10 Tips for Writing an Ecommerce Website FAQ

A well-written Frequently Asked Questions page is a useful customer service tool. These 10 tips will help you build a relevant FAQ for customers who prefer 'self-service' support.

Small business ecommerce website owners spend a lot of time tweaking the homepage or shopping cart, but one important ecommerce content page that also needs attention is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

An online FAQ is a basically a document that contains a collection of commonly asked questions and the answers to those questions. The layout is in a strict question and answer format. Your customers will use the FAQ to find an answer to a question they have about your ecommerce website or service.

Ecommerce website owners should create and post a frequently asked questions page as a customer service tool. Many customers would rather look for an answer to a question on your website instead of calling or emailing you. The benefit for the site owner is that a well-written FAQ can cut down on the amount of time you spend in email or on the phone answering those common questions.

When you create a FAQ for your ecommerce website the goal is to provide customer support through an easy to understand series of specific questions and answers.

10 Tips to Create an Effective Ecommerce FAQ Page

As you create the document, remember the meaning of the term FAQ and what it encompasses. A FAQ really does need to consist of the most frequently asked questions to be useful -- not marketing statements and obscure questions and answers that no customer really asks. Approach this task with the goal of providing only customer support.

1. Use a Table of Contents: Offer subject headers at the top of the FAQ page with a hyperlink to that related section further down on the page. This allows a customer to quickly access the question they want answered.

2. Group Questions in a Logical Way: Don't create long list of questions and answers for customers to scroll through. Instead, choose a number of subjects (the main headers in your Table of Contents) and group separate specific questions related to that subject together. For shorter FAQs, grouping by "most popular" first also works well for reading.

3. Be Precise With the Question: Don't use open-ended questions that require lengthy answers. Instead, break it down in to several well-phrased and precise questions that have only one answer.

  • Incorrect: How do I use your shopping cart?
  • Correct: (1) Do I need to register before I can make a purchase? (2)Does the shopping cart auto-calculate shipping costs? (3) Is my wish list saved in the shopping cart?

4. Avoid Too Many Questions: The FAQ should not be used as a guide to "everything you could ever want to know" about the ecommerce website and services. By publishing only the popular questions and answers the FAQ will be more useful to your customers.

5. Answer the Question: Believe it or not, some FAQs pose a question and two paragraphs later the question remains unanswered. It is fine to use simple "Yes or No" answers. Your customers will appreciate a direct answer to their questions.

  • Incorrect: Do you ship to Canada? Because our business in located in the United States and we are unable to secure a shipping service that is cost-efficient…
  • Correct: Do you ship to Canada? No.

6. Link to Resources When Available: When possible, be sure to include additional information via hyperlinks so the customer can continue with self-service support. For example, common questions like "How do I change my billing address?" should always be hyperlinked to the online account information form so the customer can solve the problem immediately.

7. Use Bullet Points for Instructions: In cases where you need to provide instructions to answer a question, use bullet points to list the step-by-step instructions. Explanations of why the steps are required are not needed, and you should only provide the quickest and easiest set of steps to solve the problem and answer the customer's question.

8. Focus on Support, Not Marketing: Remember that this type of ecommerce website page is designed to provide customer service and support. All questions and answers should pertain to assisting customers and should not promote specific products. Marketing does not belong on an FAQ page.

9. Use Real Frequently Asked Questions: The frequently asked questions page should consist of real "frequently asked" questions that you get from customers. Track questions that are communicated to you via phone, email or Web-based technical support -- and publish the most commonly asked ones. Don't make up questions and answers just so you can offer a FAQ page. Doing so creates a page of useless information that is not relevant to the real questions and answers your customers expect to find on this page.

10. Update Your FAQ Page: As customers continue to communicate with you, update your FAQ. Delete irrelevant questions and add newer questions and answers that are the most common. Also, when you make changes to your ecommerce website or services, remember to check your FAQ to ensure the questions are relevant and the answers are accurate based on website changes.

Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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