The Hidden Cost of Bad Handwriting

Learn how handwritten documents could be letting your business down

We’ve all been inconvenienced by bad handwriting, whether by a hastily scrawled phone number which turns out to be wrong, or a ‘note to self’ that turns out to be illegible days or weeks after we’ve written it.

Far from being just a minor irritant in your day, bad handwriting could be costing your business and undermining your success. Let’s have a look at some of the ways in which things can go wrong, and what can be done about it.

Wasted time

Trying to decipher someone’s writing when they’re not present to clarify what they meant can be a real time-waster. Does that purchase order say 1,000 or 1,600? Riordan Rd, or Rearden Rd?

If you’re confronted with this scenario, you’ll need to stop what you’re doing and chase up the writer to check what they meant. This could place timelines in jeopardy if the person can’t be contacted or can’t remember what they intended.

The longer a task takes to complete and the more stops and starts involved, the more stressful it is for staff and the more likely it is that things get missed or mistakes get made. There’s also a knock-on effect on those whose work depends on yours.

Wasted money

The above scenario is not only costly in terms of staff time wasted, but could cost you real money if someone reads a 6 or a 9 as a zero and orders the wrong quantity of goods, or types up a contract with incorrect values for prices, quantities or dates. You may find yourself being held to a contract you can’t actually deliver on, and the potential for legal difficulties or at least loss of good will with clients and suppliers.

Compromised safety

It’s easy to see how poor handwriting could be dangerous in a medical setting – doctors writing unclear prescriptions or instructions could result in patients getting the wrong medications or treatments.

But there are situations in the trades where illegible handwriting could also be dangerous; for example, when dealing with chemicals, explosives, or pressurised gases.

Compromised safety

Frustrated customers

Suppose your field crew reads the address on a job card as ‘3 Smith St’ instead of ‘8 Smith St’. They turn up at number 3 and complete the work when it should have been completed at number 8. You’ve now got double trouble – the folks at number 3 get home to find they’ve had work done that they didn’t request, likely didn’t want, and certainly won’t pay for, and the folks at number 8 are still waiting for what they wanted.

Or suppose a sales rep writes a part number unclearly when booking in a job. You turn up to install the requested item but the one you picked up from the supplier is not the colour the client thought they ordered, or is a more expensive model. The client either has to accept the incorrect item, or make another appointment with you – either way, they’ve been disappointed, and both your time and theirs has been wasted. You’ve lost some of their trust and you’ll need to work to regain it.

Reputational damage

In the scenario above, where a customer receives the wrong product, their ultimate perception of your business will be based on how the problem is solved. But if this kind of thing happens too often, particularly with your regular clients, your business’s reputation will start to suffer. Clients only have so much patience for mistakes.

Also, now that so much of life is digital, handwritten quotes, purchase orders or invoices could make your business look dated and out of touch. Printed or emailed documents help give your clients confidence in your business.

A better approach

It’d be great if we could persuade all staff to write neatly all the time, but that’s probably unrealistic. Despite good intentions, people get busy and old habits die hard.

But imagine if you could eliminate handwriting from your business entirely, or at least minimise it. You can, with AroFlo’s cloud-based job management software. Everything you’re currently managing with pen and paper can be done in AroFlo – faster, and with a lower risk of error and confusion:

These are just a few of things you can automate with AroFlo.

What’s bad handwriting costing your business? Is it time to make the move to an electronic solution? When you’re ready, get in touch and we’ll put AroFlo through its paces for you. Once you see what’s possible, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.