Often hidden, the effects of poor written communication can be devastating. Poorly written emails, unclear procedures and long-winded reports can cost your organisation money through lost productivity, loss of potential customers or the need to correct costly errors. Poor written communication may even lead to reputational damage.
Case study 1. Poor written communication loses valuable business
The requirement. Noname Technology Pty Ltd communicates with their large customer base via email. The company also encourages their customers to refer to the frequently asked questions section of their website and provides regular updates via their Facebook page. Noname Technology offers a sound product and employs qualified staff with excellent technical skills.
The reality. Sales have been steadily decreasing.
The problem. Noname Technology staff have poor written communication skills. Emails to customers frequently contain grammatical and typographical errors. The tone of the emails is often abrupt, giving the impression that the company does not value their customers. Answers in the frequently asked questions section of their website site are long-winded, technical and confusing.
How can Noname Technology improve their competitive advantage?
The solution. A combination of training their staff in email writing skills, and having their website and Facebook pages professionally edited, will vastly improve the professionalism of Noname Technology. The company could also consider testing prospective employees’ writing ability before offering employment in certain positions.
Case study 2. Low readability increases risk of errors and accidents
The requirement. Anonymous Corporation has long, detailed policy and procedure manuals that meet all their regulatory requirements. Compliance is critical as non-compliance could lead to loss of income and even put lives at risk.
The reality. Few staff refer to the policy and procedure manuals which are perceived as being unhelpful. Instead, staff rely on their memory of past training, ask another team member or operate in a way that was expected in their previous job.
The problem. The content of the policies and procedures is difficult to understand. Sentences are complex and frequently over 30 words. Paragraphs are poorly structured with few headings to help the reader find the information they need and there are no devices to highlight important information.
How can Anonymous Corporation improve staff compliance with policy and procedure?
The solution. Anonymous Corporation could have their policies and procedures professionally edited to comply with internationally accepted plain English standards. They could also consider other forms of communicating the procedures, such as using multi-media applications.
For help increasing readability of your organisation’s written communications, contact Concise Writing Consultancy on +61 2 9238 6638.
To find out how you can become a good writing workplace, download our free ebook Australia’s Written Communication Crisis: 5 Warning Signs Managers Can’t Afford to Ignore.