Offering free Wi-Fi to your customers is not only an excellent benefit that can encourage loyal patronage, it may even be expected in some industries. Although the availability of free Wi-Fi can help grow your business, this perk may work against you if it reduces your customers’ experience. To ensure the Wi-Fi you offer is being received as a positive incentive, it is important to be aware of the many ways a free connection can be hindering your sales.
Make Sure Your Connection Is Strong
Consumers today expect fast and reliable internet connectivity and can easily become frustrated if their Wi-Fi connection, wherever it may be, isn’t living up to their expectations. A slow connection with regular service interruptions can frustrate your customers. Not only can this give your company the reputation of being unprofessional, defeating the purpose of your offering, but irritated customers are less likely to spend their hard-earned money with you. To ensure a fast and reliable connection, make sure to consider some of the common pitfalls listed below that can affect a Wi-Fi network’s performance and stability.
Monitor Network Health
Your wireless offering can only be as strong as your wired network, so take the time to ensure your LAN cabling is installed correctly and in good working order. Perform periodic diagnostic tests and attend to any maintenance issues promptly. Old cables can be replaced to improve network health, loose connections should be secured, and it’s a good idea to ensure all wiring is protected from accidental damage or disconnection and kept out of sight.
Consider Your Access Points
Check the locations of your access points and make sure they are in a position for optimal performance. Incorrect channel settings and interference sources can severely impact your connection speed and reliability. Remember that more access points do not necessarily improve Wi-Fi performance, as access points may interfere with each other and degrade your network throughput.
Conducting a wireless site survey, sometimes called an RF (Radio Frequency) site survey can ensure that your wireless coverage is sufficient (all locations where your customers may use your Wi-Fi have good connectivity), and data rates, network capacity, and roaming capabilities are sufficient to ensure good user experience. Such a wireless site survey will determine the optimum locations and settings for your Wi-Fi access points
Monitor Capacity Needs
If your Wi-Fi offering proves to be popular, you need to remember that increased usage may reduce your Wi-Fi performance. With more users connecting than the network can support, performance will suffer if the network has not been designed to allow sufficient growth in your user base. It may be necessary to upgrade your network to support heavier traffic. Monitoring your network usage will help to deal with these changes.
Keep Your Connection Secure
Many people who connect to public Wi-Fi sources use their mobile devices, and these devices carry a significant amount of personal information. The security of this user information should be treated with the same level of security that you would treat your own business information. Make sure to install the latest firmware updates to keep security features current, and consider having an IT network security specialist review your network security.
Always make sure to keep your public Wi-Fi separate from the corporate network used by your employees. Hackers may be attracted via a public route into your company’s network, exposing your business’ client and employee information.
Offer Wi-Fi Use Exclusively to Your Customers
The use of your free Wi-Fi network should be a perk offered exclusively to your customers; otherwise, it loses its value. A simple solution to this is requiring a password that changes daily, given only to those you do business with. This prevents your Wi-Fi from being accessed by anyone on the street, bogging down your connection and ruining the experience for your customers.
Consider Imposing a Time Limit
The purpose of offering free Wi-Fi is to encourage more potential customers to patronize your business. However, customers who spend a long time accessing your free Wi-Fi could take up space meant for new customers. Setting a reasonable time limit allows each of your customers the opportunity to use your Wi-Fi while ensuring they continue to add to your sales volume. This also reduces the impact of those looking for a free Wi-Fi connection without purchasing anything.
Offering free Wi-Fi is an excellent way to show your customers how much you appreciate them, but a poor connection experience could have the opposite effect. To get the most out of your Wi-Fi investment, make sure the connection you offer is fast, reliable and secure, offer it exclusively to your customers and limit the amount of time clients can remain connected. For advice on how to set up a free Wi-Fi connection for your customers, on how to improve your current Wi-Fi setup, our dedicated IT professionals at Eire Systems are available to help. Contact one of our offices today to find out how we can help.