What are you talking about: Bringing clarity to a service notification

My client needed to update an existing service notification email but with a human voice and according to company standards. The original draft that I received was confusing on two levels. First, the language used nonsensical phrases, making it difficult to understand what the email was referring to. Second, the call to action was unclear in terms of what my client wanted customers to do. Figure 1 shows the original draft.

Original version of service notification with branding removed.
Figure 1. Original version of the email (branding removed)

Digging into the meaning

I had a lot of questions for my client. To begin, I needed to know what a payment instrument was. Was it a credit card, a payment service, or some other magical way companies pay for services? I needed to understand why customers would receive this email, specifically to know what action triggered this email. Then, I needed to figure out what the call to action was, if it was urgent, and why customers were given two different dates. I marked up the draft with my initial guesses as to what my client was trying to convey, but had many comments to help pinpoint answers to my questions. The draft was heavy with comments and tracked changes but my mission was clear (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Marked-up version of the email with comments to the client (branding removed)
Figure 2. Marked-up version of the email with comments for my client (branding removed)

Reassembling the story

After the first round of review by my client, I began to understand what the email needed to achieve. Somehow the payment system let the customer purchase a product after a free trial without having a credit card on file for their account. They needed to add a credit card (payment instrument) to continue using the product by the date indicated to avoid loss of service.

While my client clarified the meaning of payment instrument, they introduced the term billing profile instead of account (my preference) because their customers might have different billing profiles for one account. I also clarified the call to action, leaving only one date and adding an action button to make it easier for the customer to add their credit card (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Final approved version of the email that will go to clients (branding removed)
Figure 3. Final approved version of the email that will go to clients (branding removed)

Polishing for clarity

The email resulted in a clearly worded notification with a defined call to action. The final version offers an enhanced customer experience that avoids ambiguity in regard to what the email was about and what action they had to take.