Season 1, Episode 130

Do Your Job

One pressing issue currently surfacing is the increased difficulty in dealing with account health services. Many sellers have expressed frustration, highlighting a trend of receiving unhelpful, conflicting, or even rude responses from representatives. In this episode, Chris & Leah delve into the growing frustration among Amazon sellers regarding these unpleasant experiences & practical strategies to effectively navigate them.

Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00:00] Chris: Hey everybody. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. I’m Chris McCabe with Leah McHugh of ecommerceChris and today we’re going to speak briefly, I hope, about the angst around account health services calls. We’re hearing from numerous sellers, clients, and otherwise regarding the degree of attitude they’re getting. Or unhelpful info, conflicting info. We’ve done previous episodes about account health reps contradicting each other, giving paradoxically opposite views about things that change from call to call. So that’s nothing new. What’s kind of new at least in the last month or two, I think is some of the comments, and I guess rude pushback.

[00:00:47] Chris: We had a client recently who said they had a straight up rude call where the person was calling them back. And they called with a chip on their shoulder or a bone to pick, but they weren’t there to resolve the issue, right? They were basically just there to call out the seller.

[00:01:01] Leah: Oh, I’m sure they just were told to call them and just did it, you know. They refused to listen to anything they had to say. They refused to look up anything in their system to confirm that what they were saying was correct.

[00:01:13] Chris: And sellers are getting more savvy about calling some of these reps out on things that don’t make sense. On things that completely contradict what their colleagues are saying.

[00:01:25] Leah: Which is probably why they’re annoyed.

[00:01:27] Chris: Which is why they’re annoyed, right? You’re supposed to just sort of lay down, listen to it, accept whatever they say is gospel. And sellers, over the last couple of years especially, are better at pointing out discrepancies, incomplete info, misleading info. We’ve got more people that want to hire us to say, look, account health simply took me down the wrong road, told me to listen to their guidance and all it did was hurt us it didn’t help, but just harmed us. And obviously if you follow their advice and then my former teams or seller performance ended up saying, Oh, sorry you followed the wrong advice from our teams, but now we’re not going to respond anymore. And now we’re going to deny your appeals permanently. That’s a really bad look for internal management of Amazon teams.

[00:02:13] Leah: Yeah, I’m sure it would be if they cared. I don’t really get any sense that they care about how that looks to their internal teams. What I do find interesting is that sellers are expected to be professional when they speak to Amazon’s teams. But apparently the same doesn’t apply to themselves.

[00:02:33] Chris: Yeah, I think account health management does care about these complaints because people have been tweeting about it. The number of tweets.

[00:02:40] Leah: Oh, I think account health management care. But I mean, ultimately they’re working in this gigantic bureaucratic system where you caring may or may not result in any sort of improvement. And they are in a bad position where they’re the point of contact, but they have pretty much no power. So they can’t actually do a whole lot to assist the sellers other than just tell them what they think they should do. So I understand the frustration.

[00:03:11] Chris: And we’re not talking about seller support. I think everyone in all facets of the ecosystem, including Amazonians, understands that seller support quality jumped the shark a long, long time ago, and that’s not going to change. But with account health, they have pointed to that team, whether it’s at the Accelerate conference or publicly in blogs or elsewhere as, you asked us for more phone support, more trained employees who could look into your problem and give you some fruitful advice that would help guide you. They’re not doing enough quality assurance on not just the quality of the info and the advice that sellers are getting, but what’s with the attitude?

[00:03:54] Leah: Yeah.

[00:03:55] Chris: I mean, throwing it back at you, calling you out for, why didn’t you read the message? The account health reps know that the messages are completely murky, and opaque, and generic, and have mostly useless content. Anyone with a brain knows that. So that means account health reps know that. So for them to cop an attitude when you can read a message just like they can.

[00:04:18] Leah: Well, right. I guess that’s my main thing is if they’re going to be like that, what is the point of their teams?

You know, I had another account health rep who was like, “I’m taking over this case. I’m going to see it all the way through.” And then a week later, they’re like, “yeah, no, sorry.” The end. Talk to support.

[00:04:37] Chris: By the way, we will come up with some pointers and ideas on how to try to navigate this we’re not just going to rant. But I did have somebody last week who called. It was in response to an escalation that was emailed in from the primary. And the person called and said, look, I’m not your primary point of contact. I’m acknowledging that management, account health management and others have received this escalation. Somebody else is going to call you. I can’t tell you exactly who. Somebody else is going to call you, go through everything. All the appeals you’ve sent, what’s been rejected, why it’s been rejected. These were false promises. The call that ended up happening was a call that I was added to. What happened? The same generic garbled nonsense and gibberish, right?

