By Jason Reynolds
More and more small business owners across Jacksonville are making Wi-Fi available to their customers. As you might expect, these tech-savvy businesses across the First Coast include restaurants and coffee shops. But they also include doctors’ offices, vehicle repair shops, bookstores, hair salons, and car dealerships—in fact, every kind of small, main street business where customers might have to wait for service or want to linger awhile.
A recent Comcast Business survey of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) on LinkedIn found that the overwhelming majority, 79 percent, offer free Wi-Fi for their customers. Another three percent said they didn’t yet, but are planning to add the feature soon. Almost all of those who responded, 97 percent, said they offered the service to improve customer satisfaction.
These small businesses are making Wi-Fi available to their customers because it’s a strategic move that differentiates them from their competitors. For example, now that they offer Wi-Fi, many businesses promote themselves as locations where social groups and sports clubs can hold meetings. This role as an important community hub boosts the businesses’ standings among residents, which can in turn increase their customer bases.
Many businesses also see increased revenue when they offer Wi-Fi. According to a recent Comcast-sponsored survey of small businesses across the United States, Wi-Fi encourages repeat customer business, attracts new customers, and leads to higher sales per customer visit.
Such increased revenue is easy to understand when you consider that more people are choosing to spend an extra hour over coffee or lunch or deciding to return to a particular oil-change shop to take advantage of the Wi-Fi connection. When they stay longer, or return more often, they spend more on a business’s products and services.
Businesses are also finding that providing free Wi-Fi gives them the opportunity to do something extra for their customers—help them stay connected. Whether they are businesspeople, teenagers, or parents with young children, customers today want to stay connected while they wait. And like everyone in today’s data-centric society, they like saving money by using a business’s free Wi-Fi versus running up the tab of their own wireless data service. In fact, according to the Comcast-sponsored survey, Wi-Fi is equally or more effective in making customers feel welcomed and comfortable while waiting than magazines, free bottled water, or even free candy.
Having two separate Wi-Fi networks—one for patients or customers, and one for securely running the business’s operations—is becoming particularly common. Customers get their own network with enough bandwidth to use their wireless devices the way they want while they wait, and the business gets a secure network that ensures its operations are safe and private.
Whether they have two networks or just one for their customers, small businesses are finding that Wi-Fi is a great way to enhance their reputation in the community, increase revenue, and offer their customers a service that’s in demand.
Jason Reynolds is the Director of Business Services for Comcast in North Florida. Comcast Business provides communications services, including high-speed internet, cable and digital voice services, to companies of all sizes across the region.