How do you talk to Amazon so they will listen? I answered this question with my fellow Amazon alumnus, Jochen Schall, for Sellerlabs last week. Did you miss the webinar? Watch the replay or download the slides.
We received some great questions that we didn’t have time to answer and as these covered many issues sellers see more and more, I wanted to take a moment to address them.
Q: Do you have a good example “Response Template” that has been successful in the past with Amazon?
A: We are developing templates that sellers will soon be able to use or adapt for their particular situations. Right now we’re mostly creating custom responses tailored to client account needs. Case by case assessment and reply creates patterns of responses by both sides that we analyze to understand how to best interact with Amazon on each issue.
Q: How do I reach Jeff? How do you contact Exec Seller Relations? Is this Jeff answering this?
A: Jeff is not answering these himself, although he used to look over some of them and if he wondered what had happened during that seller account investigation, he’d add the “?” and his team would initiate a new review of the case. Executive Seller Relations is reached by emailing Jeff and for some by calling the main switchboard number and asking to speak to that team. The voicemail box associated with the team has now been discontinued due to the sheer number of calls, but you may be referred to an actual team member.
Or they may pass you on to a Seller Support type rep. If that happens, hang up and give it another try later. If you’re following up on a never-answered appeal or you’re receiving the same “stall tactic” emails over and over from policy teams asking for the same information, then you need to speak with either Exec Seller Relations or the performance or policy team that suspended your account. No other team will work.
Q: How do I reach account managers or category managers? What is a category manager? What do you think is the criteria to be considered for getting an account manager?
A: As I mentioned during the webinar, to be considered for account manager programs, keep your performance metrics on target and if you do receive a policy warning or item quality alert, review the potential causes internally and follow up by writing in to Amazon. Take action by removing problem inventory if you see too many returns or order defects piling up around certain ASINs and investigate your supplier relationship if you’re getting chronic item quality warnings based on buyer complaints against their products.
Category managers can be tough to reach but a good strategy for sellers is to establish a relationship with them on the early side of getting into a category. If you’re encouraged to list certain items or enter a new category, have some questions ready and ask to be in touch with the category manager responsible for growing it. There’s also LinkedIn, I have reached out to and maintained contacts with several of them that came onboard after I left Amazon. Some respond to questions or queries, and some do not, it will all depend on your phrasing of the question and how you approach the matter. Once the thread begins, you can grow that relationship from there.
Q: If you are in an email Loop (as discussed in the early slides), how do you get out of that situation? So when a request for repeated information comes through, has a human read the reply? Or is it a machine?
A: Unfortunately, it’s a human being acting like a machine. Investigators are often rushing this work or not even reading prior annotations, but simply sending a generic answer asking for more info because it’s safer, it’s easier, and they can move on to the next account to meet their quota. This is why you see the same thing over and over, no matter what you send in, or get requests for information that never came up previously.
You’ll need to escalate beyond the team that has you stuck in a loop. You also need to make sure your plan is solid and sound and has not missed any major points, or failed to present the necessary facts and is in a format that is readable and understandable.
A good Plan Of Action is the first and most important step. Did you provide root causes that make sense to the situation that got you suspended? Are you missing any major steps that would prevent the future recurrence of the same problems? Only escalate when you’ve nailed down all possible areas of your plan.
Q: Does the volume we do with Amazon have any weight on their decision? Especially if we email Jeff?
A: There are differing views on this, some say that sellers large and small can face the wrath of these policy teams, since they are the ones doing most of the manual suspensions. I’ve seen large sellers who have better internal contacts at the company fare better, but they may have leveraged those contacts to generate internal escalations and additional eyes on their situation. Some say having a $200k loan with Amazon Lending makes a difference because you’ve expanded your relationship with the company, but those teams can’t stop a suspension from happening. It’s more case by case in terms of who can leverage their revenue size in order to get reviewed and reinstated faster. Some sellers are good at this, and others are not.