Connect your customers

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Don't give your customers a reason to say no. As time passes more and more reasons have become immediate dealbreakers. The very first was a sanitary storefront, a few generations later it was air conditioning, then public bathrooms, and slowly but surely “cash only” signs became public advertisements for “we don't want your business.” Now there are plenty of other criteria that will cut off prospective customers, but in the era of constant connectivity free WiFi is becoming a new age requirement.

The security warnings of public WiFi have been broadcaster loud and frequent but the masses don't care. If you are a public facing business then you must consider offering either password protected or completely free WiFi to your customers.

For roughly the last decade coffee houses have been feeling this pinch. Instead of reading the paper and drinking a cup of joe, coffee patrons now sip and stare at their phones. Even with when enjoying some Java with company. It's the reason many choose Starbucks over mom & pop shops and that same corporate digital amenities versus small business care is starting to proliferate across industries.

Restaurants, bars, grocery stores, malls, automotive shops, even dentist's offices are now offering customer having WiFi. If your clientele is likely to spend a small portion of their day in your business, readily available free internet access is a modern must-have.

Now the cost for implementing a public WiFi system varies but there are important logistics to consider. The more devices riding a WiFi signal, the slower the bandwidth for all connected. So for a small enough business you could get away with a router and splitting your current internet connection into secured employee and open customer sides. However if your store services a dozen or more customers at a time, and they average more more than 20 minutes per visit, then you should probably look into establishing a second internet connection with two routers; one for customers and the other for employees so their internet speed didn't suffer from greedy customers.

Of course then comes security concerns. Should your customer WiFi be password protected? How about geo-restricted? Should you establish a splash page that requires users to logon and interact with branded messaging before hitting the open internet? Well mileage varies as to customer reaction to web access barriers but if setup properly these tools will allow you to track and monitor your customers in-store web activity. And in the time of big data and digital market analysis, a free expenditures on the front end may pay big in the long run.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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