Season 1, Episode 143

Optimizing Amazon Communication for Prime Day

Prime Day is a high-stakes event for Amazon sellers, requiring meticulous preparation and effective communication strategies to ensure smooth operations. Proper communication can be the difference between a smooth, successful Prime Day and a disastrous one. In this episode, Chris and Leah explore how to develop proactive communication strategies, address compliance issues in advance, and stay prepared for any potential challenges.

Show Notes


[00:00:00 ] Chris:Hey everybody. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions I’m your very thrilled to be here host, Chris McCabe. I’m here with Leah McHugh. And we are talking about prime day prep, but from the angle of proper communication with Amazon teams, because as you know, during hectic, busy periods, Amazon communicates in little bits and pieces and fits and starts that are not always useful. And when there’s more contacts coming in, more people to get back to that gets even more fragmented and more difficult to follow.

[00:00:35] Chris: So that just means your communication game has to kick it up a notch, especially if things go wrong in real time, where thousands of dollars are running out the door more so than usual, and you’re waiting for them to get back to you with a response that might be kind of lower quality. So what we’re talking about today is crafting a proper communication strategy so that before anything even possibly goes wrong, you know that you’re not going to be opening seller support cases, sitting and waiting.

[00:01:08] Chris: You’ll have emails ready to go pre written if possible. If you’re not sure what is most likely to go wrong during prime day, you’ve at least got a plan for what might go wrong. You’re working on kind of the more nuanced compliance cases. So the first question I had for you, Is what are the main areas where you think people might get randomly last minute flagged for something, whether it’s legitimate or not, where they would have to have communication written and prepared in advance.

[00:01:38] Chris: Is there any tips or tricks you can give people in terms of not opening up a seller support case and waiting, for a miracle, but actually having kind of a one first step, third step, game plan in place before they get started.

[00:01:51] Leah: Well, usually if we’re seeing compliance takedowns during a busy period, if they’re incorrect, it’s usually because of keyword abuse.

[00:01:58] Leah: So the first step is checking your listing for any information that shouldn’t be there and removing it, of course. And then, unfortunately, the first step is, it’s not technically a support case, it’s appealing it through the account health dashboard, but that does get routed to support for compliance cases for some reason.

[00:02:15] Leah: My weird tip, but for some reason is required, because these cases get routed through support, even though you’re appealing on the account health dashboard. Sometimes they don’t get routed to the right team. So you’ll just get like a response back from general support saying like, we understand you’re having problems with blah, blah, blah.

[00:02:33] Leah: And it’s like, yeah, that’s what we already told you. So I actually recommend starting all of the appeals that are going to the compliance team with the line, please transfer this case to compliance. It’s not foolproof, but it does actually work a lot of the time. Sort of weird when you’re going through the appeal form that you have to tell them where to route it, but it is something that I have been seeing for years and still see, especially during busy periods where support or just trying to answer cases as quickly as possible to maintain their metrics.

[00:03:00] Chris: Yeah, and I haven’t been working on the compliance stuff that you do, but for the other things that I’ve been troubleshooting for people I’ve Suggested having something pre written and ready that says this went to the wrong place already Maybe multiple times if so chart those out and say how many times and on what dates it’s gone to the wrong team But you know this belongs with the blank team Send it there or start naming, like which team sent it to the wrong place to make sure that it doesn’t go back to that team.

[00:03:35] Chris: So the person reading it knows before they even say, Hey, I know where this should go. They already know that you’ve been there and they already know it came to them because that team didn’t want it, didn’t take it, didn’t look at it. So having that kind of ready to go, ready to launch, whether or not you need it during prime day, I think is a good idea, but whether it’s a technical issue or some sort of false flag on Amazon side, or if it’s a competitor attack or if it’s abuse, I also recommend, and I wanted to get your take on this, what you think of having people write something that doesn’t necessarily decide in advance or land on one diagnosis, but like something went wrong. It could be a tool misfire.

[00:04:23] Chris: It could be an attack. We’re not sure. Our listing is down. I mean, we don’t always advise people to say, we can’t tell what’s going on, you look into it, you figure it out and you get back to us. Usually Amazon wants you to tell them what’s going wrong, but in some cases you can write something up for It could be technical, it could be a glitch, it could be an attack.

[00:04:45] Chris: We don’t have time to go back and forth with seller support on this. We need a higher level team to hop in, review it and get our listing back up. Because of course, Prime Day is only a couple of days. If it takes them a couple of days to even decide what it is, then you’ve already lost that opportunity.

