March 27, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
At first blush, a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page might seem like a dated throwback to the earliest days of the web—more dial-up internet than sophisticated eCommerce selling tool. But an FAQ page is actually a crucial part of a modern digital strategy for eCommerce sites.
A well-crafted FAQ page can free a customer who’s hit a friction point, and then ease them back toward a conversion. The proactive nature of FAQs can also reduce customer service costs by eliminating a shopper’s need to reach out to your customer support team.
Most brands understand the importance of FAQs, according to recent research from Gartner L2. The research company found that more than 85% of brands it examined had put FAQs in their sites’ primary or secondary navigation1, a clear nod to how important they’ve become for eCommerce companies.
But it’s not just about serving your shoppers. FAQs provide a source of high-quality, searchable content that can be used by several other systems in your eCommerce toolbox.
Here are 5 ways that eCommerce sites can max out the usefulness of their FAQs:
1. Give the People What They Want
Customer service communications are a great way to identify problem areas and figure what content you should be putting in your FAQ. Is your customer service team fielding the same questions over and over again? That’s a sure sign that your website is either failing to include the information your customers actually want, or that the particulars are difficult for them to find.
Remember, good FAQ pages are about specifics: How do I use this coupon I received in the mail? How long will it take for my new rug to be delivered? Both the question and the answer should zero in on a clearly defined issue.
2. Keep It Simple
Now you know what information your customers are looking for, so make sure you actually give it to them. Keep your answers short and clear; your language should mirror the question being asked. Don’t be afraid to play around with tone either. You can use jargon or slang if your target audience is a niche one that will get it, but only as long as it’s consistent with your overall brand voice.
3. If You Have a Lot of Questions, Group by Topic
Gartner L2’s research found that nearly nine in 10 brands organized their FAQ pages by topic, highlighting a best practice. By grouping a lengthy list of FAQs by topic you’re giving shoppers a better user experience by organizing your content and giving them some visual breathing room, rather than wall of text. You’re also make it easier for shoppers to scan content that’s similar in nature, and might be related to their original question.
WhatsApp, for example, does a great job of breaking up its FAQ by device, platform and vertical. The service rightly assumes that WhatsApp Business users are more likely to have more questions in common with one another than with WhatsApp users on an iPhone.
4. Guide Your Shoppers Back to the Purchase Funnel
FAQs should be a detour on the customer journey, not a dead end. Include links in your FAQs that will guide your shoppers back to the path to purchase, but only when they’re relevant. Think hard about using calls-to-action that serve shoppers’ interests first and foremost, not yours.
5. Search Should Be Top-of-Mind
Shockingly, Gartner L2 found that only about one-quarter of brand sites it analyzed took the effort to make their FAQ pages searchable. Big box brands were leaders in this regard, while fashion and hotel brands lagged behind. Both retailers and brands can benefit from instituting good SEO practices on their eCommerce site’s FAQ pages.
Start by creating a multipage FAQ instead of cramming all of the information on one page. You can add a search bar to your FAQ page if you think it will help shoppers get to the answers to their questions faster, or if you have a lot of information for customers to parse through.
How TurnTo’s Community Q&A Can Help with eCommerce FAQs
TurnTo developed its Community Q&A product to deliver fast answers to shopper questions from a resource they trust: other customers who’ve already bought the product. Answers to questions submitted to Community Q&A come from a number of sources. They can be drawn from previously answered questions, product Ratings & Reviews, as well as other relevant product content.
In addition, with TurnTo’s Community Q&A your FAQ pages—and any other pages on your website for that matter—are searchable, giving shoppers instant answers from both customers and your own in-house experts at the same time.
One of the major benefits of TurnTo’s Community Q&A is that it keeps shoppers on your product detail page even when they have a question that’s unrelated to a particular item.
In the example above, a customer on a product detail page wants information about Cole Haan’s shipping and tracking features. Community Q&A can serve up an answer without forcing a shopper to navigate to another page, removing a customer’s potential digression from a conversion.
Want to learn more about how TurnTo’s Community Q&A can help?
1 Helping Customers Help Themselves; Gartner L2, March 2019
September 25, 2013 by George Eberstadt
Automated personalization and recommendation tools are great at helping shoppers and increasing sales, up to a point. These tools can make it easy for shoppers to find alternative items that may fit their needs a bit better. They can propose complementary products that help raise average order value. They can adjust the selection of items from a catalog that are presented to each shopper to highlight those most likely to be of interest.
But often, shoppers have needs or preferences that can’t be inferred from their browsing history or the profile data you can collect on them. There’s no way a personalization engine can know that, this time, I’m shopping for a present for my mom, not for me. And if I was shopping for a present for mom last time I was here, the engine may easily think I’m an 85 year old grandmother rather than a 47 year old guy. But even if I’m just shopping for me, how is a personalization engine going to guess that our coffee machine is dying and it’s time for a new one? Or that I’ve just become interested in sous vide cooking? Or that I had a bad experience with customer service from a particular brand a while back and I’d rather not give them my business? How do you personalize the shopping experience for these visitors?
That’s where humans come in. There’s still no substitute for the dialog that happens between a shopper and a great sales associate. The shopper articulates her needs, and the associate suggests a targeted, creative selection of products to solve them. That’s personalization! Sure, it’s old-school, but it’s still the gold standard.
However, this sort of human-powered personalization is expensive to provide – online as well as in stores. Further, not every sales associate has deep product knowledge or the gift of making that knowledge really useful to shoppers. The things you can do to improve the performance of associates – higher pay to reduce turn-over and training to increase knowledge – make the cost problem worse. Provide fewer associates and the customer experience declines – whether it’s live chat or in a store, shoppers don’t like to wait. And then there are the challenges of addressing spikes in demand, like the holidays.
The solution lies in a hybrid approach to recommendations that combines the ability of humans to come up with creative suggestions with the ability of technology to re-use that expertise and deliver it economically:
- First let your shoppers express their needs by submitting questions on your site. “I’m looking for a birthday gift for my 85 year old mom. Here’s some info about her. What would you suggest?” “We need a new coffee machine. Here are some things we want from it, and here are some things we want to avoid. Which ones should we consider?” “I’ve narrowed down to 3 sous vide cookers. Which is going to work best for me?” (This means your system needs to support multi-item comparison questions!)
- Then get those questions answered from the most appropriate sources for the question – past customers with relevant experience, your in-house experts, manufacturer reps, and independent experts. Provide the broadest possible range of answers and opinions, and make it clear what the perspective and background is of each person answering. And be sure you deliver those answers fast – that keeps the person who asked happy, and it also makes other visitors a lot more likely to ask their own questions.
- Finally – and here’s the key ingredient – put that Q&A dialog in a knowledge base and connect that knowledge base to your question submission form so that the next time a shopper has a similar question, they will immediately see if their question has already been asked and answered. Those future shoppers will receive INSTANT answers to their questions, and that is accomplished with zero additional work for your staff.
With this approach, you can quickly build up a knowledge base that incorporates the combined wisdom of your customer community and your own product experts, delivering the benefits of true human-powered recommendations with the scalability and cost-effectiveness of automated systems. You’ll also find that you have created a valuable resource for your internal customer support team. And you’ll have the foundation for providing automated, self-service customer support on mobile devices and kiosks.
So don’t limit your personalization and recommendations strategy to automated systems, and don’t give up on human-powered recommendations just because it’s expensive. Take a hybrid, Q&A-based approach to deliver the best of both worlds.