Every FAQ page begin with the notion that it is a required element of every good website. Please go ahead and file this good idea with other good ideas like American Cheese, the XFL, and beauty pageants.
FAQ pages are typically born of good intentions; to help customers, bump SEO performance, and answer frequent customer service questions. These good intentions (almost always) become the dumping ground of poor planning, poor customer insight, and poor site content management–if you don’t believe me, visit your FAQ page right now and see for yourself.
If your site currently has a FAQ page, odds are someone at your company made up both the questions and the answers. This is disingenuous, and a targetless pander to a misunderstood customer.
Having a FAQ directly reflects on your brand’s customer service abilities. Done well and you are Zappos. Done poorly and you’re Comcast.
If you insist on having a FAQ page, do it right. Instead of relying on bogus questions, figure out who is really visiting your site (and buying from you), what they really want to know, and provide them with that content.
Here are sources for understanding your customers real FAQs
These people talk to your customers every day. They answer the phone. They read emails. They do their best to help solve real problems (your website should solve instead).
Sit down with them and ask what their average day is like, who calls for what reason, and if the website can be updated to make their lives (and thus your customer’s lives) easier.
Listen to them. Make the changes. Keep doing that same thing every month.
Maybe you don’t have an entire Customer Service team, you’ve just got an info@yourbrand email address (or you are the Customer Service team, and the e-com manager, and the content manager).
Is anyone checking the email?
Do you see any patterns in the questions that get sent in?
Odds are the same questions and challenges are coming up repeatedly. Sort through them and figure out which content and features need updating so visitors’ questions are answered onsite (and in the purchase path).
If you have customer reviews on your site, and you should, take the time to read them. Whenever someone complains, reply. If their complaint is something that you or your website can solve. Solve it.
Twitter (and other social media)
People use Twitter to complain about everything. Check your hashtags and company stream. For anything you can correct, correct it. Reach out and let people know you are paying attention. Add content to your site, in the path of customers, that answer these questions and concerns.
If all the previous inputs don’t give you a clear sense of the questions people need answers to, you can always ask them directly.
Form questions from customer service feedback, customer reviews, and Twitter. Send it out to your email list with a coupon offer. Do the same on social. Attend to the answers.
What to do with the answers
Place the answers where your visitors are looking for them (Product sizing? Put it on the product detail page. Shipping and Returns? Put it on the product, checkout, and customer service pages).
If you have a ton of content that can be grouped together into a FAQ page, and it makes sense for that content to exist in one place, do that as well.
It’s impossible to help someone you don’t understand with issues you’re not aware of. Be the brand that is still around in 10 years because you care enough to help your customers right now.
Put in the effort to understand and serve your customers online and make life easier on your customer service team. You’ll earn more loyal customers as a result.