When disaster strikes, we often realize too late how much we take technology for granted. One of those technologies we have to fall back on is Wi-Fi so we can reach loved ones with our mobile devices. With Hurricane Irma about to hit Florida at the time of this writing, Wi-Fi could become a critical element in helping people stay communicated.
When Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey, power was out for days. The grocery stores, cafes and restaurants that were open and which offered Wi-Fi became a haven for the community. Whether it was a chance to catch up and post on Facebook or utilize pages to connect with missing friends, we have become more and more dependent upon the Internet. It was certainly that way with Hurricane Harvey in Texas thanks to Wi-Fi hotspots being available for crisis communication. In fact, companies like Comcast set up 53,000 Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the Houston area.
If you offer free guest Wi-Fi in your business, should you offer it during times of disaster? You'll discover how much this technology becomes a public service when the worst possible disasters hit.
Here's how you can help your customers.
Offering a Safe Haven During Hurricanes and Other Disasters
Nature is certainly volatile, and a natural disaster could strike anywhere in the U.S, at any time. Even if you don't live in hurricane country, disasters come in many shapes and forms both natural and man made. Offering Captive Portal Wi-Fi in your restaurant or business can be vital for the community.
If you don't normally get hurricanes, any other disaster could mean a flood, an earthquake, a tornado, a major snowstorm, or even a prolonged heatwave.
Any of these could result in power outages, and with no electricity to thousands of local citizens. Without the ability to charge phones or log online to their home router, communication with their loved ones can be compromised. It could prove a gut-wrenching personal disaster as much as a natural one.
Offering Wi-Fi at your business during disasters creates a safe haven where locals can use your free service to touch bases with their family members, report outages and stay in touch.
It's not always about communicating with family members when a disaster occurs. Many may have to contact emergency personnel about their homes, or about a personal medical issue. Allowing these people in your business should become a top priority to keep them safe from the outdoor elements.
One thing you can count on: When you offer a free Wi-Fi hotspot, the people who use it will never forget your generosity. Allowing them to use your network to let family and friends know they're OK puts you on the map as a stellar member of your community.
Once everything returns to normal, you'll likely gain loyal new customers as a result.
Not Worrying About the Bottom Line
Those of you hit by Hurricane Irma in Florida probably aren't thinking about the bottom line in your business. What's important is to put yourself in the frame of mind mentioned above and offer Wi-Fi as a public service.
When you do, you'll be immediately recognized in the community, which is only going to help your business after rebuilding begins. Even if it's challenging to make good decisions during the worst possible moments, you'll never regret offering free Wi-Fi.
It's already a good competitive bet since many of your competitors may not bother to invest in free Wi-Fi for customers. Their lack of foresight may cost them even more now if they still don't offer Wi-Fi.
Finding a Reliable Wi-Fi Provider
Those of you who already have Wi-Fi should assure customers the service you provide is reliable. Take time to check your own Wi-Fi network now so you'll know that if a future disaster strikes, you won't have sudden network dropouts.
This may require having to change providers to receive the best possible service. If you do, it pays to add other services to your Wi-Fi plan, including using a captive portal to gather data on your customers.
Using this later when grateful customers return can help you give continually better customer service. Plus, you'll be able to provide products you know they'll want.
Visit us at Bloom Intelligence where we can offer reliable Wi-Fi access points for data gathering and for use during disasters. We'll be there to offer dependable service in the worst scenarios.