So false promises is one problem. I mean if you’re going to promise something, don’t over promise and under deliver. I mean Amazon should understand that better than anyone, because if your seller account or ASIN appeal over promises and under delivers, they deny it routinely right? So why should they be able to do that?

But secondly, keep track of the names, the dates, the times, maybe even the duration of the call. We’ve said that before. We’re still, almost on a daily basis talking to sellers who are making these calls. Maybe talking about very specific denial reasons or very specific facets to their appeal, and somehow forgetting to capture the name of the person they’re talking to. Never do that because you might have to cite that conversation. What better way than to cite it by name. Even if the person is using a made up name, somewhere inside Amazon they should know who’s using the name Jennifer, or Frank, or Hank, or whatever it is. That should be recorded somewhere, because they have to at least have some way of backtracking who was on the call with you at that date, and time, if not by name.

[00:06:28] Leah: Well, and I think a lot of sellers are still afraid to push back as well. So even if they know what there being told is wrong, they’re worried that if they push too hard that’ll count against them. And I mean, obviously don’t be rude, don’t be inappropriate, but certainly push back. Especially if you know that what they’re saying is wrong, because the last thing you want is what we were just talking about, being sent down the completely wrong direction. And also it shows them that you’re not going to put up with their crap, for lack of a better word.

If they’re giving you nonsensical answers and you push back and question it, it’s showing them that they can’t just give you some gibberish and then get you off the phone. You need to make it clear to them that you’re taking this seriously. They need to be taking it seriously. And you understand what you’re talking about, and they can’t just give you something they just made up on the spot.

[00:07:20] Chris: You need to be an active participant in that call, not passive, not sitting back and relaxing and just letting their words come at you. You have to be fact checking it. Do some investigating yourself. I mean, think of yourself as an investigative reporter. Remember those old movies with the guy with the hat and it says press on it? And he’s got a photographer in tow. It’s like that. You have to double check what they’re saying. Verify that what they’re saying is accurate and squares with the details. The fact that they leave you on hold forever and then say they’ve dug through everything, doesn’t mean they’ve actually done it.

Quiz them on that.

[00:07:57] Leah: No, they haven’t. And I do consistently see escalations get a phone call from somebody who was either not given the information about the case, or who didn’t bother to look it up before calling you. Similarly to when you’re in hospital, you do need to advocate for yourself because often they get it wrong, or they don’t read the chart correctly, or they don’t read the chart at all. And you need to make sure that they have the right information, you’re getting the right information and you’re not just letting them check your call off the list of the things that they have to do that day.

[00:08:27] Chris: Yeah, when you’re a patient in the hospital, you need to be involved in your care. You can’t just sit back and relax and coast. If you are having somebody call Account Health, make sure it’s not the most passive person in your organization.

[00:08:42] Leah: If you have somebody from Boston on your team, I would recommend using them.

[00:08:45] Chris: Make sure it’s a listener, and a talker. Especially if the account health rep is taking you completely down the wrong road, or not substantiating anything they’re saying, stop them in their tracks. If it’s complete, unfounded, unsubstantiated commentary, it’s okay to stop them there, even though that seems rude, and say, “look we can’t do another 10, 20, 30 minute call with account health reps who are just marking time, and are just checking a box saying they did something without actually doing something.”

It has to be a working call, a productive call. If you’re not getting anywhere with this person, if they’re pushing you back. Like don’t interrupt me. What I say is gospel. I know more than you do. You can leave that call and try again with somebody else. I have a theory about your client this week, who got the outbound call from Amazon to them. They didn’t call in. If you want to call that a call back for an escalation, you can. I have a theory that there’s maybe 5 to 10 people in account health that are like the heavies.

[00:09:50] Leah: No, it is. It’s the leadership team that it gets sent to.

[00:09:53] Chris: Right. But are those the people like, this seller is becoming a nuisance. They’re asking too many questions, they’re calling us out on our BS, they’re fact checking things, and we don’t like people that ask us these questions.

[00:10:03] Leah: No, because we actually hadn’t done anything with account health.

 

[00:10:06] Chris: I just mean generally speaking, do they have like a heavy. Like, oh we have to go get Carl and send him in on this so he can rough them up a little bit over the phone.

[00:10:16] Leah: I think you’re giving them too much credit. I don’t think they’re that organized.

[00:10:19] Chris: You know what I’m driving at.

[00:10:21] Leah: Yes, but I don’t think they’re that organized.

