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Fashioning an FAQ for Your eBay Auctions

Customers always have questions. It's the nature of things. Whenever you get involved with a transaction where you're parting someone from their money and giving something in return, the party giving up the money always wants to know some detail or other. And who can blame them? Like our grade school teachers told us, the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.

Online buyers want to ask questions, too, but they also want to finish their transactions quickly and efficiently. That gives you, the seller, a unique opportunity to delight your customers by answering their concerns and providing the answers in an easy-to-access way. A simple frequently asked questions document (or FAQ) does the job perfectly.

Although it doesn't take too much time to create an FAQ, it does take thought. Write your FAQ from the customer's perspective and with the customer's concerns in mind. Answer real questions — the kind of questions that you want answers to when you buy things. An FAQ populated with pointless entries like How Does Your Company Offer Great Products at Such Low Prices? just irritates customers. Your customers get more than enough irritation every day without adding more of it from an online seller. You want to please your customers, not drive them away.

The best FAQs use a simple "heading and question" layout. Again, you don't need an amazing-looking FAQ — you need an FAQ with amazing content. It clearly identifies its purpose in the world, includes a basic navigation bar and company branding at the top, and invites customers to browse through the page contents and see if their question is answered in there. It also gives customers two easy ways to ask a question that's not covered: the Ask Us Something navigation bar item and the Ask Us link in the text. The questions themselves come from real experiences with real customers.

Some FAQs list a few questions two or three times, with slightly different wording. By posing a question in different ways, you make the answer accessible to the broadest possible audience. In this case, an experienced online buyer might ask if the company accepts payments via PayPal, but someone new to the online world just wants to know how to pay for stuff in general. By including both questions in the FAQ (Do You Accept PayPal and How Should I Pay for My Purchase), you make the information easy for both people to find.

Make your FAQ a living document by consistently adding to it. When customer questions come through your e-mail, think about adding the answer to the FAQ. Or if the FAQ already contains the answer, try to figure out why the customer didn't find it there. Did she look in the FAQ and fail to find the answer, or did she miss the FAQ in the first place? Use what you discover to make your FAQ as complete, useful, and available as possible. Your customers will thank you!

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