Anything that makes a sale harder than it needs to be spells big trouble ahead for a business. In this day and age, I'm surprised that there are still so many businesses that seem to be completely oblivious of technology. They have outdated systems, they are mercilessly inflexible and they don't even realize the writing is on the wall predicting the end of their business.

Paperwork seems to be one area stuck in the Jurassic period for some businesses. This is reflected in the use of over-complicated, hard-to-use and impossible-to-understand paperwork. Such paperwork and forms have often evolved over time. Things have been added but nothing has been removed, and no one has sat down and looked at ways to improve the system.

I recommend that every business should review its forms and paperwork at least once a year. Make sure that it is simple to use--give a sample of your new layout to a friend who doesn't really understand your business and see if they can fill out the form easily. If they can't, how can your customers? Take out anything that is unnecessary or outdated, and if you have to add anything, keep it to a minimum.

And if there is a fax involved, in any shape or form, let it go. I bought my first fax machine 35 years ago for $5000. The only place for a fax today is in a museum, yet just yesterday I was trying to book a venue for a workshop and they insisted on sending their booking form through by fax (yes, it's 2018). It got so complicated and ridiculous, to the point where they want to fax the documents to a post office and I would have to go there and collect the paperwork, fill it in and fax it back. Uhmmm, no thanks. It's easier to find a new venue.

Of course, in reality, most forms should be online forms. But enlightenment can take time to reach some businesses. What message does enforcing completely outdated communication procedures send? Not a very good one. 

We all need to take a very active stance to reduce complicated paperwork. For a lot of people, complicated forms are enough of a reason not to buy a product. Imagine how people who have difficulty with reading and writing must feel when they are handed a twenty-page application form.

Look at all of your business's paperwork. Every form should be reviewed periodically and made easier to use. Your customers will definitely appreciate it and so will your bottom line. If you're still using a fax, there is a probably an out of date process not far behind, maybe today is the day to update it.

Published on: Sep 25, 2018