Many companies offer great products but tend to overlook the fact that with any product or service, users WILL have questions, and as a business, one must provide easy to find answers to questions that are frequently asked by prospects and customers alike.
In this piece we will go over what exactly an FAQ is, Why it’s important for your customer, Why it’s good for your business, and how you can build your own FAQ section that will keep your customers happy and your support team off their toes!
What is FAQ?
FAQs are that nifty section of a company’s website where you’ll find answers to recurring customer questions.
For most ecommerce sites, they clarify the company’s rules and policies regarding refunds, returns, shipping, and more.
For software and digital services, they guide users to perform common actions, such as deleting an account or fixing sync problems.
But why turn to FAQs when there are living and breathing human beings ready to answer these questions for you?
You’re missing out on the benefits of self-service
FAQs are a form of self-service, and most people, if not all, prefer to try and solve an issue themselves rather than wait for a customer service rep.
In Kayako’s Analysis on Customer Service Trends, we found that 90% of consumers expect a brand or organization to offer self-service or frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages.
It’s more efficient and low-effort because they prevent the customer from switching from one service channel (the website) to another (email or phone). And as Dixon, Toman, and Delisi of CEB point out in The Effortless Experience, channel switching is “one of the biggest and most insidious drivers of high customer effort.”
Building your first FAQ template from scratch
The best part about FAQs is they’re easy to create and improve as your product or company grows over time.
If this is your first time creating FAQs or you’re looking to improve your existing content, I’ll be sharing a simple yet easy FAQ template you can use for your first and succeeding FAQ articles.
But, before we get into building your first FAQ template. There’s one question we must answer now:
What’s the difference between FAQs and knowledge base articles?
Self-service content take on different forms and structures based on the topics covered. It’s easy to mix documentation, how-to’s, and FAQs since they all work to help customers perform specific tasks or solve their problems.
FAQs however differ from documentation or knowledge base articles in length, language, and approach. They swiftly answer common questions in 2-3 clear paragraphs, while knowledge base or “Instruction” articles meld context, theory, and application so that users understand how a feature helps their workflow and how to use it in their everyday operations.
FAQs are intended to be in question and answer format and should be kept direct and to-the-point with links to more in-depth information. That way, if your users are just looking for a little nudge in the right direction, they can read the FAQ and get on with their day.
Since they’re short, direct, and easy to create, FAQ articles are a good way to get the ball rolling with self-service.
Here are 4 easy steps to creating your first FAQ article:
Step 1: Create a list of common and recurring support questions
As the front line handling customer issues and hurdles, your support team are the best people to have onboard your self-service initiatives.
You can invite your support team to create a list of the company’s most common and recurring questions and issues. You can even view and filter existing support conversations for repeat questions.
When creating your first list of FAQs, keep a close watch for shorter, more generic questions as these tend to be popular in searches. With the longtail, less frequently asked questions, leave these to be addressed by your support team or a knowledge base article.
When deciding when to create an FAQ, we rely on the Kayako support team to raise the flag when a support question needs to be covered. If someone comes and says, ‘Hey, we need an FAQ for this!’ we do a quick search to make sure there’s not something existing that just needs to be adapted, and if there isn’t we’ll usually go ahead and create one.
While collecting information, pay close attention terms, keywords, and descriptions your customers use when referring to your product. Doing so allows you to tune in to their language, thus optimizing your search terms so your customers immediately find the answers they’re looking for.
Lisa, Geckoboard’s Customer Success Champion, shares how using something as simple as tags helps the team keep track and implement unique terminology customers use to improve communication across the board:
“When we speak to our customers, we often find opportunities to improve our communication with them. We use tags in our help desk to keep track of the terminology for when the language used by the customer is not something we use in our internal or external documentation or marketing materials—for example, the word carousel where we would use loop. We review all tagged conversations and make sure we’re using these terms in the metadata for our help pages so that they appear when searched, or we add them into our style and language as a company. It’s hugely useful to us to make sure that we’re speaking the same language as our customers and creating a shared understanding of what our tools are and how they work.”
Once you have a good collection of support questions to sift through, let’s look at how we can organize your FAQs.
Step 2: Organize your FAQs
Establishing an organizational structure saves you the trouble of searching and skimming through numerous FAQ articles in the future. If you’re unsure about how to present your FAQs, a simple FAQ section or page is the most basic option to start with.
