Season 1, Episode 60

Amazon Escalations: The Do’s & Don’ts 

Spamming Amazon executives with begging & emotional language might feel gratifying in the moment, but it’s also more than likely going to keep your appeal unresolved. In this episode Chris and Leah discuss the correct way to escalate to higher-ups at Amazon so you get reinstated as quickly as possible.

Show Notes


[00:00:07] Chris: Hey everybody. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. This is Chris McCabe. I’m here with Leah McHugh. How are you doing, Leah?

[00:00:15] Leah: Good, how are you?

[00:00:16] Chris: Good, it’s been an exciting week or two, shake up at the top, right? The executive ranks in Amazon. Not just splashing news stories that Dave Clark, the head of logistics or the head of the global consumer worldwide consumer, we always love some of these different titles and what they mean, but he’s a big one to be leaving because he reported directly to the CEO, Andy Jassy. Some thought at one point that he might have been the next CEO to succeed Jeff last year. And the fact that he’s leaving is a big deal in our world because a lot of sellers have come to escalate things to Dave Clark. And whether they’re tweeting and mentioning him by name or tweeting his handle or emailing him directly or emailing some of his direct reports, which would be senior VPs that work directly for him.

And mentioning him by name and the escalation, people who have listings taken down, or of course an entire account suspended are grasping for straws and looking for ways to get an appeal properly reviewed. Right? This is why a lot of people come to us for help. They’ve already tried to appeal it themselves.

They’ve already tried to contact some VPs who have ignored them or bounced it around their own teams, transferred it to a manager who left it to rot or didn’t review it properly and the seller typically gets a copy and paste response similar to what they received before. So what do they do? What do a lot of us do? You start climbing the ladder to somebody higher, right? A higher level executive.

[00:01:44] Leah: Well, I think too many people that are probably jumping the ladder and trying to go directly to the top and that doesn’t really achieve anything other than burning a bridge for later.

[00:01:53] Chris: Yeah. I mean, somebody like Dave Clark, he leaves July 1st, but before that emailing him, you might hope that you’re going to get taken a bit more seriously, but he might also be transferring it around. It’s important to know how the reshuffle at the top goes and who replaces him or who reports to who? It’s good to have an idea of what the food chain looks like, because when you’re stuck when the appeal is not being properly reviewed, you have to customize these escalations. We keep saying this over and over. You’re not just winging it. Throwing some words on a page, demanding to be taken seriously.

[00:02:28] Leah: Or just sending your same appeal to everybody you can find the email for we see that far too often, unfortunately.

[00:02:36] Chris: We’re alarmed at how often we see spamming of the executive ranks at Amazon, hoping for a different result, even though you’ve already been rejected several times with the same plan of action you’re over-confident in how good the plan of action is, or you’ve written a simple appeal saying I’m a small business owner. We love Amazon, or we hate Amazon, we want you to look at this, Jeff. People do still write to Jeff.

[00:02:57] Leah: Yeah. And Jeff still does sometimes work, certainly not in the way that he used to. But I mean, I think the biggest thing, and this is also something we’ve been saying for a very long time, is that an escalation isn’t just sending your appeal to somebody else. An escalation is two parts, the escalation letter, which is your explanation as to why it needs to be escalated, which has to be something going wrong on Amazon’s side. And also the appeal, just sending your appeal to everybody you can possibly get your hands on is not going to result in any sort of movement.

[00:03:30] Chris: Right. Or just Dear Jeff, we’ve been sellers for a long time. We’ve been treated poorly. I understand the desire to put that content in there. I understand at some times, you know, the value of including that, but that’s not enough. And I think what scares me most about some of the escalation sellers write for themselves or sellers who hire somebody else out to write it for them, or that they have VA’s do it or their own internal staff, whatever there’s tons of stuff missing from these things. So, don’t expect to be taken seriously at higher levels of the company, if you have decided to target those people with unserious, incomplete appeal content, that’s what we don’t understand. I understand the emotional need to be taken seriously. And you want to be heard. All of us want to be heard, especially at moments of financial duress and business stress.

This is not the way to go about it. If you are escalating to different VPs, if you’re sending it will stay with Dave Clark since sending it to somebody like him who reports directly to the CEO, I would want to make sure as a business owner, as a brand owner, that it is exactly what he expects to read or his staff expects to read.

And you are a hundred percent sure that you haven’t left anything out and you’re a hundred percent sure you haven’t put anything in that shouldn’t be in it.

[00:04:47] Leah: Well, and the focus needs to be amazon’s processes aren’t working and it’s negative for Amazon and it’s negative for Amazon’s customers. The focus can’t be, I am not happy with the situation. The focus needs to be on I have done exactly what I’ve been told to do by Amazon. And the process is not working and it needs to be fixed. And that, that can be a number of things. It could be things not being done within the KPIs. It can be things not being reviewed properly. It can be things just not being actioned, but there needs to be– your reason isn’t just, I’m unhappy. I want this change. The reason needs to be you’re in charge of these processes and these processes are not working and that’s bad for sellers and it’s bad for consumers because it means that bad actors are able to get along fairly easily. And people who are following the processes, the way that they’re supposed to be followed are being harmed. And that’s ultimately harmful for Amazon’s customers.

