When Guest WiFi Is Unusable, What's the Point?
by Joe Michalowski on

What would happen if we woke up tomorrow and WiFi didn’t exist anymore? It would take some getting used to, for sure. You could fall back on your carrier’s mobile service, but it’s not quite the same as the comfort of your personal WiFi network.

For years now, proposals have surfaced about the possibility of universal, free WiFi. It sounds great in theory, but it’s clear that we have a long way to go before nationwide WiFi is a reality.

Instead, when we leave the comfort of our home WiFi networks, we have to rely on the guest networks of brick-and-mortar retail shops, hotels and other remote offices.

From the IT perspective, the guest WiFi conversation becomes more complicated. You have to implement it and then support it in your company’s remote locations—but if it’s unusable, what’s the point? If it’s not working well all the time, you’ll soon hear from customers and users with complaints.

Is It Possible to Meet Guest WiFi Expectations? 

Because we rely so heavily on WiFi networks, we tend to take them for granted. We expect them to be 100% available and offer high-speed service. However, priorities are very different for IT leaders deploying in-house WiFi as opposed to guest WiFi at remote locations.

There’s a clear business need for in-house WiFi—without it, your employees won’t get any work done. For guest WiFi, the customer experience benefits are more abstract. Regardless, it’s been clear for years that customers expect an available WiFi network when they visit your branch or remote offices.

The distinction to keep in mind is that remote guests don’t just expect WiFi—they expect good WiFi. And that’s the problem for IT leaders. It feels like there are so many more important tasks to deal with than to ensure a guest WiFi network exceeds customer expectations.

You might cut your losses and say guest WiFi is unnecessary, but business leaders won’t accept this kind of customer experience sacrifice. You can meet the demand for guest WiFi. You just need the right approach.

Follow the Hotel Industry’s Guest WiFi Lead

 The hotel industry faces some of the most intense scrutiny with regards to guest WiFi networks. In fact, surveys show that WiFi service is second only to cost when economy travelers are choosing a hotel.

It’s easy to say that if you just deploy an abundance of top-of-the-line routers and guarantee bandwidth availability, your guest WiFi experience will be perfect. But this comes at a cost few companies can afford.

In reality, you’re likely dealing with legacy equipment that is pushed to its limits. To get more out of this infrastructure, you can lean on QoS enforcement policies and make sure bandwidth is saved for typical tasks as opposed to a guest trying to download movies.

If you’re essentially starting from nothing, you can take a page out of the Red Roof Inn book to establish a quality guest WiFi service. They’ve made a commitment to upgrading WiFi infrastructure and expect a return on investment based on quality customer experiences. Retailers and standard business offices alike can take this same mindset so guest networks don’t feel so unusable anymore.

Part of guaranteeing high-quality guest WiFi is being able to get into the user’s shoes and experience the performance for yourself. One of our retail customers has found great success monitoring their stores with AppNeta.

“With AppNeta, we can now log on to a specific guest network the same way a customer in the store would and experience from their perspective, which we haven’t been able to do with any other tool out there.”Paul Crist, Network Services Manager at Bon-Ton

If you want to learn more about resolving remote location problems, download our free white paper, 6 Steps for IT Troubleshooting at Remote Locations.

Filed Under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

Tags: remote locations , WIFI , WIFI monitoring