Why you need a FAQ page
The purpose of the FAQ page on an e-commerce site is to retain customers and maximize sales. With a good choice of keywords, a FAQ page is also an opportunity to improve SEO for the site.
On a site selling a wide range of products from different sources, the most common questions are about shipping and its costs, delivery times, payment methods, coupons and promo codes, returns/exchanges and guarantees. If it specializes in a narrow range of goods, or if the seller is also the manufacturer, customers may ask for more detailed information on each product.
- First of all, the FAQ page needs to be prominently linked and easy to find. Providing two links, at the top and foot of the home page, is a good idea.
- The choice and sequence of the questions are important to save customers’ time, the most likely questions to be asked coming first.
- The FAQ list itself needs to be compact, with all answers on the one page. The best way of doing this is with only the questions visible, with accordion-style dropdown answers that appear at a click. This saves space and, ideally, allows all the questions to be viewed at once without scrolling.
FAQ page contents
The FAQ page usually contains information that, although available elsewhere on the site, is best collected on a single page to make it faster and easier to find when customers want it.
The best designed website will always keep a customer moving towards a sale in the most efficient way possible, and making the most obvious questions easy to find is part of that. A site visitor who opens the FAQ page is at least considering making an order, so it’s vital to ensure their query is answered as quickly and as clearly as possible.
Best practice for FAQ page compilation
Speed and simplicity are what marks out a good FAQ page. Both questions and answers should be laid out plainly, with the minimum of words. Most of these questions will begin with:
- If it’s a yes or no question, the first word of the answer should be yes or no, with further elaboration if required.
- It’s often better to use screenshots to explain or illustrate something rather than a long drawn out explanation.
- A search function can also be added to the page, but use of this should be as a last resort – customers expect the answer to be right there to see.
- Whoever writes the FAQ page needs to put themselves in the mind of the customer and look at the site from that perspective. The questions should reflect the customer’s thoughts, and be posed in the first person where possible: “If I’m ordering from Canada, how long will my delivery take?”
- Likewise, it’s best to put the answer in the first person, i.e. “we”, “our”, “us”, and use “you” when referring to the customer. Beyond that, the type of business conducted and the type of customer the site is likely to attract should dictate the general tone of the text – formal or more familiar, technical jargon or simpler language aimed at the lay person.
- As with every other part of an e-commerce site, one mustn’t lose sight of the goal of maximizing sales. The primary purpose of the FAQ page is to answer the questions in a matter of fact way, without any hard sell attitude. But it should also be part of the sales funnel. Each answer should have a link to the relevant page, to keep the customer on the path to a purchase wherever possible.
Keeping the FAQ page up to date
A FAQ page is not static. It needs to be evaluated and updated according to the needs and wishes of site visitors and changes in company policy. Customer activity on the site can be analyzed to continuously improve the FAQ content.
- Is there a question they often ask customer service agents that is not on the FAQ page?
- Do they stay on a particular page for a long time, or hesitate frequently at some particular point in the process of purchasing?
- At what point are they most likely to abandon an intended purchase?
These can all give clues about what questions it would be useful to add to the FAQ.
Customer questions: FAQ or agent?
Whether the FAQ or the agent is the preferred source of information depends on the type of customer, what kind of information they need, and how much time they have to track it down.
There are things customers expect to find out by clicking on the FAQ page, and others that they expect to have answered by a chat agent. Obviously, individual problems that apply only to a specific order or payment need to be investigated by the latter.
Even if customers pose questions that can be found on the FAQ page, agents should show no sign of annoyance or impatience. They are the face of the brand, and an unfailingly courteous attitude to customers is vital.
FAQ pages for agents
Customer service agents also need a FAQ page, but it reflects their more detailed knowledge of the site and the company. For the most part, knowing the answers to the most common questions is part of the agent’s job, and so their FAQ page needs to concentrate more on any unforeseen problems the site may be facing, such as delays or disruptions to deliveries.
For this reason, the agents’ FAQ page needs to be continuously updated to include information on interruptions to normal service which will result in inquiries from customers. These more complex questions arising from some problem or malfunction do not belong on the customer FAQ page, and agents are there to answer them as quickly and as clearly as possible.
Problems faced by agents
The problems agents deal with can often be due to mistakes or carelessness on the part of customers. They may order the wrong product, or the wrong quantity. Agents need to know how the most common mistakes can be rectified.
They need to be familiar with the workings of the site’s order, payment and delivery system and how to cancel orders and arrange refunds for products ordered in error, where this is company policy.
Their FAQ page needs to give instructions on all of these tasks. Feedback from agents is also essential to maintaining a good customer FAQ page. Is there a recurring question posed to them that should be on the customer FAQ page? If it’s there already, is the answer adequate?
The agents’ FAQ page also needs to cover the problems of dealing with angry or dissatisfied customers, and those who make demands that cannot be met by the company. What is the best way to deal with someone who insists on being compensated for a mistake that is entirely their own? Agents need to be well informed on how to deal diplomatically with customers who are difficult to satisfy, and preventing the problem from escalating further.
I asked my colleague about creating it:
“A few things we want out of our FAQ page are:
-It’s a working document. We know we’ll have to edit questions and add new
ones, so it’s never done. Don’t create a FAQ page, tap yourself on the
back, and say ‘it’s done’!
Our FAQ page is being updated all the time and we want it to appear more as
an ‘announcements’ page rather than a FAQ page that never changes.
-We’re trying to tackle in-depth questions and putting in the time to cover
all areas. In our FAQ page, you’ll notice we skip over basic things like
‘how to login’ and stuff like this that other e-commerce websites cover. We
don’t waste our time and fill up our FAQ section with questions that aren’t
useful or needed. Instead, we get right to the ‘meat’ and work hard on
solving actual issues our clients may be having.
-In essence, our FAQ page is less about ‘how to fix this’ and more about
‘how to do this’. I think this was important for us because it allows us to
give our clients the tools to do some wonderful things using the platform
Thanks so much for reading,
Yauhen Zaremba, Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc
Here is my answer to your query about FAQ pages:
FAQ pages aren’t just there to answer
questions that customers may have. They also exist to answer questions that we wish customers would ask. We’re not just
giving preemptive answers. We’re giving preemptive questions. This is important
to note because the casual reader on your site don’t necessarily have questions
ready on their minds, but they might find the questions you post intriguing
enough to read through.
FAQs shouldn’t just provide information and
clarity. They should also aid in the sale. While it is extremely important from
a credibility standpoint to provide as much helpful information about the
product or service as possible, we also have to remember that the point of
everything you do on your site is to convert traffic into sales. FAQs are part
of the whole equation. Like every piece of content on your page, they can be
used for both purposes.
FAQs should focus on the key objections that
can potentially hinder a sale. This means that the page should proactively
provide sufficient information to allay any worries or confusion that the
customer may have. Whatever you do, don’t point the reader to another link,
especially a “fine print”. As much as possible, answer the question you posted
to the fullest extent possible without being too circuitous.
Rohit Bimbra, Founder/CEO
FAQ pages and live chat customer service need to complement each other, and interact in a way that minimizes the time the customer spends finding the information they need.
A good FAQ page will ensure that customers can find as much information as possible without help, while the agents should provide all other necessary assistance in a fast and efficient manner.
The goal of the site is to maximize conversions and minimize the difficulties involved in ordering and paying for goods. In the increasingly competitive e-commerce market, retaining customers with fast answers to their queries is vital.