By Patricia Hume, Chief Operations Officer at iPass
Despite hype around 5G networks and increased data allowances included in our monthly mobile plans, we still prefer accessing information and staying connected via Wi-Fi. This continuing demand is clearly demonstrated by the recent string of connectivity projects bringing Wi-Fi to the general public. From BT’s continued dedication to rolling out its Wi-Fi kiosks nationwide, to unprecedented Wi-Fi use logged by Transport for London on the London Underground – demand for Wi-Fi clearly isn’t going away anytime soon. As a result, organisations across the globe are keen to benefit from this, by offering free Wi-Fi access to drive customer loyalty.
How Wi-Fi drives customer loyalty
Offering Wi-Fi access as a customer perk or as part of a loyalty package is a growing trend seen everywhere from high street fashion chains to train companies. These types of programmes have been highly successful, because Wi-Fi is still extremely highly valued by consumers, as it makes it possible to download data-heavy content and access internet-enabled services for free. And free Wi-Fi is no longer just a coffee-shop phenomenon; businesses that are not tied to a single location have started to drive brand loyalty by offering Wi-Fi access in popular public locations.
There are many examples out there of this growing trend of using Wi-Fi as an asset, with an increasing number of brands now providing customers access to global Wi-Fi networks on-the-go, often as part of their premium service. For example, device manufacturers are bolting on free access to global Wi-Fi hotspots to customers when they purchase laptops and tablets. The idea is that this incentivises them to buy their product rather than one from a competitor. High street banks are also offering Wi-Fi to customers opting for premium card deals. This is intended as an incentive for consumers and, it is hoped, will ultimately drive positive sentiment toward the company for providing a good range of perks.
Airlines are also looking to bolster their customer relationships through offering Wi-Fi access, with studies finding that inflight Wi-Fi is commonly regarded as being a key driver in fostering customer loyalty and satisfaction among today’s airline passengers. Offering free, no-frills Wi-Fi alongside premium, high-speed subscription packages to frequent fliers is clearly being seen as a way to give the brand a boost and stand out against competition. There are now a number of Wi-Fi loyalty programmes being introduced by businesses across all sectors, all with an aim to keep customers connected, content and, most importantly, coming back for more.
Harnessing your Wi-Fi data
When it comes to the benefits to be had from providing free Wi-Fi, a stronger brand and more loyal customers is only the tip of the iceberg. Once customers have used your service to connect to Wi-Fi and continue to connect on a regular basis, it’s also possible to use the data gathered to better understand customer behaviour. This additional insight can be used in a variety of ways, but ultimately can lead to improved, more personalised services. Businesses that can tap into data derived from real-time customer behaviour are making significant strides in mapping their customers and their habits, which in turn enables these companies to tailor the ways they engage with consumers or uncover new business or partnership opportunities.
The increasing availability of Wi-Fi and the insights its usage data can provide can be a hugely disruptive tool for businesses. For example, applying anonymised information about customer location and habits to future sales and marketing strategies can be invaluable for brands. In the retail industry, tracking consumer Wi-Fi usage in-store is helping generate offers specifically tailored to the customer need, and even providing location data that better establishes where certain items should be located on the shop floor based on how consumers move around the space.
Loyalty programmes and advertising campaigns that do not align with customer expectations of a brand, or that simply bombard customers with content, no longer work. Companies must provide relevant, in-context content – delivering the right message, at the right time and in the right location to engage users with the brand in a way that resonates.
Get ahead of the competition
For businesses looking to drive customer loyalty and gain a range of invaluable business insights, Wi-Fi is still a largely untapped resource. Many companies have yet to fully appreciate the benefits on offer, for improved customer loyalty but also in terms using the data gathered to develop customer insights, targeting strategies and measurement solutions. Personalising the customer experience should be at the top of every company’s agenda and, through using Wi-Fi, businesses cannot only make customers feel valued but also increase the likelihood of them coming back for more as a result.