• Lucas North

Why you should give a FAQ about your frequently asked questions

LOTS OF COMPANIES have a section on their website that deals with the questions they get asked most often by their customers.

Or at least this is what their frequently asked questions (FAQs – note, no apostrophe) section should do.

FAQs can be a really efficient way of providing a customer-service that is helpful to companies (because FAQs can save a lot of time) as well as the people looking for answers.

And, while many companies do a great job with their FAQs, some are, erm, questionable.

As I spent some of this week writing FAQs for a client (as well as the relevant responses) I thought I’d pass on some general tips.

1. FAQs should be about the questions people really ask. Don’t just make them up to suit things you want to say about your company.

2. Answer the question! Sounds obvious, I know. But, look at some company FAQs and you’ll notice many responses that ramble on about virtually anything other than the question. People aren’t looking at FAQs for stories: they’re looking for answers.

3. Put them in order. If most of your customers want to know when they can expect delivery, that should be your first FAQ. Don’t bury this at the bottom of the pile. Then, answer the next most frequently asked question. And so on, to the bottom of the page. Trust me, your customers will thank you for this.

4. Write clearly. As with most writing, your responses should be crystal clear. Remember, your FAQs are about efficiency for you and your customers. The clearer your answers, they fewer calls you’ll get from frustrated customers who can’t work out your FAQ responses.

5. Write concisely and helpfully. If you were very concise, you could answer many FAQs with a simple ‘yes’, a ‘no’ or a ‘see our T&Cs’.

These responses are concise. But they’re not always helpful. Provide a little more relevant information. In response to a question about delivery, you could write something like: ‘Yes, we can leave your package with a neighbour who can sign for it. Please provide details of your preferred neighbour in the “additional information” section and we’ll pass your message on to our courier.’

6. Likewise, if the answer is a ‘no’, it would be useful to provide a reason. So, in response to a question about delivery, you could write something like: ‘No. Unfortunately, we cannot leave packages on doorsteps, in porches or outbuildings in case they go missing. We are happy to leave your package with a neighbour who can sign for it.’

7. If you repeatedly get asked a question you can't help with, say so (yes, include this in your FAQs). There are at least a couple of options for you here. You could point your customer in the direction of another company (yes, even a competitor) that can help them. Your customer will be grateful to you for this. And, as you couldn’t help them anyway, you're not losing any business, but you are improving your reputation for helpfulness.

Otherwise, do something about the fact that you can't help them, if possible. Your customer is giving you an opportunity here to provide another service or offer another product. Those repeated questions are the demand. You are the supply.

I hope this is useful. Please let me know your top tips for FAQs. And get in touch if you need any help with yours.

Till next time... have a great weekend.

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