Most Customers Expect Free WiFi: Survey

Time Warner Cable Business Class, amplifying the recent findings of Comcast Business, said 80% of small business owners it surveyed believe that customers expect free WiFi, and also rank WiFi as a top way to attract customers.

The survey, which queried 200 small business owners and decision makers at U.S. organizations with as many as 24 employees, also found that just 43% of businesses offer WiFi to their patrons, even though the wireless technology is viewed as a good way to boost customer satisfaction and to grow their businesses.

The TWC Business Class survey, released in tandem with the kickoff of National Small Business Week, also exposed other technology gaps among small business owners, finding that 41% do not use a Web site in their day-to-day business, while 54% aren’t using social media to promote their services.

While most businesses evaluate their tech needs bi-annually or annually, 33% of those surveyed said they have been negatively affected by outdated technology, and 35% are fixing tech problems on their own.

Overall, the survey found that the top “must have” services for small business are fast, reliable internet access; clear, reliable phone service; and reliable WiFi service at their business location, according to Satyanarayana Parimi, TWC’s group vice president, product management.

The cable industry has been seizing on this opportunity by beefing up and expanding service offerings tailored to businesses. The category is now a major growth engine for cable. U.S. cable providers generated about $8.5 billion in commercial-services revenue last year, up from about $7 billion in 2012, and are on pace to reach $10 billion in 2014, according to Heavy Reading’s latest forecast.

"In order for small businesses to perform at their best, they need to use technology productively," said Maureen Link, group vice president, small business, Time Warner Cable Business Class, in a statement.  "Whether it’s a restaurant providing WiFi to meet customer expectations, or a printing company using social media to reach new customers, technology provides the means for businesses to help their bottom line.”

Separately, TWCBC introduced new features for its Business Class Phone offering, including a mobility package for on-the-go users that cooks in features such as simultaneous ring, sequential ring, and a “personal attendant” that enables the user to be reached by customers and business associates regardless of location.