“Your login is changing”: How a poorly-written subject line creates anxiety for customers

14Dec10

Last week, I got a rather peculiar email from a company whose products I use. Based on the text in the “From” field, I could easily see that the message was from the department that handles online account management and bill payment. But the subject line was another story. It said “Your login is changing”, which immediately made me anxious about whether the changes would have an impact on how I use my account.

If someone told you that “Your login is changing”, how would you interpret that statement? For me, it suggests things like:

– Your username and/or password won’t be valid anymore, and you’ll need to create new ones.

– The process for signing in will be different, maybe involving the security images and security questions that are common with online banking sites.

– You’ll need to login from a different page.

Well, it turns out that none of these was actually the case. In fact, after reading the entire body of the email, I learned that the company was simply redesigning the account management interface and adding some new features. Customers didn’t have to do anything differently, and existing usernames and passwords would remain the same.

In other words, the whole thing was a false alarm, caused by sloppy work with the subject line. To remedy this problem, the company should have written a clear and descriptive subject line such as “We’re enhancing your account management site” or “New features for online account management”. That way, customers wouldn’t feel any anxiety over being forced to change their login credentials or having to use a different login process. Instead, users could focus on whether the new features were useful for them, which is what the company set out to inform their customers about in the first place.



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