In today’s ever-evolving target market or market analysis, small and local businesses play a crucial role in the economy and community. They provide beginner-friendly platforms, business structure or business model, unique products, personalized services, and contribute to the local economy through job creation and tax revenue.

However, the current business landscape can be overwhelming and confusing for both business owners and consumers alike. Many questions and concerns arise when it comes to personal assets, supporting local businesses, from understanding the benefits to navigating the logistics.

That’s why we have created this guide, “Navigating the Essentials: A Little More Love for Local Business FAQs Explained.”

In this article, we will delve into the frequently asked questions surrounding local businesses and shed light on their importance in our society.

Whether you are a business owner looking to gain more visibility or a consumer interested in supporting your local community, this article will provide a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals of local businesses and how we can all progress over time and contribute to their success. So, let us embark on this journey of discovering the essentials of local business and showing them a little more love.

May Appear As A Minor Inconvenience

The repetitive nature of frequently asked questions (FAQs) may appear as a minor inconvenience for local businesses. However, within them lies a valuable opportunity to enhance potential customer service and bolster reputation.

For those who can recall the pre-internet era of working in a business, the familiar routine of answering the same inquiries repeatedly over the phone was a daily occurrence. Whether it was confirming operating hours on New Year’s Eve, clarifying return policies with a receipt, or assuring the unavailability of bananas, these questions seemed never-ending.

It was assumed that the advent of the internet would put an end to this cycle of Q&A. Nevertheless, people continue to ask these common questions, albeit in different online platforms.

This is likely due to the difficulty in locating accurate information or uncertainty regarding the reliability of what they find on online software platform. No customer desires the frustration of arriving at a closed establishment, discovering the absence of vegan options after arriving for dinner, or unexpectedly facing a payment method restriction.

These unexpected surprises have a negative impact on both customer satisfaction and the reputation of a business. Consequently, the online FAQ page emerged as a solution, aiming to mitigate these risks while minimizing the time spent on repetitive inquiries.

However, I have always had reservations about extensive FAQ pages. Not only do they tend to be laborious to navigate, but they may also indicate that a company has failed to address these questions adequately in other customer touchpoints before resorting to an exhaustive list.

While FAQ pages undeniably have their place, they represent just one approach to handling network of customers’ most common queries. Today, let us explore innovative business ideas to enhance or supplement FAQ implementations.

How to gather, sort, and assign your local business FAQs

Image showing 3 steps to FAQ management

1. Gather FAQs from multiple sources

Image showing FAQ for The Butcher's Son Vegan Delicatessen

Conduct interviews with your in-store and phone/text staff, as well as those responsible for managing website forms and your email inbox, in order to gain insights into the most commonly asked customer questions. It is recommended to document these questions in a spreadsheet or other suitable asset. To establish a more structured approach, encourage your staff to log these questions in a centralized document over a specific timeframe, ideally ranging from 3 to 6 months.

Additionally, include any inquiries received through the Questions and Answers section of your Google Business Profile, as well as via your social media platforms.

For businesses operating at a single location, a single sheet should be sufficient to record all this valuable information. However, in the case of multiple locations, it is advisable to allocate a separate sheet for each branch. This will allow for seamless identification of questions pertaining to specific locales.

2. Sort your sheet into different category buckets

Image showing FAQ spreadsheet

Employ a systematic approach in categorizing your inquiries by type. Group questions pertaining to operational details, such as business hours and open days, into one column. Similarly, allocate a separate column for queries regarding amenities, such as restroom facilities or outdoor seating.

Each primary category of questions should be assigned a dedicated column for comprehensive analysis. It may be beneficial to include a remark if your staff frequently encounters particular inquiries or if you consistently come across the same questions across various platforms and profiles.

For any miscellaneous or one-time questions, consider creating a catch-all column.

While a single sheet should suffice for a singular business location, it is advisable to create distinct sheets for each branch of a multi-location brand. This distinction is crucial as one of your establishments may encounter a significant volume of parking-related questions, whereas another location may never receive such inquiries due to its unique setting.

3. Assign your FAQs to the right resources

Image showing the different categories to sort FAQ. The categories are: home, about, location, & product

After conducting a thorough analysis and categorization of your frequently asked questions (FAQs), you are now prepared to locate the most suitable placements for them.

It may come as a surprise to discover that certain inquiries remain unanswered throughout your website, listings, or profiles. This realization can be truly illuminating.

Recently, I encountered a website that necessitated customer login to access a particular resource. However, there was no apparent and easily identifiable login link anywhere on the site.

It is undeniable that the business must face daily inquiries regarding this obstacle.

