13

We have a website for an amateur sports club www.cugc.org.uk with a lot of content, we have put a lot of effort into providing all the relevant information to new members or those interested in finding out more about the club.

Despite this we still get a lot of email with same old questions. We added a FAQ section with answers to common questions, but people seem not to read them.

Does anybody know of any successful method directing people to answer on the website rather than sending an email? Perhaps in the same way stack exchange suggests answers as you type the question.

The site is based on Drupal 7.

  • 1
    This seems to be a reformulated version of meta.SO "How can we get people to search for answers on this site instead of posting the same stuff all over again, having to close them as duplicates". Well, no one over there found a solution yet.. – PlasmaHH Oct 22 '14 at 10:04
  • 2
    To read a FAQ, one has to find it. For that, one has to search for it. For that, one has to know that there is such thing as FAQ lists. Also, one has to assume others might have had the same question before. You should try hard to alleviate your users of anything that I wrote after the first comma. – Crissov Oct 22 '14 at 15:15
  • Easiest way i've found to reduce the number of emails people send me, is by not giving them a way to just click a button and email me. :P – cHao Oct 23 '14 at 6:49
  • Based on the useful feedback everybody gave we made the following changes. 1) A new FAQ/Contact link in the main menu, 2) A new FAQ page with more questions that the grouped into themes using drupal.org/project/faq 3) A contact form rather than providing an email address 4) All the 'contact us' part of the website go via the FAQ page. It adds one extra click be ensures that everybody knows about the FAQ before sending an email. So far it seems to be working, we get a lot of traffic to the FAQ page and far less email, thanks. – falcs Nov 14 '14 at 13:30
  • A similar question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/57245/… – drabsv Aug 2 '18 at 10:44
12

This is a very common problem.

Many companies and other large organizations that offer a lot of support solve this by essentially requiring you to go through FAQ-like content before they even provide you with any way to contact them directly. Some take this to such lengths that it is very annoying for those of us who actually have a question not answered by the online material and can't find any way of making contact.

Ultimately, the only real solution is to not be contactable, so it ends up being a balancing act between limiting unwanted contact and having a reasonable way of being contacted.

In your case, that model probably isn't that relevant, since I can't imagine that you want to put a huge amount of effort into this. A few small things I would suggest:

  • Make the FAQ more prominent (in the top navigation).
  • Highlight the questions that you most frequently get asked. Put them at the top of the FAQ, perhaps put them at the top of the contact page, or even put a few questions prominently on the front page with links to the FAQ.

You can't solve this completely, though.

  • 10
    I will second the 'very annoying' when there is no way of actually contacting anyone. – PhillipW Oct 21 '14 at 14:48
  • 1
    You might also consider setting up an auto-reply to new emails at the address in question, stating that you'll get back to their email ASAP, but in the meantime they could look through the FAQ (providing a link to it). Sadly though, this doesn't actually help stop the emails in the first place or your need to respond, it only potentially helps that person find an answer sooner. – kevinmicke Oct 21 '14 at 16:28
  • The ability to contact you via email may even be a legal requirement (for example in Germany) – CodesInChaos Oct 21 '14 at 19:02
  • + Make FAQ page already expanded. Users may not want to click on a title, but rather scroll down. – Dennis Oct 22 '14 at 14:21
15

I was going to post some answer about the user being too hasty or inept at using websites but after looking at your website I would like to gently point out some observations:

  1. Home-page posts appear mashed together and it takes more cognitive load than I am willing to spend in order to understand it. It also looks like there is some important info in some of those posts but my brain says "Nuh uh, moving on..."

  2. In general I see that you are trying to sell me something, so why am I presented with a wall of text?

  3. Every page feels like a wall of text, and there is also no indentation anywhere.

  4. Quite frankly, how do I contact you/your club? I don't see it anywhere.

  5. There are so many videos that I don't know if I should read first and then watch or watch and then read. The videos feel very "thrown in there"

I'm sure this will attract downvotes because I'm not answering your exact question but sometimes the real issue is worth fixing rather than just a symptom.

  • 4
    Quite right. The general form of this answer is that a users goal is not [ever] to spend time emailing support. If this has to happen, normally something has 'gone awry" either in the functionality or the UX. Resolving problem before user needs FAQ is preferable. – Jason A. Oct 21 '14 at 19:29
  • 2
    yeah, upvote. I had a feeling the problem was "because your page is actually just really confusing." – djechlin Oct 22 '14 at 0:07
  • @Jayfang, while I agree that the presentation of information on the site could use improvement, emailing support is not necessarily a sign that things have "gone awry". Some people are just lazy and prefer to email you rather than read the content, no matter how well-organized it is. – user31143 Oct 22 '14 at 5:48
  • 1
    all of these observations are relative, and as such why is it the most up-voted answer? i'm not saying their uniquely relative, i agree with some of them, but i am questioning how this can be a valid method for ascertaining valuable feedback that can be utilized. or in other words, if its just opinion, who is to say what is good or bad? – albert Oct 22 '14 at 7:28
  • 4
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit, the site has been changed since this answer was posted! It was originally quite difficult to find the contact information. – user31143 Oct 22 '14 at 14:39
4

You could dynamically show related questions from the FAQ when the user types in the contact form (this assumes you have a contact form instead of telling the users to send an email directly). You probably need to implement some sort of fuzzy search or look for certain keywords for this to work effectively.

