If you’ve been selling on Amazon for any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve run into an urgent or business-critical issue that required the support of Seller Central to resolve. Maybe your account was suspended — rightfully or incorrectly — and you have been working through a Plan of Action (POA) to get back up and running. It is not uncommon to get responses from investigators at Amazon that seem as if the person reviewing your POA simply didn’t read it. And due to the sheer volume of issues these teams are responsible for processing, along with internal metrics that can encourage speed over quality, it is possible that your POA is not being thoroughly reviewed. It can be incredibly frustrating to spend time and energy to resolve an issue only to receive a response that clearly indicates the Amazon investigator is not particularly invested in helping you. So, what is a seller to do when they’ve exhausted all options via Seller Central and they still are unable to get a business-critical issue resolved? Well, Jeff Bezos says he wants you to email him.
That’s right — Jeff Bezos wants to hear from you. With the rapid growth of the third party marketplace, there have been more than a few growing pains when it comes to seller support. Amazon is constantly working to provide better, scalable support for the hundreds of thousands of sellers working with Amazon, and while there has been improvement, there are still instances where support is less than stellar. In an effort to maintain a positive reputation while the kinks get worked out, Jeff has pulled out all the stops and offered up his very own contact information (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that desperate sellers have a last resort means of resolving their issues.
And that is exactly what this should be — a last resort.
Seller Support — Fantasy vs. Reality
As much as you may wish you had a direct contact person within the walls of Amazon to help you with any issues related to running your business, that option just isn’t scalable for Amazon’s vast and ever-growing third party marketplace. In an effort to provide consistent and scalable service to an ever-growing number of third party sellers, Amazon uses the Seller Central system to funnel cases through large teams of employees who assist third party sellers. The system keeps documentation of every interaction so that everything is trackable, and cases can easily be passed to the appropriate team for investigation and resolution. This system also allows Amazon to keep tabs on response times to better ensure issues don’t lag. But as with any quickly growing, large division of a company, employees are often overworked and undertrained. Add to that the fact that many of the people assisting with these issues are located overseas and are not native English-speakers, and it isn’t surprising that a certain amount of confusion is injected into some Seller Central interactions.
Best Practices for Successful Seller Central Interactions
While it is great to have Jeff’s email as a last resort, you should always do everything you can to work within the existing support system available to you before you consider dropping him an email. These best practices for submitting, managing, and successfully resolving cases in Seller Central might just save you from running into issues in the first place, and will certainly help you when the going gets tough and you are not getting the level of support you need.
Be the Expert
The reality is that any issue you are experiencing is more important to you than it is to the Amazon agent, and you know your business way better than they do. You need to be the one to go the extra mile and do the extra work. Don’t expect the agent to research anything that you can provide for them. You are way more likely to get a quick and accurate response if you provide thorough and helpful information. So whenever you submit a case, be sure to include accurate and complete information. Include ASINs, reference numbers, and any other pertinent details. Try to anticipate questions and provide answers before anyone has to ask.
Be Polite — And Always Think of Your Brand
When there is a major issue impacting your business, it is easy to get upset and a little panicked. But rattling off an angry email to Seller Central is not going to get your issue resolved more quickly — in fact, in some cases it may cause an agent to avoid dealing with your issue or spending a minute more than they “have to” on your issue because you appear to be difficult to work with. Remember, with every email you send and every word you write, you are representing your brand. Be kind — but firm — and as helpful as you can possibly be. The easier and more pleasant you are to work with, the more likely someone will be willing to go the extra mile on your behalf. Anytime you get helpful service of ANY kind through Seller Central, be sure to say thank you and let the agent know how much you appreciate their help. Never underestimate the power of a little bit of kindness.
Always Respond Immediately
Don’t be the bottleneck. Anytime you receive a response from Seller Central, respond right away. If you wait too long you are sending the message that in your eyes, this is not a truly urgent issue.
