Self-service options aren’t just nice-to-haves for customers. They’re critical for creating the smooth, fast support experience today’s customers expect. Our Customer Experience Trends Report 2020 found that high-performing businesses were 76 percent more likely to provide self-service options—but only one-third of companies were offering any sort of self-service. That disconnect represented a missed opportunity for a majority of businesses.
Many brands are correcting course—the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2021 found that over 60 percent of companies are now investing in self-service, among other digital transformations meant to keep pace with changing customer preferences. The good news is that there’s technology that makes it easy to quickly stand-up some self-service options.
An ‘FAQ page’ is one of the simplest forms of self-service and can be a great first step in building out a full help center. But first, you’ll want to learn the FAQs of FAQs: Why do they matter, how should you design them, and what can you do to ensure customers find the answer they’re looking for?
What are the advantages of an FAQ page?
An FAQ page is a space on a company’s website that lists and answers frequently asked questions customers have regarding the business’ products, services, or processes. Historically, this was a static page of questions and answers, but today, an FAQ page can also be shorthand for a company’s help center—a robust knowledge base that empowers customers to solve their own issue.
Anything that customers want or need to know can fall under the purview of FAQs. These questions often address pricing, return policies, service usage, product setup, troubleshooting, and more.
“Having an FAQ page is a way of being more proactive and predictive with what your customers or clients are going to need help with,” says Madison Davis, senior manager of content management within Zendesk’s Customer Advocacy team. “It’s also an opportunity to point people in the direction you want them to go. If there’s something you want to make sure they see, an FAQ is a great place to put it.”
For customers, the benefits of an FAQ page are obvious. Instead of taking the time to call or message customer service, they can get an immediate answer to their question—ideally, it’s as quick and convenient as a Google search. This time-saving component is a big benefit for companies, too.
“If you can publish information for people to find on their own, then your agents don’t have to waste their time answering the easy questions,” explains Davis.
Ideally, an FAQ page leaves agents with fewer tickets and more time to spend on complex questions that require one-on-one guidance. By reducing agents’ workload, an FAQ page is likely to increase their level of engagement.
“Support agents get really tired of answering the same things over and over again,” says Davis. “And I think you can improve the agent experience by eliminating low-hanging fruit and turning them into frequently asked questions.”
3 tips for crafting a compelling FAQ page
FAQ pages should be thorough, easy to navigate, and genuinely helpful. To provide that kind of self-service experience, there are some universal best practices you’ll want to adhere to.
Do your research
To create a comprehensive FAQ page, be prepared to analyze a lot of customer-interaction data. “You have to really dig in and find out what your customers are asking about by looking at your tickets,” says Davis.
If you have a ticket-categorization system that utilizes tags, use it to classify support interactions by type. Group them together, and see which categories are the most prevalent. Talk to your agents as well; they can tell you what questions they’re regularly fielding or handling.
You can also use a tool like Google Analytics to see what search queries and terms are bringing customers to your website. (Consider partnering with your marketing team, since they’re probably already looking closely at SEO.) Once you identify the most frequently asked questions, pay attention to the precise wording and phrasing that customers use.
“There are some people who are going to type the whole sentence, and some people who are going to type two keywords,” says Davis. “Understanding how your customers describe their issue makes it likelier that you’ll get your FAQ in front of them via search.”
Keep your FAQ page clean and organized
If you present all your frequently asked questions as one long list, customers may get tired of searching for the answer they need. Instead, organize your FAQ page by topic, grouping together inquiries that address the same subject. If you have a lot of information to cover, you may need to make separate FAQ pages for different audiences or use cases.
Get creative with videos or photos
Another way to make FAQ pages more engaging is to break up the text with helpful graphics, pictures, or short videos.
“More and more, we are finding that people want or even expect visual aids,” says Davis. “Whether that’s through screenshots or short video tutorials, it goes over well because it provides another way that people can learn about something.”
Data shows that video tutorials are especially popular. A Wyzowl study found that when given a choice between text and video, 72 percent of customers preferred learning about a product or service visually. Both the Freshly FAQ page and the Ruggable FAQ page make good use of explainer videos.
Although video content can be more time consuming to create, customers will appreciate the effort. And if a recorded tutorial can sufficiently explain a concept or provide clear instructions to customers, your support agents won’t need to—making the process more efficient for everyone.
What are other ways to answer frequently asked questions?
An FAQ page can be a lot richer than a basic list of questions. FAQs organized into a robust knowledge management solution, or help center, can allow you to build and manage help articles over time and as your business grows. When paired with a support solution, a help center can allow you to turn common tickets into articles and to enhance your help center with an intelligent bot.
Bots provide customers with immediate responses to frequently asked questions—no searching or scrolling required. When customers type their query in a chat or messaging conversation, an AI-powered bot can suggest a relevant article and ask if it solves their problem. If the customer says no, they’ll be routed to a human agent instead. But in many cases, a well-trained bot will provide customers with the answer they need, faster than is humanly possible. Sophisticated, multilingual bots work across multiple communication channels, including web, mobile, and even social messaging apps.
If using a bot, Davis recommends writing short, digestible articles, which will be easier for bots to recognize and for customers to process. At Zendesk, we use our own knowledge management software for our help center, along with Answer Bot to support our customers.
“Answer Bot weighs the first 75 words of an article greater than the rest of the article,” explains Davis. “So if your article needs to be longer than that, you should try to summarize it in the first 75 words.”
[Related read: 10 basic strategies for creating and designing a knowledge base]
Ideally, a bot will use internal labels or other functionality to limit the content it searches. A lengthy user guide, for example, may not provide the quick answer a customer is looking for. “If you can curate the pool of content that the bot uses, it makes it more likely that the bot will connect someone to the right answer,” says Davis.
Take self-service beyond FAQs
Traditionally, FAQ pages were the only way customers could independently resolve their problems. Today, FAQs can be part of a larger help center and even rolled into macros—templates your support agents can use when they’re replying to a customer issue.
“If you move beyond FAQs to a more robust self-service strategy, you’re able to provide a really great experience to your customers who want to get help that way,” says Davis. “It’s not just a matter of pushing customers off to another place so that agents don’t have to talk to them—it's what they actually prefer in a number of situations.”
[Related read: 6 tips for building a thriving help center]
Reverb, an online marketplace for musicians, improved its self-service capacity and experienced a 50 percent decrease in per-agent contacts within seven months. The company now uses FAQs, articles, and videos to continue driving down its number of contacts per agent and to put answers at customers’ fingertips.
Create your own comprehensive help center with FAQs and other resources to increase agent efficiency and improve your customer experience.