This post was guest-written by Andrew Chen, Bazaarvoice Product Manager

Every day, consumers are faced with frustrating barriers to purchasing. They come close to making a purchase decision, but get stuck trying to get critical questions answered in order to feel like they are making a well-informed, confident purchase.

With the pace of today’s consumer marketplace, product marketing, product documentation, customer support, and channel marketing frequently fall short of consumer needs and expectations. Filling these gaps is Ask & Answer’s sweet spot.

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If you’re an Ask & Answer client, there is a great opportunity ahead of you – but you need to know how to make the most of it. Many clients like JCWhitney are reaping the rewards. The questions your customers ask are a clue toward what they care about prior to purchase. The frequency of particular types of questions will highlight areas of pent-up customer demand, whether business is successful or lacking.

Every unanswered question is a plea from the customer for help. If you can provide that help – and encourage the community to participate – then you not only solve that person’s problem, but you solve it for everyone else who has the same question for the life of the product. That’s powerful.

But how do you get from here to there? Over the next few weeks, these series of blog posts will show real client examples of evolution through the Ask & Answer stages of maturity, as well as the challenges faced, and the unique lessons learned along the way. By the end, you’ll be familiar with these stages and how to attain success at each level:

Level 0: Before You Deploy
Level 1: Deploying on Category Pages
Level 2: Deploying on Product Pages
Level 3: Cross-departmental Participation
Level 4: Engaging Manufacturers and Vendors
Level 5: Advanced Programs and Integrations

Creating a successful Q&A community isn’t rocket science. But it does take commitment, an understanding of how to measure success, and the discipline to follow through. It demands commitment from the company, not just the Web team. Turbo-charging your Q&A community does take effort, but the payoff is huge – increased conversion rates, reduced product returns, decreased customer support volume, and brand loyalty.

Are you taking full advantage of your Q&A community?

For more information, request “Harnessing the Power of Community Q&A: A Practical Guide for Boosting Revenue and Increasing Customer Satisfaction.” And stay tuned to our blog for examples of clients who are making the most of their online Q&A.

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