Stack Exchange does a similar thing in the Ask Question form. When you start typing, it tries to find existing similar questions:

Stack Exchange Ask Question form

  • 1
    This is actually really difficult to implement well (think about synonyms, misspelling, word order relevance, etc.), and if there aren't many topics/answers in the FAQ, it could be confusing to the user and more trouble than it's worth. – Chase Sandmann Oct 22 '14 at 16:07
3

Extending part of @dan1111's answer, one other option is adding context to your contact page. One example of this is what Github does under some particular conditions.

Take this page for example. If you scroll down to the very bottom and press the "Contact" link in the footer, it takes you to the contact page however with one minor change.

Github Contact Page

Basically, looking where the user comes from can give insights into what they might be after. If they came from the Join page on your site, you could then show the first few FAQ that relate closely to that.

On larger, more complicated sites, this approach can be technically difficult to implement however can be quite powerful.

3

My take: looking at the page I see video, text, weather, faq, trial flights, costs, competitions, learning, gallery, join, contact, learning, the club, search, advertisement, links to gliding pages, 10+ links to blog pages, upcoming events, support & fundraising.

Reading another answer about cognitive overload, I agree, that it is a little intimidating.

I'd say you need to sit down and have a serious group think about what kind of experience you want to give to the user. Namely, it reminds me of this:

enter image description here

To answer more directly: to minimize the number of emails you get, you need to minimize overwhelming the user with information, and find ways to present relevant information at relevant time during the user experiencing their journey throughout the website.

One question to ask yourself that may help is "is this website text/image/video/block right here absolutely needed and required to be on this very page in this spot, or can I remove it with the user still getting the main experience that I want them to have"? Remove and move blocks accordingly.

You may need to do some user testing. What do most users come to the site for? Is it just one thing, possibly two different things, or are they really going for a bit of everything? If 80% of users flock to one, two, or three things on the website, put those things first and foremost, put everything else away, including links, images, videos, and text, and have a link directing them to "everything else".

Side-note: having too much email is a great problem to have. You are getting some serious user hits! Next step is profit!

2

Building on @dan1111 's suggestion to "make the FAQ more prominent", consider implementing a task-centric help solution, which places on the screen help content relevant to what the user is doing.

So your application could feature a prominent "help" button: Help button in top nav; help content is not activated or displayed

When the "help" button is pressed, the page content gets squished to the left to make room for the help content on the right (the observant will notice that the help content is encapsulatd within divs that are shaded a blue similar to the help button):

help content is now activated and displayed

The Frequently Asked Questions tab allows the user community to search your help knowledgebase while also offering them the opportunity to contribute to it:

Frequently Asked Question tab is activated

2

If you have a lot of users wanting to ask questions, it might be time to start an online forum. Other members of your community might be willing to answer those questions.

1

If you have a Contact Us page rather than just listing your email somewhere, you can specifically state on that page that most questions will be answered by the FAQ. Provide a link to the FAQ even if it's one of the top navigation tabs just to make it really easy for users to go there and find their own answers.

If you're still getting too many emails after that, you could make a required checkbox to submit the form that says

[ ] I have read the FAQ

That way, the users must at least acknowledge the fact that a page exists that might answer their questions before they send you emails.

  • 5
    -1: As a user, when I want to write e-mail contact to anyone, I fid this kind of checkboxes very annoying. And in most of the cases I am voting with my wallet: "Oh, you do not want to talk with me? OK, I will buy from someone else..." – Pavel Janicek Oct 22 '14 at 6:32
  • Maybe it's just me, but when I have questions, I'd rather try to figure out the answer myself than wait for whoever works in Customer Relations to get back to me... if they're even going to. The only time I contact the owners of the site is when I'm sure the answer can't be found anywhere else. If there's a source I haven't looked at, I would want to try that first. – Chase Sandmann Oct 22 '14 at 15:58
  • I agree with @PavelJanicek. Yes, making the FAQ info available from the "contact us" is a good idea. But the checkbox comes across as condescending. – user31143 Oct 24 '14 at 5:02
0

In a completely different venue, I would like to suggest putting a support phone number in a prominent spot on the site (even if for a trial period of time), and allow users to call in or text with their questions. Be sure to mention that you can also text for those who prefer not to call. You may even want to get a separate phone line for that just in case, which you can cancel later.

I think the conversations that you, or your support staff, will receive and have with users will help you tremendously in answering your question, in ways that you yourself, or responders here may not have seen or expected.

It will minimize emails :) at expense of increasing another medium of communication.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.