Do not let days pass without receiving a response. If you don’t hear back about an issue, respond to the case again on a very regular basis, and ask what you can do to expedite resolution. There may be a simple piece of information that you can provide the agent that will speed up the resolution process — do your best to anticipate needs, but when in doubt, just ask.
Keep Everything in Writing
You might be tempted to just pick up the phone and call Seller Support in an effort to get your issue more quickly resolved. It can feel more productive to speak with a person rather than emailing back and forth. But just because it feels more productive doesn’t mean it actually is. Due to the huge volume of cases constantly in rotation, it is in your best interest to get everything in writing and be sure there is a paper trail so nothing falls through the cracks. If and when your issue gets passed around to various teams for resolution, they will have documentation of everything that has transpired.
One Case Per Issue, One Issue Per Case
When you open a case in Seller Central, only include one issue in your case. If you have multiple issues, open a separate case for each. Also, do not open up a new case for an issue if you have already initiated a case about that issue. Respond to the original case you opened, or reopen it if it was incorrectly resolved.
If Things Go Sideways: Tips For Dealing With Common Problems
Even when you’ve seemingly done everything right, there are times when a Seller Central case just goes off the tracks. Try to stay calm, and keep these helpful tips in mind.
Common Problem #1: You Get Radio Silence
Be persistent. Respond to the case daily, or multiple times a day. Be sure to explicitly tell them that this is an urgent issue for you, and if it doesn’t get addressed you will be forced to move up the chain. Always ask if there is any information that is needed or further action you can take to speed up the resolution process.
Common Problem #2: You Receive a Response that Doesn’t Make Sense
If you receive a response that doesn’t make sense, or where the agent clearly doesn’t know what they are doing, ask to be escalated to a supervisor or manager. It will only become increasingly frustrating to attempt to communicate with someone who clearly does not understand your issue.
Common Problem #3: Your Case is Resolved Prematurely
Reopen the case. Explain that the issue is not resolved, and reiterate the current status of things. If necessary, ask to be escalated to a manager.
If you have completely hit a stalemate in your efforts to resolve your issue through the normal channels, it may be time to email Jeff. But before you send that email, make sure it is truly an appropriate situation.
When to Email Jeff
- You have a business-critical issue (something preventing you from being able to sell your products, get paid, or comply with the law)
- You have followed the documented processes and procedures for resolving your issue, working directly with the Seller Central support team
- You have asked to be escalated to a manager and your issue is still not being resolved
- Amazon employees are clearly misinterpreting or misapplying a policy, or you have taken the necessary steps to resolve the issue but the Amazon agent will not acknowledge this. Something is clearly broken in the support process or policy interpretation.
When NOT to Email Jeff
- In attempt to skip the existing support process (ie. Seller Central) and expedite issue resolution
- In attempt to have the rules or policies changed (for example, you are clearly not in compliance with the existing policies and rules, but you want an exception made.)
- Your issue is not business-critical (don’t clutter his inbox with issues that are not truly make-or-break for your business)
Composing Your Email
This is not the time to quickly spout off an angry email. Take the time to clearly and concisely outline the issue, what you have done in attempt to resolve the issue through the normal support channels, where things went wrong, and what needs to be done to fix the problem. There is a team who manages Jeff’s email and forwards issues to the appropriate teams for investigation, resolution, and response, so do all that you can to make that process smooth. Provide case reference numbers, ASINs, and all other pertinent details so that anyone investigating the issue can quickly track what happened and identify where things went wrong. Also, take the time to ask if there is something you could have or should have done differently to secure issue resolution through the normal channels.
Don’t Forget About Customer Reviews
One of the best ways to grow your business on Amazon is by increasing the number of customer reviews for your products. With Salesbacker you can automatically send an email to every customer who purchases your products, and politely ask them to provide feedback in the form of a customer review. Sign up for your free 30-day trial of Salesbacker and start growing the number of customer reviews for your products today.