[00:05:03] Leah: Right. My concern with recommending that approach to people is that people will start using it for absolutely everything. And a lot of times. The fault, the problem. So now we’re just, we’re now, we’re just adding more traffic to already busy escalation paths that are kind of like useless traffic because like, they’re the ones at fault.

[00:05:23] Chris: No I’m saying these are cases where you’ve already done your due diligence. You’ve already looked at your own listings, your own side of it, and you’ve determined that that’s not where the flaw is, so you’re not sure if it’s an attack, you’re not sure if it’s technical in nature.

[00:05:38] Chris: But the only way to get it solved quickly is to press them to take a look at it and determine what the cause is.

[00:05:45] Leah: Yeah, I mean, those are escalations that we send. I mean, you can’t always tell, particularly on the things that I work on. You can’t always tell if it’s an attack or something else. It, it does certainly slow things down a little bit when Amazon is the one having to do the troubleshooting.

[00:05:59] Leah: But I mean, of course, yeah, there are times where you don’t know what the problem is. You just know that you are not the problem. There is something going on on their side. But yeah, certainly, I mean, technical issues tend to take longer to resolve, too, because usually they require multiple teams, but I try to get as much information as I can, because if it’s up to Amazon to find that information, they slow.

[00:06:19] Chris: Yeah. Well, I think what’s interesting is that on the one hand, There are some sellers who are like, if it’s not fixed within two hours, they come back and say, why isn’t it been fixed? What’s going on. And they’re all too willing. They’re all too willing to reply or re I’m sorry, within two hours. Well, you can’t wait two days during prime day.

[00:06:42] Chris: That’s the problem. So on the one hand, you need to give Amazon time to look at something and get back to you in a realistic amount of time. But on the other hand, there are lots of sellers who, when they’re told to wait, they will wait. And they might not be waiting for anything. They might be told to wait for no reason whatsoever.

[00:06:58] Chris: So how do you reconcile that? How do you know when it’s right?

[00:07:02] Leah: Don’t wait forever. But I mean, It depends on who you’re dealing with, too. I mean, two hours or you’re just going to have it routed to a different person when you send that two hour update. So, I mean, it depends on what teams you’re talking about and what the situation is.

[00:07:19] Chris: It also depends on if you have an account manager. So I wanted to talk about that for a minute.

[00:07:23] Leah: It also depends on if Amazon decides to flag you for abusive communication because you’re overusing their messaging tools.

[00:07:29] Chris: That’s very infrequent. We can do a different episode on that.

[00:07:32] Leah: I’ve been seeing a lot more warnings about that lately, actually.

[00:07:36] Leah: A lot of people have been being warned for it, but not actually taken down. Like, just a reminder, it is a violation of our policies.

[00:07:43] Chris: Okay, so you’re seeing that more than I am. That’s useful information. I’ll keep an eye out for that. I haven’t seen more than a couple of those lately.

[00:07:52] Chris: Usually, I mean, for a quick sidebar on Contacting Amazon too much or being abusive. What I see is usually like, you’ve been unprofessional in your communication with us. Not that you’ve been spamming us, but that you’ve been going crazy in your communications with us. And you’ve been not driving us crazy because of frequency, but driving us crazy because of the manner in which you communicate.

[00:08:14] Leah: No, I’ve seen more recently about around frequency or about reopening cases or starting a new case because you just didn’t like their response.

[00:08:22] Chris: Okay. That’s fair. Yeah. When I brought up SAS core and account management, those are the paid account management programs that a lot of our clients use, and I’m sure a lot of listeners have as well.

[00:08:34] Chris: They might not get back to you within 24, 48 hours for something on Prime Day either. So it’s probably number one, good idea to talk to them about, hey, if crazy crap goes down right before Prime Day or during it, can I get on the hotline to you? Can you do something quickly? That’s a good conversation to have in your monthly call or long before the actual mid July dates kick in.

[00:08:56] Chris: But let’s just say you’ve already had that conversation. They’ve said, yep, we’re going to be there for you. We’re not going to let you down. Something goes crazy. And then something does go wrong. Just make sure when you are emailing with them or talking to them, that you get a definitive one, two, three, four steps that they’re going to do so that you’re not just going to have them do one thing and come back with a shrug and oops, I’ll try something else.