Essential to Assess the Effectiveness

However, it is essential to assess the effectiveness of your website in providing answers to any questions. It is crucial to ensure that the answers are placed in the most suitable locations. Consider the following recommendations:

  • For businesses with multiple locations, it is advisable to display the most frequently asked questions on their respective location landing pages.
  • Single-location businesses should identify appropriate sections, such as the homepage, contact page, and about page, to address the most commonly asked questions.
  • Questions related to specific products should be addressed on the relevant product pages.
  • Display important questions on your Google Business Profiles’ Questions and Answers section, and provide comprehensive answers. As the business owner, you have the authority to do so.
  • Create a concise video where you address the top 5 frequently asked questions as quickly as possible, and upload it to your Google Business Profiles.

Top Q&As in the Company Descriptions

  • Include your top Q&As in the meta descriptions of your social media profiles, and occasionally share them as posts. For example, during December, you could share a post stating, “Yes, we are open on New Year’s Eve! Come and visit us!”
  • Certain questions may be better suited for in-store signage, such as FAQs regarding returns, shipping, or gift cards.
  • Although random questions that end up in your catch-all column may not be typical FAQs, they can still be used to generate valuable content for your social media profiles and Google Updates future posts. For instance, a question like, “I’m currently having lunch here. Are there any other interesting activities within walking distance?” could inspire creative content ideas or content creation tools and engage other customers. You could respond with a blog post highlighting nearby attractions like a dog park, a history museum, or a music store.
  • In the fourth quarter of 2023, Claire Carlile discovered that Google Messaging can be automated to provide answers to FAQs. If you utilize this service, follow her suggestions to ensure swift responses to common customer queries. You can adopt a similar approach for text messaging responses and chatbots.
  • Personally, I believe placing customer interactions on hold during phone calls is one of the most frustrating experiences for consumers. If it is absolutely necessary for your business, consider replacing the on-hold music with a pleasant and informative message from your brand. This message can also include answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, enhancing the customer experience.

So, what about having a local business FAQ page?

Certainly, it is absolutely possible for you to possess one. However, I would like to offer you my utmost suggestion: endeavor to identify the frequently posed inquiries that you encountered at various sites and ascertain if you can succinctly encapsulate their answers into a solitary paragraph positioned at the forefront of the page, much akin to the following example:

Image showing FAQs about Kind Hearts Cafe

Certainly, obtaining a single answer is certainly possible. However, I would like to offer you an essential suggestion: compile the most frequently asked questions that you have come across from all our locations and summarize them succinctly in the opening paragraph.

It is not uncommon to encounter lengthy and cumbersome FAQ pages, and by providing a condensed overview, it demonstrates our commitment to ensuring customer convenience. To provide comprehensive information, consider including links within the paragraph to direct users to more detailed answers either further down the page or on other relevant pages on our website.

A Traditional Q&A Format

While it is not feasible to address every inquiry within this paragraph, some visitors may prefer a traditional Q&A format on an FAQ page. Therefore, it is advisable to include a dedicated section for this purpose following the initial summary.

To facilitate swift access to the desired answers, categorize the FAQs by type according to the buckets you have created in your spreadsheet. If your business operates across multiple locations, ensure that each branch has its own respective tab.

Finally, conclude the page with a clear call to action, encouraging customer loyalty to reach out to us directly. For local companies, websites serve as valuable customer service tools, but they should never replace the personalized communication and assistance that comes from interacting with customers individually.

Provide various options for target audience or target customers to get in touch with us, such as walk-ins, bookings, orders, text messages, phone calls, emails, filling out a form, and accessing our social media profiles. Do not overlook the importance of guiding customers towards the understanding that we genuinely value their feedback and desire to hear from them.

Summing Up

FAQ pages are a crucial asset that many local businesses believe they should possess. However, by purposefully gathering, organizing, and allocating this type of content, you may uncover additional platform for people where common questions and answers can be more impactful than if confined to a single page.

Every query you compile should be approached with the mindset of, “Why is the customer not readily finding this information on my website, listings, and profiles?” What may seem obvious about your business to you, might be unclear to those you wish to serve.

Expanding the avenues through which customers can obtain answers is a prudent practice. The straightforward process we have examined has the potential to unearth valuable insights that you may have overlooked, ultimately enhancing the user experience and bolstering your brand’s reputation for exceptional customer service.

Thus, allocating some extra attention to FAQs is a worthwhile investment of time and effort, as the outcomes often yield valuable insights for your team.

In Conclusion

As we wrap up this guide, it’s important to remember the impact that supporting local businesses can have on our communities. From providing jobs to boosting the local economy, every dollar spent at a local business goes a long way.

By understanding and utilizing the various resources and FAQs outlined in this post, we can all do our part in showing a little more love for local businesses. Let’s continue to support and uplift our neighbors and local entrepreneurs, because when local businesses thrive, our communities thrive.

Thank you for reading and happy shopping!

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