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Survey says that Atlantans prefer Wi-Fi to chocolate

Businesses find that Atlantans want free Wi-Fi
Businesses find that Atlantans want free Wi-FiBredin Research

I know the headline above is catchy and it's meant to be shocking, but as with any great headline, there are lessons to be learned.

In a survey conducted by Bredin Research and sponsored by Comcast Business, it was determined that free Wi-Fi offered by a business works better at keeping customers content than the usual “waiting area” offerings like candy, water or magazines. On the surface, I have to agree. Every two months or so, when I take my wife's vehicle to a car dealership for an oil change, I love the free Wi-Fi and usually don't even indulge in the free drinks and granola bars that are available in the waiting room.

“Main Street businesses and entrepreneurs of all types recognize that wireless Internet access is a must for their patrons, and that providing free Wi-Fi can give them a competitive edge,” says Bill Stemper, president, Comcast Business. “More and more, we are seeing that if a business provides Wi-Fi now to its employees for business purposes, extending access to its customers is a logical next step that is a way to keep them coming back in the future. Given the challenges that small businesses face in today’s uncertain economy, we are encouraged that technologies like Wi-Fi will help sustain growth.”

It was also discovered that businesses that don't currently offer free Wi-Fi know they need to do so, in the future.

Per Bredin Research, here are some of the survey's findings:

The key survey findings are:

- Wi-Fi helps draw customers. Nearly eight in 10 U.S. businesses offering Wi-Fi (79%) say it has raised customer satisfaction, and 67% report it has encouraged repeat business. In Atlanta, Wi-Fi has been particularly important for improving service, with 94% of business owners saying it has enhanced the customer experience.

- Providing access a competitive necessity. The majority of business owners recognize the importance of Wi-Fi to staying competitive, with three-quarters calling it “a necessity.” Atlanta business owners were particularly inclined to see these advantages — 83% say offering Wi-Fi has helped them keep up with competitors.

- Wi-Fi is better than chocolate. The majority of business owners nationally said Wi-Fi is as or more effective than other amenities at making patrons feel welcome. Atlanta respondents agreed, calling Wi-Fi as or more effective than magazines (100%), water (92%) and candy (84%).

- Promoting Wi-Fi pays off. Like their counterparts elsewhere in the U.S., more than six in 10 (64%) of Atlanta business owners that offer Wi-Fi actively promote it. This promotion works: 87% of Atlanta respondents say customers come in looking for Wi-Fi.

- Businesses connect a range of devices. Atlanta businesses that use Wi-Fi for business purposes connect equipment to their networks including computers (100%) and printers and copiers (71%). Compared with their counterparts throughout the U.S., Atlanta respondents were more likely to connect tablets (61% vs. 50%) and credit card terminals (45% vs. 33%).

The lesson here is that customers want and many times need Wi-Fi. Why not give customers and patrons what they desire. Comcast Business can help businesses with this, so give it a look.

This survey was conducted online among a representative sample of 602 principals and IT decision makers at companies with 1 to 100 employees in the United States between Dec. 18 and Dec. 31, 2013. The survey will have a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.