[00:09:19] Chris: Make sure you’ve got a clear idea of what they’re doing internally, what their expectations are, and how quickly they’re going to hear back. They might say, Hey, it’s prime day. Things are crazy. We’re not going to hear back right away. Best thing I would advise when you’re having that conversation, or you’re on that email thread with the account manager is to say, okay, well, then I want to plan for that too.

[00:09:39] Chris: Not just a plan for something that goes wrong. And then we figure out the rest later after you’ve opened up a case. Let’s just say your case languishes. Let’s say your case gets a generic. Internal response. Hey, we’ll check into this and get back to you. What do you expect to be able to do further at that moment in time?

[00:09:55] Chris: Or are you just going to level with us and tell us that you can’t do much more than wait? And at that point, it’s the burdens on us to do all the escalations from there. Get that expectation clear and have that discussion well in advance. I mean, some of our clients are probably talking to their SAS core reps.

[00:10:14] Chris: What once, once a month, really just 12 times a year. Unless something else goes wrong, but in the absence of things going wrong, they have that conversation once a month. So prime day is a month away. I mean, have those conversations now so that you’re not scrambling, right?

[00:10:31] Leah: Yeah, absolutely. Especially because your account manager likely has multiple accounts that they’re managing and they’re all probably wanting immediate responses during that time of year.

[00:10:41] Leah: It’s certainly better to have a stronger relationship with your rep before it’s an emergency.

[00:10:46] Chris: And account managers get just as frustrated as the sellers they work with in terms of the answers they get back. You can read between the lines, sometimes it’s not so hidden in terms of their frustrations when they get a completely worthless answer from an internal team.

[00:11:02] Leah: Those are actually my favorites. Not specifically SAS reps, but sometimes when I speak with catalog or account health, I like when I get the jaded employee that’s been there for a long time, cause you just hear like an audible sigh when they look at the case notes. Those are my favorite people to speak to actually.

[00:11:17] Chris: Or the emails sometimes contain a non audible sigh. They’re writing in this interesting kind of indirect language style. It’s almost like a version of legalese without the legal part where they’re just talking around it. But you can tell that whether they say something like, we understand this answer isn’t what any of us hoped for, but we will check back and try to get you a better answer.

[00:11:44] Chris: Or I will. It’s just interesting how they’re Frustrations are almost on a par with what their sellers are experiencing.

[00:11:51] Leah: Not that I’m happy that they’re frustrated, but it just makes me feel better. That it’s, it’s not just external, it’s not just on our side.

[00:12:00] Chris: It’s not just on one side. No, that’s a great note to end this podcast episode on.

[00:12:06] Chris: Something I can address in a different episode, when I’m speaking with people in person, in Seattle. And one of my many trips, I mean, there are internal people that’ll say, I checked into this for you and I got a really lame answer back and I’m embarrassed or I’m frustrated, or I share your angst over this.

[00:12:25] Chris: And they do, you can tell when you’re talking to people in person, you don’t have to do side trips to Seattle like I do. You can go to Amazon, accelerate and be there in person and attend. Speak to some of these people directly who will try to do things for you and maybe talk to you on the phone or on a chime call later, and they will sometimes be more upset than you are because you’re numb to it.

[00:12:47] Chris: And they might not be, they might’ve actually expected a better answer from a fellow Amazonian and they didn’t get one.

[00:12:53] Leah: Yeah. That’s also kind of nice for me when that happens, like I’m not happy that it’s not working and I’m not happy that they’re frustrated, but it’s nice to know that it happens internally as well.

[00:13:04] Chris: It’s not even, it’s not even that we’re joyful over it.

[00:13:10] Leah: No, I mean, of course I’d be happier if it worked.

[00:13:13] Chris: Well, it’s like comradeship, it’s like some camaraderie that you get out of hearing it because you get to say to yourself, great. So further evidence that I’m not completely crazy.

[00:13:25] Leah: Right. Exactly. I’m like, Oh good. I’m not losing my mind.

[00:13:28] Chris: It’s not me. It’s you. It’s not me. Not the person you’re talking to, but the overall entity, that is Amazon. So bottom line, Prime Day, it’s an exciting time. It’s a complex time. There’s nuance to some of these troubleshooting, urgent care type resolutions.

[00:13:47] Chris: So if you have problems with this, questions about it beforehand, no better time than the present, the month of June to have these conversations or to contact us and go over some of these things, because come July, things do get wild. Pretty, pretty quickly. So thanks again for listening. Thanks again, Leah, for joining from so far away and we will talk again soon.

Hosts & Guests

Leah McHugh

Chris McCabe




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