The FAQ has Evolved but is it Still a Powerful Customer Service Tool?

FAQ road sign

The FAQ has Evolved but is it Still a Powerful Customer Service Tool?

Humanity loves to ask questions. Our curious nature has taken us as far as the moon and as deep as the quantum world. Some of our questions are much simpler, like how do I turn this thing on? (Admit it. We’ve all asked that question.) For customer service questions one of the most powerful tools is the FAQ.

A Touch of History 

Whether you say “F-A-Q” or “FAQ”, most people will know what you mean. FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions (you knew that, right?) 

Before YouTubers were complaining to their audiences about the same questions showing up in the comments over and over, common questions were being identified in various aspects of business and life.

Treatises of Thomas Aquinas, a philosopher and theologian in the 1200s, attempted to answer questions of “medieval intellectuals, church authorities and everyday people alike”. You could say he created an early FAQ for philosophical christianity. (The Patron Saint of FAQ?) 

In the modern world, everyone from government websites, to schools, to businesses have a FAQ. It’s an effective way of handling the questions that show up repeatedly with as little effort (and cost) as possible.

Just the FAQs

Companies still use the FAQ as a way of bridging the gap between them and their customers. Today there are complex AI tools and huge contact centers handling large volumes of inquiries, but this simple tool still has a place. It helps customers to help themselves when it’s well written and easy to find (This is a key point. Don’t play “hunt the FAQ” with your customers.) 

According to Forrester research, “Use of help or FAQs on a company’s website increased from 67% in 2012 to 81% in 2015 among US online adults”. A 2018 Zendesk study revealed: “Ninety-eight percent of those surveyed have used a self-service solution, including searching a company’s FAQs, help center or other online resources.” 

If a company doesn’t have one, common repetitive questions will end up in their email, chat and phone queues. (Do you ship to Greenland?) This costs companies and customers both money and time.

Neil Patel says a quality online FAQ is a conversion tool. Your customers are indicating interest just by going there. 

The Evolution of the FAQ

No longer limited to text questions and answers, the FAQ has evolved. 

Videos have entered the world of the FAQ. Sometimes it is easier to show a customer an answer rather than to try to explain with words (Now unplug the white cable. But there are 2 white cables!!). Video game FAQs are a great example using hints, step by step instructions, and allowing the player to interact with the FAQ. 

YouTube how to videos have become a standard for learning about…everything. According to Alexa Youtube is the 2nd most visited website of all and:  

“Google announced in October 2018 that it’s investing 20 million into its YouTube Learning initiative, which will pay creators like The Verge and TED-Ed and John Green ’s brother to make even more educational content—explainers, how tos, lectures, et cetera—than they already do.”

Clearly customers want access to knowledge. Are you making it easy for them?

A Quality FAQ:

  • Addresses the most common questions (How do I turn this thing on?)
  • Is well organized
  • Is easy to find (Again, not hide and seek.)
  • Doesn’t replace customer service agents, but complements them
  • Has a method of reaching an agent if the customer question isn’t addressed
  • Drives conversions
  • Improves brand sentiment
  • Shows brand voice
  • Offers customers a cookie (just kidding about that one, but wouldn’t it be nice)

So don’t skip the humble FAQ. Give your customers the information they want and need (and consider the cookie thing).