Three Considerations for Managing Your Business’s WiFi

Take charge of customer and employee access to your wireless network.

November/December 2016

WiFi has become a critical component of many businesses’ operations, from customer experience to employee productivity. In fact, 62% of businesses report that customers spend more time in their facility when WiFi is offered, and a recent study found a link between ability to work using mobile devices within a workplace and an increase in employee engagement.

However, there are a few considerations to weigh before you let others dive into your business’s broadband dataflow.

Be the boss of the WiFi

While you want to give customers a way to keep their mobile devices connected during their time spent doing business with you, there should be reasonable limits in place. There are systems specially designed to accommodate guests on a wireless network, while keeping them from getting access to company data and sensitive systems. Martha Behrend, senior product marketing manager for internet, wireless and evolving products with Charter Communications, says hotspots are intended for such guest access. Hotspots create a separation between companies’ business operations and the wireless access they offer to their customers, she says.

Establish limits

The more devices on the network, the slower your internet connection will be. If you find there are too many devices connecting through one WiFi connection, adding a controller—a device that directs or regulates traffic on the wireless network—can help you manage bandwidth usage and the devices that have access to your network. Without setting these limits, people can rampantly milk your broadband service to stream movies and other data-heavy content.

The key is to set reasonable usage parameters. Many routers allow you to set up a captive portal, or sign-on page, which requires your customers to agree to your Terms of Service before logging on to your internet. The terms of use could include limits on video streaming and other activities that require a lot of bandwidth. Keep in mind that too many restrictions can be frustrating for users and will ultimately create a negative customer experience, as well as impact employee productivity. If, after you’ve set reasonable limits, you find bandwidth usage is still high, you may want to consider having separate network access for employee use, customer use and your own use.

Maximize marketing opportunities

Behrend says that having a WiFi hotspot creates different types of opportunities to interact with clientele. “Businesses can add their logos and a marketing message and direct customers to their website once they’ve signed in,” she says.

Some routers and WiFi plans enable you to create a portal that requires users to sign on to access the internet in your business. This offers a unique opportunity to speak directly to customers through advertising, promotions or special offers on the page.

These WiFi sign-on portals are also a way to gather customer data. For example, you can request email addresses as part of the sign-in information and create targeted marketing lists. Or, push time-sensitive coupons to customers logged on to your network.

The bottom line is that WiFi access has become an expected amenity. By setting limits and maximizing the opportunities, WiFi can help you win customer loyalty and improve employee productivity.

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Top Takeaway

Just like on-site signage and brochures, you can leverage your customers’ on-site WiFi access to promote products, push offers or send surveys.