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Five tips for building the perfect smart FAQ

  • 4 min read

These days, almost all customer service cases start on the web. Customers, users and people in general make broad online searches to find information about their issues. They look for solutions to their problems on the websites of companies, organizations and authorities.

If you can provide quick and relevant answers and solutions already at that stage, you have won a lot. If not, you risk unhappy customers or users and more “unnecessary” contacts to customer service.

This is why many web sites have a page for frequently asked questions – an FAQ – to answer the most common questions. The only problem is that a traditional FAQ usually is one long list of questions and answers lined up one after another. Additionally, the “frequent” questions are rarely the most common and don’t change if visitors’ interests change over time. Not very user-friendly.
Here are our five best tips for taking your FAQ to the next level.

1. Make your FAQ available in the right places

Make sure that your most common questions (and answers) are available when and where your customers really need them – at the right place at the right time. Don’t hide the information on a separate page if the customer needs it elsewhere. Try to find a way to highlight the information where it is relevant.
For example, in an online store, you don’t want the customer to leave the product page just to check your return policy. You can solve this with a so-called floating widget that is displayed in a corner of the current page and presents a top list of topics based on context and users’ actual behaviors and questions.

2. Write for your users

Surprisingly, lists of “Frequently Asked Questions” are rarely questions that are asked very frequently, but rather what someone thinks they might be. Find out what customers actually ask of you and make sure there is a matching guide in your FAQ. Avoid internal jargon and be extra clear if there is the least risk of misinterpreting the information.
Our statistics clearly show that customers prefer to click their way to answers rather than doing free text searches. This becomes much easier if the most relevant content is at the top. Feel free to highlight different FAQs that are tailor-made for different pages on your site. A customer who reads about home insurance on your site is probably not as interested in car insurance questions – although these are read more often in total.
Create a concise structure of categories for your content and assign each category a suitable icon / illustration for increased clarity.

3. Be brief

Just like when talking about AHT (Average Handling Time), the time it takes to manage a customer service case, the same principle can be applied to the answers in your FAQ. Your readers expect to be able to resolve their case quickly, which calls for clarity and relevance. In particular, put some effort into the titles of your FAQs. Do users understand at a quick glance which question is answered in a specific quide?
Write concisely, airily and to the point. Use bulleted lists, pictures and videos to make your guides easy to follow and understand. Start with a first draft. Now try to cut the amount of text in half without losing the really relevant information. It’s not always possible, but surprisingly often you can succeed!

4. Update regularly

Make sure your FAQ is up to date and always holds relevant and accurate information. If the information is outdated, it cannot help your customers either. An easy-to-use content management tool can make life easier for your employees.
An FAQ is a living document and must be taken care of to serve its purpose. Also, don’t forget to remove any questions that are never used – they just degrade the experience and make things difficult for the customer. For this purpose, regular analysis of visitor statistics is important.

5. Make sure there’s always a next step

You can’t answer every imaginable question in your FAQ. That’s why it’s important to integrate ways for visitors to make contact. Regardless if they want to provide feedback on the content, submit a complaint or ask a more specific question. In short, you need a contact strategy. An integrated FAQ and contact page with different alternatives can be a very effective solution that covers all customer needs.

Help on the way towards a perfect FAQ

With ACE Knowledge you create content, build structure and logic in a simple interface and choose when, where and how it should be presented on your web site or intranet. Comprehensive statistics on user behavior helps with development and maintenance of your knowledge base and your perfect smart FAQ.