Some say home is wherever your Wi-Fi automatically connects, but it’s also a pivotal tool to business success.
A recent national survey of entrepreneurs and small business IT decision makers finds that offering free Wi-Fi works better at keeping customers happy than common “waiting area” conveniences like candy, water or magazines. In fact, businesses such as coffee shops, bars, restaurants, retailers and doctor’s offices are leveraging the service to attract new clientele, improve customer loyalty and raise their profile within the community.
Six key learnings from the study include:
- Wi-Fi is better than candy. Main Street business owners say Wi-Fi is equally or more effective at making patrons feel welcome than other amenities such as magazines (94%), community bulletin boards (91%), candy (90%) or water (86%).
- Wi-Fi helps draw customers. Nearly eight in 10 businesses offering Wi-Fi (79%) say it helps keep customers happy while they wait. 65% report it has encouraged repeat business, and 55% say it has brought in new customers.
- Wi-Fi helps sales. More than half (55%) of businesses providing Wi-Fi believe it has resulted in higher sales per customer visit.
- Promoting Wi-Fi is key. Those businesses that expected increased revenues in 2013 are more likely to promote the Wi-Fi they offer (64% vs. 38% of businesses that expected decreased revenues). In turn, customers are more likely to promote these businesses through their social media channels.
- Wi-Fi builds connections. Nearly 20% of the business owners surveyed promote themselves as "community hubs," such as a meeting place for church groups, sports clubs or other community groups.
- Businesses with Wi-Fi boost productivity. Separate from offering Wi-Fi to patrons, respondents’ employees use Wi-Fi for business purposes such as accessing corporate resources (49%), tracking inventory (36%) and holding conferences with business partners and customers (35%). 93% of these businesses believe that Wi-Fi enhances productivity. Companies with growing revenue were more likely than non-growing companies to use Wi-Fi as a customer amenity.