How Guest WiFi Can Help with Contact Tracing

The COVID-19 pandemic has brick-and-mortar business owners struggling. With costly operational changes to make, concerns about the health of their staff and patrons, and a devastating drop in revenue, entrepreneurs are dealing with a flood of problems. Many are having trouble accomplishing all that will be required to get their businesses back on track.

That’s why some clients might have suspended their relationship with your agency. They’ll return, but only after their businesses get going again, and your agency can speed up the process.

Contact tracing can play a crucial role in getting your clients back in business. In this article, we’ll look at how clients’ guest WiFi can be used as a tool for contact tracing data collection.

What Is Contact Tracing?

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many governments around the world recommend that brick-and-mortar businesses conduct contact tracing, and in some places, the practice is mandatory. It’s a way for the businesses to contribute to ending the global pandemic.

When a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker will ask them who they’ve been in contact with and where they spent time while sick. If the person has been to your client’s establishment, the business owner may be asked to provide a list of people who were on the premises at the same time as the infected individual. Then, those contacts will be given education, information, and support to understand their risk and how to monitor themselves for illness.

The Ultimate Data Collection Tool Gets a New Job

When marketing is your goal, clients’ guest WiFi excels as a tool for customer data collection, and now you can put it to use in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The first thing to do is determine whether contact tracing is mandatory where your client’s business is located. If it is, the government will have specified exactly which pieces of personal data must be collected. If specific contact tracing data is not mandated, plan to collect the following pieces of data about each patron:

  • Full Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number 

Collecting that data from each customer manually, whether staff members jot down the details or enter them into a tablet, requires too much interaction between staff and patrons. A far superior alternative is to collect contact tracing data as part of the guest WiFi login process.

Signage and a verbal request from staff members can explain the policy to patrons: the establishment is collecting data for contact tracing purposes, and providing the data is a requirement for all patrons. After guests use the WiFi login screen to provide the required data, they’ll see a custom thank you page. 

You’ll have to change your privacy statement to include the new reason for collecting customer data, and you can prompt patrons to opt-in so that the data can also be used for marketing communications.

Collecting contact tracing data using guest WiFi is safer, more flexible, and more secure than other methods, as we’ll discuss below.

The Benefits of Using Guest WiFi for Contact Tracing

Manually interviewing patrons and writing down the contact tracing data creates several problems—it takes too long, it’s error-prone, and, at the end of the day, the collected data will probably have to be transferred to a more permanent and secure format. Even many digital solutions share most of those drawbacks.

In this section, we’ll explain that using your clients’ guest WiFi login to collect contact tracing data is safer for staff and patrons, it offers more flexibility than alternative solutions, and it’s more secure.

Safer Data Collection

Imagine a restaurant hostess who has just seated a party of five in the establishment’s indoor or outdoor seating area. She pulls out pen and paper, and, through a mask, explains the requirement that each member of the party must provide their contact information. Asking for clarification about how names are spelled and repeating misheard phone numbers becomes tiresome; everyone’s mask stays on for a minute, but the information exchange becomes so frustrating that safety protocols are abandoned.

Or when the waiter brings a pen and paper for the patrons to fill out their own details, a pen that everyone else had touched before. This procedure goes against the pandemic safety protocols.

By the end of the shift, that scenario is repeated dozens of times, resulting in protracted, contact-intensive interactions that put the staff and patrons at risk.

Getting patrons to provide contact tracing data via the WiFi login process is safer. There’s less back-and-forth communication.

Signage and a brief verbal statement from the hostess are all it takes to alert patrons to the policy. Then, customers use their mobile phones to fill in the required contact tracing data. When all the necessary fields are entered, and the patron clicks the Login button, the critical execution of contact tracing data collection will be complete, with very little personal interaction required. 

Flexibility in Contact Tracing Data Collection

How many data fields do you use in your client’s guest WiFi login screen? For most agencies, the answer is one or two. It’s either name and email or phone number.

Your WiFi marketing platform makes it incredibly easy to collect the additional data you’ll need for contact tracing. To the form, you can add First Name, Last Name, Email, and Phone. If contact tracing is mandatory, there may be additional requirements, like collecting personal ID numbers. All the fields can be set as required so you won’t get incomplete contact tracing data.

Additional flexibility comes from using the login process to reassure customers, explicitly stating the purpose for the data collection, and ensuring data privacy. A post-login thank you message can include comforting details about the establishments’ approach to safety during the pandemic.

Greater Accuracy and Data Security

Asking a person to say their full name, email address, and phone number out loud in a public place is asking too much. The information will be broadcast to everyone within hearing range, plus, it’s not even an effective way to exchange detailed information. There’s little chance that the person recording the data will get every detail correct without needing clarification.

Getting people to enter the information themselves is the answer, but passing around a guest book, digital or otherwise, is out of the question. Patrons need to enter the contact tracing data on their own mobile devices, as this will ensure safe, accurate data collection.

Digitally collecting and storing data is much more secure than an approach that involves manual collection. If the information is recorded on paper, the paper can be misplaced or seen by people who aren’t authorized.

Data security is important not only for customer privacy but also so that collected data can fulfill its purpose in contact tracing.

The last thing any business owner wants is to get a call from a public health worker with news that one of their patrons has tested positive for COVID-19. But if it happens, it’s vitally important that the business owner has contact information for all the patrons that may have been affected.

If contact tracing information is collected via a guest WiFi login, the needed data is in a database, from which a report can be generated. That’s how vitally important public health information should be handled.

Contact Tracing with Guest WiFi Helps Your Clients and Your Agency

Contact tracing will help to stop the spread of COVID-19. It can be the key to your clients’ ability to reopen or continue serving patrons, and it can help your agency reengage with clients that are reeling from the impact that the pandemic has had on their businesses.

The restaurateurs and gym owners you were working with pre-pandemic are still out there. They’re either about to reopen or they’ve already made the operational changes needed to address public health concerns.

If your digital marketing agency has lost clients because of the pandemic, offering them a way to collect contact tracing data efficiently can be your way to win them back.

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