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What are FAQs and why do I need them?

November, 2022

No one likes to generate paperwork, but no one likes to be lost for words when answering the questions of a potential customer. Erica Jones, Account Director at PR, marketing and public affairs agency Maxim explains why frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be a valuable business tool, if you take the time to prepare and share them.

What are FAQs?

They are a list of questions and answers. They can relate to your whole organisation; they can also be more targeted, focusing on a particular product or activity. Both options can be useful. A good FAQs list will comprise a series of questions you are likely to be asked about X, with answers that can be used by your staff to help your customers make an informed decision.

Why do I need them?

You may know everything there is to know about X, and you may have had an all-hands briefing to make sure everyone else does, but what about employee A, who was dealing with a customer when you announced the optional extras? Or employee B, who was at home isolating with covid? Or employees C, D, E and F who were all really interested in your briefing but overwhelmed by how much there was to remember?

Being able to provide staff with a simple FAQs list will ensure they really do have all the information they need to talk about product or service X, even if it’s not their area of expertise. This will ensure their answers are consistent and will help to reassure customers that yours is a professional organisation.

But what if my FAQs get into the public domain?

Then your customers will have the answers before they’ve needed to ask the question. A well-prepared set of FAQs isn’t something sinister or secret, it is simply a tool for collating information to be shared, in fact many organisations post FAQs on their website. I’d always rather work through questions in conversation, but it should never be considered a bad thing to provide your customers with the information they need to make an informed decision.

It seems like a big job, where do I start?

I’ll admit, a blank sheet of paper can be daunting, but for FAQs there’s a simple guide. Start your list by asking: What? Why? Where? Who? How?

Depending on your topic, not all of those questions may be relevant, but they are a good starting point: What is X? Why is it a good thing? Where do I use it/try it? Who will use or deliver it? How do I use it? Are some of the ways those questions can be applied. 

Once you’ve started your list, you start answering your questions. This will then, potentially, prompt further questions. The important thing is to have a bit of a brain dump of information that you can sort into sensible answers.

How long should my answers be?

This is a piece of string question, however I’d advise keeping them as brief as possible. If you find you really need 500 words for one answer, look over the answer and see if it can be broken down into a series of questions under one theme. Think of the questions as signposts for your staff to jump between as they search for the information they need.

I have my list, now what do I do?

You share it with your staff. Print it for the staff noticeboard, email it to all customer-facing staff, add it to your intranet, or even put it on the company website. You have a useful list of information, you need to make sure it’s used.

You also need to keep it up-to-date. Revisit the list after a few sales, to consider if any additional questions need adding. Or after an upgrade, when the specification may have changed and customers may appreciate comparative details. 

Is there anything else I need to know?

Don’t be afraid to add a final “anything” question, tying up those lose ends that don’t easily fit into any other topic. 

This article originally appeared in Kent Director in October 2022.


Erica Jones - Account Director

Erica Jones

Maxim / Account Director

posted in: advice, marketing, media relations, public relations,

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