Is it time to invest in technical writing for your organization? There’s no doubt technical writing will give you a major return on your investment, but how will it mean more money for your business? Well, technical writing can reduce the time your employees spend looking for information, cut down on unnecessary work, increase customer satisfaction, help you meet legal requirements, and improve the employee experience.
Let’s Look at each of those benefits more closely.
Technical Writing Reduces Time Spent Looking for Information
How many hours have your employees wasted in the past month looking for information in manuals? Or how often have they run into conflicting information? When it’s something they need for their day-to-day work, whether it’s a phone number, an email address, an operational procedure, or a template, time spent double-checking is time that work is not getting done.
Many organizations don’t have clear procedures in their operations manuals or other documents. Necessary details could be in several different booklets and packets, emergency documents could have incorrect or outdated information, or there could be a lack of how-to documents altogether. Organizations that go without these basic documents or that have manuals that are missing key details require employees to dig through old files, messages, or emails in the hope of uncovering the information they need.
And if employees can’t find the specific information they need in existing–but poorly organized–documents or manuals? They’ll have to ask a co-worker or manager for assistance, wasting another employee’s time. It can be staggering to consider the amount of time your employees might be wasting looking for the most basic information! Not only that, incorrect or outdated information can result in improper use of machinery, which might lead to costly repairs or unusable products.
Technical writing, though, can cut down on frustrating legwork and errors that result from faulty information. Manuals that are well-planned and well-written will have all the necessary details your employees need to complete their day-to-day work without constant searching. When FedEx, for example, took the time to rewrite their operations manuals, they were able to cut down the time employees spent looking for correct information by 80%. In just one year, the company saw $400,000 in savings! And that doesn’t include the time and money spent finding answers that turned out to be incorrect.
Technical Writing Can Reduce Unnecessary Work
If your customers use manuals that come with your equipment or product, are they struggling to understand what they need to do? Unclear language can lead to confusion, misused or misunderstood products, and legal problems. It’s also likely that your customers are reaching out to your organization again and again with the same few questions. This could mean you need to hire more representatives to meet call demand or that your representatives have less time to serve other customers.
Technical writers’ training and experience, though, includes how to use plain language designed with the end user in mind. By writing in easy-to-understand language and using formatting that helps your users easily identify what they need to do, writers can improve your end-user manuals and other documents.
A great example of how clear writing can help both an organization and its audience is the US government’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its CB radio regulations. Before the rewrite, the FCC had five full-time employees fielding questions about the regulations. After technical writers rewrote the documents using plain language designed for the audience, the FCC found a way for all five employees to contribute in other departments.
Clearer writing can also reduce time spent re-reading and understanding documents. When the United States Navy worked on the readability of its memos, officers’ reading time was cut by 17 to 27%, resulting in $27 to $37 million in savings. A second look at the results found that the savings could be between $53 and $73 million, and including all Navy personnel, not just officers, meant that savings could have been more than $350 million a year!
Technical Writing Can Increase Customer Satisfaction
Unclear language and incomplete manuals can also lead to a dip in customer satisfaction. If your clients are constantly having to call with questions, or misunderstanding the information they’ve been given, they might misuse (or even break) your product and become frustrated with your company. Both could result in your customer base going to your competition or no longer using your service or products. And unhappy customers are unlikely to inform the company – but they are likely to share their bad experience with 9 to 14 other people.
Not only do your customers need to be able to understand your written documentation, but, if they do call with a question or concern, your employees need to be able to address that issue correctly, quickly, and consistently. Manuals your employees are referencing during these calls need to include information that is standard across all departments. You can’t have one employee tell a customer one answer, and another employee tell another customer something else.
Clear technical writing, therefore, can cut down on customer calls, concerns, confusion, and need for clarification. General Electric took the time to rewrite their software manuals and as a result, saw an average of 125 fewer calls per day from customers –. GE estimates this saved them about $375,000 per customer.
With the need for fewer support calls or emails, you can spend your resources better elsewhere and for higher-value issues. Your customers will also reap the benefits, as your support team will not be spending more time than is sustainable and can spend additional time with them. And with increased customer satisfaction and improved customer experience, you will see more return customers – and it’s cheaper to retain customers than gain new ones. It will also help with word-of-mouth marketing.
Technical Writing Helps You Meet Legal Requirements
Submitted reports and documentation regularly need to meet legal standards and requirements. Not being compliant with these laws or regulations can lead to rewrites of documentation or even fines. For organizations that must send research to the government to continue their work or start development on a project, incorrect statements, disorganized data, or formatting issues could cause the government to reject a document or require the company to start their research all over.
Whether it’s a missed deadline or incorrect information given to a regulatory entity, these issues can compound and cause further problems for your company – and not just project delays. Not being compliant can also result in massive fines. Too many compliance or legal problems can even spell the end of an organization.
Technical writers, though, understand what regulatory bodies are looking for when it comes to these documents, manuals, data, and forms. They can help organizations properly collect and format any information so it can go out on time and right the first time.
When you hire a technical writer, your employees can spend less time researching government and industry regulations, necessary forms, and deadlines, and more time on the work they were hired to complete. You can see reduced project delays and fewer fines too.
Technical Writing Can Improve the Employee Experience
Tedious tasks like searching endlessly for information or answering the same customer questions day after day can lead to a poor work experience for your employees. Badly written employee handbooks can also lead to confusion, lack of standards across all of your departments, and even legal problems. This, in turn, can mean unmotivated employees or high turnover, increasing the need for additional hires and causing hiring and onboarding costs to skyrocket.
Working with a technical writing team and improving manuals, end user documents, and employee handbooks, though, can improve the overall employee experience too. Technical writers also can help with safety (HSE) and quality manuals to ensure that safety protocols are top-of-mind and every employee knows what to do in an emergency. Not only will these steps help to reduce employee turnover, lower hiring and onboarding costs, and improve safety, companies hiring experienced writers will see increased productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction in their employees.
There’s no doubt that technical writing can save your organization time, effort, and, of course, money. By working with an experienced team, you can see improvements in your documentation, your customer experience, and your employee experience. Even if you already have manuals or other documentation, a professional review could mean big savings for your organization. Whether you’re starting from scratch or having a team review your current manuals, how much will your business save by working with a technical writing team?
Cutting costs isn’t always easy, but it’s quite possible your team could do so simply by having an experienced technical writing team look at your documentation. For over 25 years, the Shea team has been helping businesses like yours improve their documentation, from manuals to employee handbooks. If you’re curious how we can help you, too, start with our case studies to see how our technical writers have helped other organizations save money, reduce effort, and meet compliance regulations. To learn more about our work or to set up a meeting, you can reach our team here.