March 9, 2020

Does Amazon Seller Support continually frustrate you or your staff? If you’re a third-party seller on Amazon, the answer to this question is likely a resounding “yes!”

The Riverbend Team includes many former Amazon employees from a wide range of departments, such as Seller Performance, Seller Support, Seller Account Health and Strategic Account Management. These quality professionals have some excellent suggestions for how to get the most out of your relationship with Seller Support.

A spoonful of sugar

The first piece of advice is the simplest – and most powerful. Being friendly and positive can go a long way with Amazon Seller Support reps.

“I worked in customer service/business support/seller support for over 15 years, and I am still surprised at how agents are treated,” one of our team members says. “I can’t tell you how many times I have been told to stick my computer in any number of uncomfortable places and then asked to do something extra for that same person.

“Excuse me, you just insulted me, my family, my dog, then shared your thoughts on my intelligence (or lack thereof) and now you want me to help you? Ummmm, not likely. Why would anyone want to do more than the bare minimum for someone who just got done insulting them and screaming at them through the telephone (or using all caps in an email)?”

Oftentimes, callers to Amazon Seller Support and Seller Account Health start things out all wrong – screaming about an issue before the rep even knows what’s going on.

“You said ‘Hello,’ and the next thing you heard was someone yelling profanities in your ear and insulting you,” our intrepid former SeSu rep said. Telling you how stupid your question is or asking how someone with so little intelligence makes it through the day on their own. After the initial shock, you would be angry about how you were treated, yet many people still feel there is nothing wrong with abusing the agents. This is a two-way street, treat people as you would want them to treat you, with professionalism and courtesy.”

“But, it’s their job!”

An agent’s job is to assist you, but it is not their job to be the target of your anger and frustration with the company they represent. A front-line agent has no power to change the policies within the company. As tempting or appropriate as it may seem to vent your thoughts and feelings about the company or the events which took place, it is never a good idea at this level.

As good as it may make you feel, these rants will usually work against you. The fact is, that agent may agree that the policy is unfair and that you have been put in a bad situation, but they are not the one who makes the policies.

If you have an issue with an Amazon Policy there are channels to voice your opinion, but front-line agents are not the way.

“Give me your supervisor right now … ”

A SeSu or Seller Account Health agent would like nothing more than to be able to pass an upset seller off to their supervisor and let them take the abuse; however, that is not how it works.

Agents are required to attempt to de-escalate the contact. If they are unable to do so, they may take your information for a supervisor callback. You may want to talk to that supervisor right now, but there may not be one available or may not even be one on the floor. Agents are hired for their ability to work without constant and direct supervision, so if you are told there is not a supervisor available, it is probably true.

Now that we have gone over a few of the “dont’s,” let’s look at ways to maximize each contact and have a better chance of achieving your objective.

A view from Seller Support
Take a deep breath
If you are getting ready to contact Amazon, take your own temperature first. If you can feel the heat coming off your face, your fists are clenched, and your heart is pounding so hard that other people are slowly backing away from you … this may not be the time to call.

Take a breather, walk around a bit, or do something else until you are calmer. Coming in hot will not be good for anyone, and if you do it often enough will get you Final Worded. Also, NEVER make a threat to an Amazon agent, not even as a joke! Amazon has closed accounts for this, and there is no appeal process for that type of closure.

The clock is ticking
Unfortunately, Amazon’s front-line agents have metrics they must meet to keep their jobs. I say “unfortunately” because often this leads to a less-than- ideal seller experience when they are trying to help you. One of these metrics is Handle Time, the amount of time spent on each call or case while
working on it. While this may not matter to you, I assure you that it is in the back of the agent’s mind while they are helping you.
Having your thoughts and information organized and ready to go when you contact Amazon will work to everyone’s benefit:
  • Know what you want to ask and maybe even write down the questions you want to ask, so you do not forget.
  • Be logged into your Seller Central account before you call, so you can follow along with the agent.
  • If you have specific ASINs, shipments or orders you want to talk about, write the numbers down so you do not have to take time searching for them.
Pro Tip:

If you have multiple ASINs, orders, or shipments that you need to be addressed, say for “no listing” errors, limit them to 5-10 per case. Do not send a case with 100 ASINs. This will drag out the amount of time it takes to get your problem solved. By breaking it up into smaller groups, the workload will be spread to multiple agents rather than one agent having to do all of them. This means it gets done faster!

You catch more flies with honey
Be polite and professional on the phone or in your emails. Common courtesy goes a long way and will often get you that extra effort from the agent. Setting a positive tone for the contact will work to your benefit. When I am talking to a customer service agent, I always ask the agent how their day is going. After the initial surprise of someone asking that, they are happy to help me and will often do a little more.

There is no reason to insult an agent or demean them. You are a professional, so be sure to act like one. Amazon has a large overseas presence for their front-line agents. Realize that the person you speak with may have a heavy accent and work with that. If you are having trouble understanding them, ask them to speak more slowly but do not insult them. Prejudice is ugly in any form, and these are people that are working hard to do what they can.

It never hurts to ask, but you can’t always get what you want
If you are unsure whether something can be done, ask. If it can be done, the agent will try. If it can’t be done, then you may have to accept that. If you are asking for help on how to do something, listen to what the agent is telling you.
“It never ceased to amaze me how many people would call in asking how something should be done,” says one of our team members. “Then after telling them the right way (based on doing that job for years), they would tell me I was wrong. If you knew how to do it, then why did you call? My guess is that your way did not work.”

If the method that the agent tells you does not work, explain why so they can problem solve with you.

Statement + specifics = understanding
  • Make a statement about something you are experiencing or a problem you are having. Explain not only the main problem, but also the steps you have already taken or any error messages you are getting. “It’s not working” does not give any information. “When I try to create an inbound shipment, I receive this error message (and state the error message)” is something that an agent can work with.
  • Be clear and concise with the information you are presenting.
  • Answer the agent’s questions with answers, not sarcasm. If you feel the anger creeping back in, take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
  • We all know Amazon can be very frustrating, but calm is more effective than anger.
  • If you are looking at a specific screen or area of your Seller Central account, tell the agent what you are looking at so they can see what you see.
  • Stating the steps you have already taken will save both of you time by not repeating actions that have already failed. The agent may still try them again. If this happens, do not get insulted as if they do not believe you. It may be that they are required by the system to go through certain troubleshooting steps as part of the process within
Amazon workflows
We hope this view from “the other side” is helpful. Often, we are so caught up in our own situation that we lose touch with the person we really are, and our frustration gets the best of us. We are all professionals that are working within the policies set by Amazon – even the agents who work for Amazon.
If we recognize that we are not each other’s enemy and treat each other with respect, it will benefit everyone in the long run.

If there are other ways, Riverbend Consulting can use our experience to help you. Please contact us here.

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