[00:10:23] Chris: It goes without saying that none of it’s organized. You know, it’s like this seller is asking us too many questions. They’re too independent thought oriented. So we need to send somebody their way who’s going to put them in their place. Right? Partner support. Yeah and it results in rudeness. I’ve experienced listening in account health reps who are interrupting sellers frequently on the call. And then if the seller interrupts them once, they call them out for being rude.

[00:10:54] Leah: Yeah. I’ve certainly had that as well. Where they then threatened to hang up if you speak again over them.

[00:11:02] Chris: Yeah. And then they threatened to disconnect the call because they know you know 10 times more about the topic than they do. They’ve been poorly trained. They’re feeling, skittish and unsure of themselves and insecure about even having the conversation. And honestly, there doesn’t seem to be any auditing, or quality control, or quality assurance of how these calls are going. I mean, in the beginning, I was able to confirm with somebody at Amazon that they were listening in, but that was in the early training stages.

Are they doing that anymore?

[00:11:31] Leah: I haven’t seen anything that would suggest that.

[00:11:34] Chris: Are the QA people, or the listeners just kind of checking their own box? Like, yeah I listened to a few calls, yeah everything sounded okay. Have a nice day. I’m going to lunch. I’m leaving work early today.

[00:11:43] Leah: I mean, all this being said, I have definitely had calls with veteran account health people who genuinely are trying to help you, but they’re so exasperated by the processes on their side that, you can hear audible sighs when they start looking into things. And I honestly find them to be the most helpful, because they haven’t drunk the Kool Aid that Amazon can do no wrong and they actually are willing to go in and check and see where things went awry.

[00:12:07] Chris: Those people usually acknowledge that they can’t see. They don’t have access to and they can’t see the type of info that would make the call useful, or that would put them in a position to give you any meaningful guidance. So unfortunately, as potentially trained and with it as those people are, they can’t help you that much either. I mean, we went through this all through 2023. We’re a month into 2024. It’s time for management to kind of look in the mirror and see how well these teams are performing. Or are you kind of just telling yourself that they’re doing a great job without any evidence to support that?

[00:12:44] Leah: I mean, I’m pretty sure they’re just looking at speed metrics and I’m sure they’re doing great on those.

[00:12:50] Chris: Same thing I’m saying said differently. Yes.

So certainly don’t put up with any rude behavior, number one. I think you understand that pretty well. We all do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If somebody sounds like they’re barking at you or putting you in your place, don’t accept that. Make sure you get their name. You can stay on the call, but just say, look this conversation doesn’t seem to be going well. Maybe I can talk to a senior member of your team? Likely they’ll just hand you off to somebody else, but then get that person’s name and figure out what their title and responsibility is. And especially if you’re just getting this repeatedly multiple times during the course of a week without getting any useful info back. I mean, it’d be one thing if they bark at you, but actually give you a kernel of information that you can use with an appeal. What I’m hearing from people and a couple of the calls that we’ve been on, they’re not giving anything useful and they’re being rude. Which means that they’re kind of steadily working to defeat the purpose of the existence of that team to begin with.

So, situations like that, if you want to put it in front of us and let us know or get some advice from us, feel free. Otherwise, even if you never talk to us about it, take control of that call. Make sure you’re active, make sure you’re not passive, and make sure you’re asking questions and fact checking what they’re saying. Because, just because it’s coming out of their mouth, and they say they see it on your account does not mean It’s 100 percent accurate.

[00:14:11] Leah: No, you gotta do what I do. You put your inner Australian to one side, and you let your inner Bostonian come out when you’re on those calls. Because it’s not rude, it’s just assertive. You’re being assertive. If somebody’s giving you incorrect information, you need to be assertive. That is not the time to lay back and be like, okay, thanks for your help, I know you’re trying.

No. That is the time to be assertive and channel your inner Bostonian.

[00:14:33] Chris: Right. And we’re not telling you to lose your cool.

[00:14:37] Leah: No, not at all.

[00:14:38] Chris: I’m never going to say it’s going to be helpful to scream back at these people. The same as screaming at anyone, anywhere in life, that’ll make you feel good for 35 seconds and then you won’t come away with any kind of good feeling after that. So, you have to maintain your composure. And I know it’s frustrating if you have to roll out the yoga mat before you call account health and maybe while you’re calling them. Do that, have a meditative moment before you do it. That’s fine. We’re not telling you to spout off.

[00:15:08] Leah: I think that might have to be an episode of five minutes before you call account health meditation.

[00:15:12] Chris: Five minutes, yeah, at least. Thanks for listening, everybody. We know it’s kind of tough to hear some of this stuff. We know it’s frustrating. Maintain your composure, think strategically, and let us know if you have any questions. Bye.

Hosts & Guests

Leah McHugh

Chris McCabe

 

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