3 big reasons your organisation should think about its language - Business Works
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3 big reasons your organisation should think about its language

Nick Parker, The Writer How much does your business pay attention to the language it uses? Do you pay much attention to the words you write at work? To help you think about this, take this handy quiz:

  1. Does your organisation have a tone of voice?
    1. Oh yes, and we use it really effectively.
    2. Er, Im not sure. Theres a page on it in our brand guideline document I think.
    3. Whats a tone of voice?
  2. Whats the standard of writing like inside your organisation?
    1. Oh, its great. We all write sharp, insightful emails and interesting PowerPoint presentations.
    2. We try to write in plain English but its a losing battle to be honest.
    3. Help! Were dying of boredom and drowning in jargon!

How did you do? Most organisations dont really think about their language. Yet theyre missing a massive opportunity to make and save money, and shape their organisations culture. And I dont just mean in a vague 'it's nice to have nice words' way. I mean in a tangible bottom-line way. To go a little way to persuading you to think harder about this, here are three big reasons you should take your words seriously.

  1. Sharper words mean happier customers

    There are so many ways companies measure how they interact with their customers these days that its easy to change just one variable like your writing style and see the effect it has. That could mean rewriting call centre scripts to cut call-handling times (a whopping £6 million for one client of ours); changing the tone of your responses to complaints and watching the effect it has on your repeat complaint levels (a drop of 8% for the same client); or rewriting help pages or customer guides, and tracking calls from confused customers to your helpdesks (a 20% drop for another client). These days, whatever metrics you use, the chances are therell be a way to measure the impact that changing your writing has.

  2. Sharper words will engage your own people more

    Its not just externally that your words can make an impact. Sometimes you can see quite specific improvements. A large telecommunications company we work with saw a 20 per cent increase in people filling in their annual performance review forms after they re-wrote them in a more human way. Sometimes its more general: after a whole series of workshops with social housing company Testway Housing, a spot check by Investors in People noted that their focus on making their writing less formal and more natural had had 'a significant positive impact' on the culture of their organisation.

  3. Sharper words mean bigger ideas

    OK, so I lied. You cant stick this one on a spreadsheet in quite the same way. But theres growing evidence that the language we use can shape the thoughts were capable of having. One great example of this is linguist Lera Boroditskys recent study into how different groups came up with different ideas for combating urban crime, depending on whether she described the crime problem using the metaphor of crime being 'a beast' or 'a virus'. And we saw another great example of this at one of our clients head offices, where they found they got much better results for their 'operational excellence' initiative from the teams who binned the corporate 'operational excellence' label and instead talked about 'doing everyday things better'.

For more information, please visit: www.thewriter.com

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