Digital Media

Is Free Wi-Fi the New Competitive Advantage?

Loyalty programs have become a regular staple in the retention strategies of most Nigerian businesses – whether big or small. Yet, the bulk of customers, especially those of a service business, want much more than the momentary appeal of coupon codes and loyalty points. In a world where consumers are bombarded with a flurry of product options at neck-breaking speed, brand loyalty can seem like a camel passing through the eye of a needle.
But businesses that differentiate themselves from the competition often stand a better chance of rewriting the rules of the game, eventually grabbing a substantial share of the market. So, apart from offering generic incentives as a way to shore up loyalty, businesses could raise the stakes a few notches higher by offering a critical and sustainable solution to the customer at no extra cost.
Today, for instance, discerning businesses are fast hopping on the free Wi-Fi train, a model that has already influenced about 49% of business and leisure travelers to choose one hotel over another. This shift in brand preference is not peculiar to the hospitality industry alone. In 2015, a joint survey by Air Tight Networks and IHL Group, showed that 27.5% of retailers saw a significant spike in repeat purchases and rising loyalty levels due to the deployment of free, in-store Wi-Fi service.
Nigeria, despite ranking number one in internet affordability in the 2018 Inclusive Internet Index by The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), broadband access remains a luxury for many people and businesses who rely on broadband connectivity to meet both personal and business obligations.
Why You Should Offer Free Wi-Fi to Customers
For businesses in the service segments, especially restaurants, lounges, bars and merchant locations, moving a customer from a fickle fan to a die-hard follower can seem daunting, considering the plenitude of options and competitive offerings that are always available to the customer. But a clearly articulated retention strategy that zooms the lenses on meeting the consumer’s intrinsic needs can be a game changer.
For most consumers, particularly Generation X and Millennials, the availability of a Free Wi-Fi service at a favorite hangout location remains the perfect icing on the cake – one which not only guarantees a sense of satisfaction, but one likely to prompt several comebacks. Executed correctly, as seen in the hundreds of businesses that have embraced free Wi-Fi offering, this incentive remains a sure-fire way to grow footfalls, exceed customers’ expectations and improve retention.
Against the age-long notion of what influences buying behavior, customer experience is racing fast to outpace price as the single most essential differentiator in the marketing mix. According to a 2017 study by Gartner Inc, a world’s leading research and advisory firm and member of the S&P 500, customer experience is the new battleground where a brand either fortifies its competitive advantage to stay relevant or become weakened by the realities of the external environment, including changing customer expectations.
In 2014, research by one of the world’s largest Wi-Fi service platforms, Devicescape, showed that 62% of customer-facing businesses recorded a significant growth in foot traffic and higher customer spending, following their introduction of a complimentary Wi-Fi service to the customers.
“The survey results show how important the provision of customer-facing Wi-Fi has become for retail businesses. The availability of Wi-Fi is no longer an innovation limited to the large retail chains—small businesses are now offering the same services in their establishments, for both employees and customers. In the near future, small businesses will consider Wi-Fi as fundamental to their success as electricity or running water,” iGR founder and President Iain Gillott said in his reaction to the study.
The Red Cheetah Advantage
In March this year, lovers of fast and reliable internet services woke up to the launch of Red Cheetah Free Wi-Fi in Lagos, a digital lifestyle offering from the stable of SWIFT Networks Limited. The service, which is currently available at over 400 top locations, including Barcelos, Hard Rock Cafe, Tastee Fried Chicken, Sweet sensation, SLOT, 3CHub, amongst others, aims to reach an initial 10,000 locations across Lagos in the short term.
Supported by advertising revenue from leading partners and global brands, many Nigerian businesses have found the platform an indispensable tool for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of SWIFT Networks Limited, Mr. Charles Anudu, urged Nigerian businesses to maximize the Free Wi-Fi service as a valuable incentive to drive customer retention and improve the bottom-line.
“As a critical enabler of economic growth and access to opportunities, we believe that brands that embrace Red Cheetah will take the early lead in distinguishing themselves and ultimately be the biggest winners in the race for the heart and loyalty of the millennial customer,” he stated.