Photo by photosteve101
Imagine that you are working feverishly on a document. Suddenly, the programme you are using shuts down, apparently without any rhyme or reason.
Aargh! What should you do?
Beyond asking your friends or colleagues for help, you are likely to go to Google, type “How to recover data when ______ happens” and seive through its responses.
Guess what? Your customers are doing the exact same thing!
Who do you think would win their trust, affection and debt of gratitude? The one providing the answers to their woes, of course. Unfortunately, this is often likely to come from a third party forum or discussion board.
Is there a way for you to benefit from your customer’s search of answers. Of course!
Simply provide them in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Since time immemorial, man has been searching for answers. The onslaught of ever sophisticated digital products and services powered by technology has accentuated this need.
With the convenience and ubiquity of search engines on digital devices like laptops, tablets, smartphones and even smart watches, consumers expect to find answers at their fingertips. This is where FAQs come in.
So what are some of the benefits of FAQs?
By answering every conceivable question of significance, you are creating a pipe-line of customer-focused long-tail content. This repository of information can be hugely useful for SEO purposes if you use targeted keywords and phrases that are commonly requested for.
It also allows you to exploit micro-niches of customers with very specific interests or problems.
Like it or not, companies tend to avoid answering the tough and probing questions. This could be due to concerns of losing competitiveness, unveiling corporate secrets, or showing possible product weaknesses.
Honestly, such fears are often unfounded in an age where a company’s reputation doesn’t just get dented by a product flaw or two. On the contrary, being open about solving potential issues may help endear you to both present and future customers.
In technical focused B2B industries, FAQs may help you to achieve authority. This is especially critical given the paucity of such information on the web. While White Papers and eBooks may up the ante in achieving thought leadership, they aren’t as easy to plough into vis-a-vis FAQs and answers that address every available scenario.
Finally, the discipline of crafting FAQs compels you to understand who your customers are. In the process of developing them, you would have to study various online and offline sources of information to mine the questions and answers.
Doing so also gives you a better sense of your company’s strengths – and weaknesses. It allows you to identify where critical gaps are and to find ways to patch them up.
Now that we are convinced of the importance of FAQs, how do we start?
The first step is to generate that list of questions. This is probably the easiest part of the process since we are all natural question askers (to some degree or other). Take the following steps:
Once you have got your questions in place, you need to answer them in a way that addresses the concerns of your prospects in a way that is accessible, human and fun. Consider the following steps:
Last, but certainly not least, it is important for you to update your questions and answers regularly. It is almost a given that the longer your product and service is out in the market, the higher the chances of fresh customer concerns emerging.
To address these, include a Feedback Loop in your FAQ generation process. Do a regular refresh of your content so that it can continually meet the changing demands of your customers.
Once again, online and offline research tools – from Google Trends, AdWords Planner, to your trusty old ear – come in very useful.
Have you started developing online FAQs for your organisation’s products and services? What challenges or opportunities do you see in doing so?