We often hear about the qualitative costs of poor writing in business, including decreased motivation, communication breakdowns and a murkier corporate message. The effects of poor writing—and the mistakes and inefficiencies it produces—are difficult to even imagine, much less calculate.
Joseph Kimble’s study, completed back in 2003, is one of the best collection of case studies and statistics I’ve come across. He shares 25 examples of businesses and organizations that improved their bottom line and practices by improving their copy. By crafting writing that’s easier to read, employees make less mistakes, get things done faster and improve relationships with customers.
Here are a few (of the many) powerful statistics:
- When FedEx revised manuals for ground operations employees, the average search time dropped from 5 minutes to 3.6. Better yet, employees found the correct answer 80% of the time, a significant improvement from only 53%. FedEx estimated they save $400,000 per year, just in the time employees spend looking for information. Imagine the additional savings from finding the correct answers more often!
- After General Electric revised a software manual, customer calls and messages to their support team dropped by 125 calls per month. They estimated a savings of $375,000 per year for every single customer with the revised manual.
- By rewriting memos to officers, the US Navy determined they would save $23-37 million each year since officers took 17-23% less time reading.
- When the US Army tested two versions of a business message asking the reader to perform a specific task, those who received a well-written, “high impact” letter were twice as likely to complete the task on the same day they received it.
How about your organization? Do you have any examples of how bad writing is costing you? What about how better writing is saving money and improving business?