You can narrow down your list of support questions till you have 6-10 to work with. If you have 20 or more FAQ articles though, you can group and categorize questions so they’re easier to find. For instance, you can group articles by topic or process (e.g. accounts and users, billing), products and features, or platform. Here’s a good example:
Step 3: Write your FAQ article
Clarity and brevity are crucial when writing high-quality FAQ pages. If your customers can’t understand or digest your self-service content, they’re bound to channel switch.
Here are a few useful writing tips for your first FAQ template, some of which we at Kayako use for our own FAQs:
1. Keep it short and sweet: Begin your article with the complete question followed by 2-4 paragraphs explaining the answer clearly and succinctly. Some questions may even need just 1-2 sentences to answer the question.
Can I use Messenger in multiple languages?
Yes, you can use Messenger to offer support in multiple languages. As with other localizable content in Kayako, the language displayed will depend on two factors:
- Which languages you’ve enabled from the admin area.
- Which of those languages the customer selects from the Help Center dropdown.
Once a language is selected, Messenger will appear to the customer in that language.
In this example the required information has been provided in a clear and concise manner. Everything a user would need has been given in the answer.
2. Add visuals: You can add a screenshot or GIF as a visual reference. If the article becomes too dense with text, visuals can make the reading experience easier for your users.
Here’s another example: Suppose many users ask where customer conversation history may be viewed. A good way to present an answer to this question is:
Where do I find a customer’s conversation history?
For a detailed look at every action a customer has taken or reply they’ve sent, you can explore their complete journey by clicking their name when looking at a conversation you’ve had with them:
From there, if you scroll to the bottom of the sidebar, you’ll find a list of all of their recent conversations:
This approach provides an answer to the question in 3 lines of text with supporting images that show exactly where a user must click to view customer conversation history.
3. Unify the company terminology: When writing, you’ll want to ensure that there is unity in the language used throughout your content so there’s no room for confusion. Brief your support team on the standard terminology and encourage them to use these words when communicating with your customers.
A good rule is to write your questions in the customer’s voice. When identifying questions for your FAQ section, make sure the questions are important to your users and make an effort to make each question personal and relatable.
One of the best ways to do this is to put yourself in the users shoes. Think of what type of question structure would be most appealing to you if you were visiting an FAQ section.
- Upgrading from Kayako Classic to The New Kayako
- How can I upgrade from Kayako Classic to The New Kayako?
The first is a statement that is general and not from the user’s perspective. This is something that can throw a user off as it is not relatable. Keeping this in mind, remember to build your FAQ with questions that a user may ask.
Another great way to keep your team’s approach consistent to building out your FAQ section is to start with question words like How, Where, Can, Why, When and Which.
This will prevent your FAQs from looking like statements such as ‘Customer conversation history’ and ‘Customer and organization listings’ which make it difficult for a user to find and identify the statement and its accompanying response that best addresses the question they have.
Here is an example of how the same statements read once rephrased as a question.
- Where do I find a customer’s conversation history?
- Where can I find a list of all my customers or organizations?
Starting with a question word and keeping the customer’s perspective makes the questions relatable and helps users find what they’re looking for .
4. Format for the web: Break thick paragraphs into thin, easy-to-digest blocks of text so your readers can easily scan and find the information they need.
Here are a couple of examples of how this could be done.
This is an example of FAQ topics and questions presented on the same page. Twitter has moved their FAQ topics to the left navigation, allowing users to click and jump to the relevant section of the page.
Another excellent example is that of money management software, Mint. They have an FAQ page with questions neatly grouped under each topic. This makes the page easy to navigate with its crisp and clean layout.
Step 4: Maintain your FAQs (Are your FAQs still helping?)
Launching your FAQ section is just the beginning of your journey into self-service.
You’ll want to keep an eye on how your FAQs are performing against your conversation/ticket volume, paying close attention to their relevance as your product or company changes over time. In this case, metrics are your best friend.
At Kayako, we add to and edit [Kayako’s FAQs] on a rolling basis, but in an ideal world, we’d do an FAQ audit once a year and make sure everything’s still relevant and up-to-date. Auditing is a great way to evaluate and trim down your FAQ section to a manageable collection. You can delete irrelevant articles or combine similar topics if they’re best suited as a knowledge base article.
What can you do so your customer never asks this question again?
The template above offers plenty of useful tips to set the first stone for your self-service content library. All you need to do now is identify and address the issues that bug your customers so much that they need to exert effort just to reach out for help.
With well-written FAQs, your customers won’t need to call or email you about these basic recurring questions again. In doing so, you save precious time and effort for your support team as well—a win-win that most companies have only begun to realize.
If your FAQs and other self-service content can get even just two out of ten customers to avoid channel switching, you’ve already won half of the battle for your customer’s loyalty.