[00:05:41] Chris: And focus instead on who reports to Dave Clark, that you’ve already been to and they haven’t taken action. They haven’t reviewed it. You’ve heard silence. You’ve seen generic copy and paste messages. That’s meaningful that their direct reports aren’t auditing their own teams, senior VPs aren’t managing VPs properly. SOP’s aren’t being used or they’re being disregarded, skipping steps. Right? No measures being taken to correct. A failed process. There’s lots of hype around process. They’re a process obsessed. They’re a data centric process, obsessed company. We never see that in marketplace management. We don’t see it in seller performance.

[00:06:20] Leah: Well, I can see, I can see that the processes are there. The processes just aren’t great or adhered to.

[00:06:26] Chris: Or the SOP is probably need some improving to not just how are they being implemented in team-wide training, I think it’s both. But complaining about "I’ve opened so many cases to seller support and that never worked, or I emailed self-performance. They never got back to me." Whining about those teams. I understand the whining. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be frustrated because those teams aren’t competent or professional grade teams, but having the basis of your escalation being the whining to an executive at Amazon that already knows that seller performance is hopelessly broken. That already knows that seller support is borderline useless. Those executives know that just as much as you do. So you’re telling them something in a complaining fashion that they already know instead of the content you need in the escalation.

How long has it been? Two weeks, three weeks. How much revenue is it cost you? How many of their direct reports have you written to in the past? And by the way, when you’re emailing or contacting these direct reports, whether again, it’s through Twitter, email, other channels, your account manager, who knows, customize the escalations, because if you send it to a VP and they look in your account annotations, and they see that you sent the exact same complaint or appeal to one of their colleagues, what does that tell them? I don’t have to waste time on this. I don’t have to waste time on you. I don’t have to read this.

[00:07:51] Leah:
 Well, and you’re not having to start from scratch every time. I mean, certainly the situation hasn’t changed but it can just be the exact same thing. Like you need to, you need to reconfigure it a little bit, rewrite it and also add the next step like well, the last thing we did was email this person and they ignored us or maybe they responded and then nothing happened or whatever the case may be. You need to be adding to it. But at the same time, you need to keep it short. So sometimes if we add things, it means that something else that you’d had in there before it maybe needs to be removed, that maybe isn’t as relevant now or just wasn’t as important as the last thing that you did.

We’re not saying that you have to like start your novel every single time that you email this in, you can’t just send the same email or the same appeal over and over again and expecting that eventually somebody will actually take it seriously. If it didn’t work once it’s probably really not going to work the third or fourth or fifth or tenth time.

[00:08:43] Chris: Okay. This is not War and Peace. You’re keeping it short, which maybe we don’t emphasize enough, but, stick to the facts. Stick to the points.

[00:08:50] Leah: 
I actually find the shorter I make my escalations, the more likely they are to get a response.

[00:08:55] Chris: Right. If a VP gets an escalation and they delegate it to one of their managers, I mean, it’s coming to them from their boss, so the manager should review it and should take it seriously. But this happens a lot and their inboxes are clogged. The original processes set up, aren’t working properly, as we all know, and escalations are often what’s required to get these listings reinstated or accounts back up. So anybody with a clogged inbox is likely to read something to quickly miss some key salient points or just botch it, so just keep that in mind.

[00:09:29] Leah: And you can be, you can be pushy, but if you start your escalation with a whole bunch of emotional language, they’re probably going to ignore it. You know, it’s again, it’s Amazon, so you want to lay it out like this happened and then it needs to follow a logic. So if plus this equals this, that’s what Amazon’s looking for, starting it with I hate Amazon or I love Amazon is just asking to be ignored.

[00:09:54] Chris: All caps. I don’t know why I thought that died off a while ago.

[00:09:57] Leah: Weird subject lines to try to like, get somebody, to look into it from intrigue or something. All that does is make them not take you seriously. And we saw something that absolutely got read and perhaps laughed at, but not going to actually be taken seriously.

[00:10:13] Chris: Yeah. Key difference. You want them laughing with you not laughing at you and maybe that’s a good line to end on, but we have seen some interesting , Shakespearian subject lines. I think one of them was there’s something rotten in Denmark, which is a Hamlet reference, great. You know, maybe somebody who’s familiar with Hamlet will find that interesting and funny. They probably want to get you out of their way as quickly as possible.

[00:10:37] Leah: I mean, honestly, I would just assume that was spam if I received that.

[00:10:40] Chris: Right. It does look like and sound like spam. So for those of you out there that were English lit or literature majors, which is a small percentage of us, I assume. That might mean something, but you’re doing more than getting their attention. You’re making an argument, you’re making a case and you have to be convincing. So that executive or that manager sits back in their chair or on their couch or on their boat and says, you know what, we didn’t do the right thing when we reviewed this appeal previously and I’m going to reverse the denials that came before.

[00:11:11] Leah: Well, and more importantly, the team that I am in charge of is making mistakes and this could come back and hurt me at some point.

[00:11:18] Chris: It could be escalated to my boss or my direct, who I’m directly reporting to. So questions on escalations, as you know, ecommerceChris always there to answer them. Leah and I talk about this stuff. E-commerce Chris with Leah McHugh, special guest. We talk about this stuff all the time on our own and with you. So feel free to show us escalations right before you hit the send button. And we’ll take a look because hopefully if you’re emailing something to Dave Clark, you understand the seriousness and the gravity of it. And you’re not sending something willy-nilly off the cuff without considering it quite a bit. So thanks for joining us. And thanks, Leah. I’ll talk to you soon.

Hosts & Guests

Chris McCabe

Leah McHugh


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