May 4, 2012

Do your FAQs give a visitor a reason to do business with you, or go elsewhere?

By Campbell Angus

A guide to writing effective Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for your website

When considering a list of frequently asked question for your website, you should approach it with two factors in mind:

  1. Be informative and answer common questions
  2. Reduce the visitor’s resistance toward doing business with you

Everyone understands the first point – the purpose of a Frequently Asked Questions list is to indeed answer questions that get asked often.

we had one client who had some FAQs on their page that resulted in orders on their site drying up and coming to a complete halt.

However, it can be the way you present those answers that can be the difference between someone picking up the phone and calling you or placing an order on your website, and them going some place else.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, we had one client who had some FAQs on their page that resulted in orders on their site drying up and coming to a complete halt. They went from getting up to a few orders a day to absolutely nothing for a period of two weeks. We removed the FAQ questions that we thought were causing red flags, and the within 20 minutes the orders started coming through again.

The FAQs in question, although factual and intended to be helpful, only served to put more doubt in a visitor mind, and ultimately discouraged them from buying. In our client’s case, they sell a product that, once purchased, is downloaded from their site. Occasionally people experience problems downloading the product, and our client put information around how to overcome these problems, and although the problems were experienced infrequently, the FAQ gave the impression it was ‘all to technical and difficult’, and buyers simply stopped buying.

So how might this apply to your business?

It’s pretty simple really. When you have a person in your store, or office, or on the phone, and they ask you a question, you generally answer their question in a way that gives them comfort, supporting why they should do business with you. The web is no different. In fact, the impersonal nature of the web makes it even more critical that you find ways to connect with your customer and not give a reason to go elsewhere.

Some simple examples:
Q: What happens if I get home and this shirt doesn’t fit my husband/child/dog.
A: No problem, if you bring it back with tags still in place and your receipt, we’ll swap it over for a different size.
Q: Can I get this shipped interstate? Will you package it appropriately? Who do you use to freight it? Can I get it insured?
A: Sure, we ship interstate all the time and package the product to minimise breakage. Insurance is also an option we offer.
Q: Is my credit card and personal information secure?
A: Absolutely – all our transactions are secure and encrypted, meeting standards and guidelines set by the banking industry. You can shop with us in confidence.
Each one of these questions can be answered in a variety of ways. For example, the last question could have been answered with a simple “yes, all our transactions are secure”, but adding something like “you can shop with us with confidence” provides an additional level of comfort to the potential client.

So when you’re preparing your list of FAQs, or reviewing your existing list, ask yourself if your answers provide your visitor with additional reasons to contact you or purchase from you? Do they answer questions in a way that will reduce the visitor’s resistance to form a relationship with you, or do they give them a reason to run and never look back?

All Blaze Online solutions include the option of an FAQ page. See http://www.meccacosmetica.com.au/Help/ for a great example of an effective FAQ page.