It’s still National Small Business Week and you know what that means! Another survey sponsored by a large company that reveals that small businesses love, love, love, what the company provides. Today the company is Comcast and the survey reveals that small businesses providing free wi-fi to customers in their waiting rooms say those customers are happier than if they were given other things like free chocolate, free water or Pharrell Williams showing up to hand out free Yellow Labrador puppies.

Ironically, this is also the day when the FCC will issue the first-round of new guidelines that determine the future of an internet that provides all businesses, large or small, the opportunity to continue to have equal access to the internet — the concept called net neutrality or “the open internet” Doing away with the open internet would be something that would make Comcast really, really happy.

But, back to the survey.

Even though we always advise readers to question the science involved in such sponsored research, in this case, we can easily validate the findings of the survey. Is there anyone reading this now who doesn’t love free wi-fi? Heck, we’re guessing most of you who are reading it are using free wi-fi right now. Obviously we’ll give a thumbs up to this research.

(We quickly (and unscientifically) polled a few small business owners when we saw this research and one of them replied that something even better than providing free wi-fi to customers is having a large chain coffee shop next door that provides free wi-fi to their customers that “sort of drifts over” to their business. “That’s what I call really free wi-fi,” he joked. Or maybe he wasn’t joking?)

We suggest Comcast add more questions to next year’s survey. For example, they should ask small businesses if Gigabit-speed fiber networks with internet access speeds up to 100 times faster than most broadband users currently have would make their customers 100 times more happy than they are with current free wi-fi speeds.

We would be. Indeed, we’d be happy enough to drive several hours just to hang out in the waiting rooms of small businesses that offered free wi-fi at those speeds.

Below, find the Comcast infographic explaining how much small businesses think their customers love the free wi-fi they provide. The key survey findings include the following. Except for providing air to customers, apparently there’s nothing customers love better than free wi-fi. The only thing we wonder is why there’s a question mark at the end of the headline, an indication, according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, that Comcast might actually think chocolate makes customers happier than free wi-fi. (Or, ?)

  • Wi-fi is better than candy. Main Street business owners say wi-fi is equally or more effective at making patrons feel welcome than other amenities such as magazines (94%), community bulletin boards (91%), candy (90%) or water (86%).
  • Wi-fi helps draw customers. Nearly eight in 10 businesses offering wi-fi (79%) say it helps keep customers happy while they wait. 65% report it has encouraged repeat business, and 55% say it has brought in new customers.
  • Wi-fi helps sales. More than half (55%) of businesses providing wi-fi believe it has resulted in higher sales per customer visit.
  • Promoting wi-fi is key. Those businesses that expected increased revenues in 2013 are more likely to promote the wi-fi they offer (64% vs. 38% of businesses that expected decreased revenues). In turn, customers are more likely to promote these businesses through their social media channels.
  • Most customers would trade their family pets for free wi-fi. Okay, we made that one up.

(Click to see a gigantic version.)

chocolate or wifi?

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