Under 4 Months
We hosted mini workshop sessions to understand Isaksen’s existing business model and dig deeper into the challenges they were looking to solve. We learned important details, such as what made their business unique in comparison to their competitors and how their customers would benefit from different potential features.
From there, our team built a technology roadmap that would help Isaksen bring a minimum viable product (MVP) to market quickly, which would help them recover their customers’ engagement.
After getting the green light from the Isaksen team, our work together officially kicked off in February 2021. Our team is passionate about creating modern and engaging mobile experiences, and the Isaksen Solar app was exactly that —a customized experience delivering solar energy production metrics in a clean, visually appealing interface.
We submitted the MVP to the app store on May 10th, which was quickly approved and Isaksen Solar’s customers could begin downloading the app to their phones to access their power production metrics, submit referrals, and manage their account.
The Isaksen Solar team was losing the opportunity to engage their customers every day that they didn’t have a mobile app, so speed to market was an important factor when selecting the technology stack for Isaksen’s mobile app. We picked the following best-in-class technologies that would help us develop efficiently, while allowing us to focus on the user experience.
By using Heroku, we didn’t need to spend months on DevOps and could focus all our energy on making the best application possible. Heroku has the best DevOps engineers in the world that ensure top-notch availability, security, and scalability for our infrastructure.
Heroku gives us the ability to seamlessly integrate with Salesforce CRM through Heroku Connect. This feature makes it possible to push user data from the mobile app into Salesforce CRM and vice versa, maintaining a single source of truth for customer data. This easy integration saved time on back-end development so that the team could put their effort into building value-add features for Isaksen’s customers.
We used a PostgreSQL database to store the data mirrored from Salesforce by Heroku Connect in addition to transaction records from the app.
The Isaksen Solar team was using Salesforce CRM, so this shaped a number of our technology decisions to ensure our choices integrated correctly with Salesforce CRM, such as mapping records and maintaining a single-source of truth for customer data.
Ionic allows for easy cross-platform development with modern tooling and the ability to reuse code, making it possible to create native apps for both iOS and Android nearly 2-3 times faster than the time it would take to develop natively for each platform. This approach made it possible to bring Isaksen’s mobile app to market in less than three months, from contract signature to app store approval.
SolarEdge is the manufacturer of the solar system components that Isaksen Solar uses for their customers. We integrated the Isaksen Solar app with SolarEdge’s API to provide customers with production and usage metrics for their account, creating a fully customized user experience.
OneSignal was our choice of technology to manage mobile push notifications and in-app messaging. Integrating with OneSignal gave us the ability to:
- Define personalized push notifications in Salesforce and route them to a specific user on all of their devices
- Provide unique onboarding experiences for iOS and Android users
- Display in-app welcome messages and notifications that are shown based on configurable preconditions
- Monitor app usage and manage engagement campaigns
- Track engagement of individual users with push notifications and in-app messages
Ruby on Rails
Ruby is characterized as the most human-friendly programming language, and Ruby on Rails falls in line with this doctrine by planting a stake in the ground as the easiest web application framework to develop on. This means it is easier to maintain and change the code over time. It also provides us with:
- Stable framework (10+ years in existence)
- Faster development
- Convention over configuration, leading to consistently good code
Our team specializes in developing with React.js, and we’ve built our own tooling to help accelerate the application development process. React has a vibrant community of libraries to help accelerate the project, and the framework leans on plain JS instead of library-specific DSL, making the codebase less dependent on the framework.
Mobile App Features
Mobile Push Notifications for Enhanced Communication
Isaksen can create a Push Notification in Salesforce and enroll customers using Salesforce Process Builder, or they can manually create Push Notification Enrollments in Salesforce. This allows Isaksen to send a push notification out to all customers that meet certain criteria within Salesforce.
Customers can register for the mobile app using their email address and clicking a confirmation link sent to their email (and it must match the customer record in Salesforce). Customers can also login with password or email verification if the authentication fails.
A Customized Dashboard of Energy Production Metrics
Customers can view a chart of their solar panel energy production and energy usage inside of the mobile app, which is possible due to the API integration with SolarEdge. Customers can also modify the time parameters of the chart by clicking day, week, month, and quarter to review their data.
Customers can see and access their Isaksen Solar documents within the app. Isaksen Solar’s team can upload and manage the documents associated with a customer via Box.
Customers can send referrals to the Isaksen Solar team with the functionality built into the mobile app, allowing them to share the referral’s details via any communication app on their phone (i.e. iMessage, Slack, Facebook, Twitter) or a unique link tied to their account, allowing customers to track the status of their referrals.
By using a combination of the most human-friendly and efficient technologies, we were able to help Isaksen Solar bring their mobile app to market in under 4 months. The next phase of the project will be to build in-app push notifications and in-app messaging to improve the user onboarding process. This will also improve Isaksen’s ability to connect with their customers on a more personal level, creating stronger brand advocates and a more enjoyable customer experience. The adoption of Isaksen’s new app has been growing over the last few months, and we look forward to continuing our work together to iterate on the app’s user experience to better meet the needs of Isaksen Solar and their customers.
Average User Retention
More than 85% of the users who download the app are still using it 3 months later
Average Session Duration
Users spend more than 2 minutes on the app each day reviewing their solar production data.
Increase in Referrals
We released a new version of Isaksen's app in April 2022, driving a drastic 2.5x increase in app-based referrals.
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