Season 1, Episode 45
There’s a Right Way to Escalate to Executive Seller Relations
[00:00:07] Chris: Hi everybody, welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. This is Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris. I’m a former Amazon and I’m here today with Leah McHugh. Also of ecommerceChris, brand consultant, listing expert, compliance expert extraordinaire. We’ve been talking the last few minutes before we hit record about executive seller relations and all the misconceptions out there about escalations in general but specifically today talking about just this team, who this team is, why they’re taking a long time to respond, why there’s sometimes responding, saying this is a final decision and we can’t help you.
[00:00:48] Leah: Amazon loves saying final. That’s like their favorite word.
[00:00:52] Chris: Maybe I’ll start with some quick history on the fact that when I used to work for Amazon, cases were delegated from executive seller relations to me, I was one of the people who worked on these so-called Bezos escalations.
[00:01:04] Leah: We don’t hold that against you.
[00:01:06] Chris: Bezos escalations came from Jeff. Let’s just clarify our terms. Executive seller relations handles all kinds of escalations, not the ones that are just coming from Jeff.
But the way I was introduced to this team many years ago at Amazon was Jeff would put the question mark, on the email we’ve seen books written about this. They would be delegated to somebody like my boss or my boss’s boss. And then I would start working on them from there once they were put into our queue.
So executive seller relations nowadays. You kind of get, not just one or two or three certified pre-approved investigators, like I was, to work on these. I don’t even know if they have a certification process now. It seems like they get farmed out to whoever’s available, who works in seller performance. It could be a senior investigator.
[00:01:48] Leah: I mean, I definitely see the same names over and over again. So I think it is still a relatively closed team. Because at one point I kind of knew their work schedules cause we were, we were sending to them so often. And we do see the same names over and over. So I think it still is a closed team.
We rarely get like a slew of new names, unless they’re all just using the same fake name.
[00:02:11] Chris: Well, I think it also depends on what avenue you use to contact them. So sometimes a lot of people still write to Jeff at Amazon, and they get an email back from partner support. I think at some point, Amazon understood that if you’re emailing Jeff at Amazon, There’s a flood of those going in and they needed to delegate those to a variety of people.
In the old days, again, not to say that once again, but in the old days, Jeff had a handful of assistance. There were handful of managers who would get those emails from Jeff’s people or from Jeff himself. The Jeff at Amazon email could go to a variety of people. With a variety of skill sets and experience levels at this point, just expect that. It’s also just kind of an old way of escalating things. Don’t assume that just because you write to Jeff at Amazon, it’ll be reviewed by somebody capable of reviewing complexity or somebody who’s going to take the time to go through your case history,
[00:03:08] Leah: Well, it’s also the most publicly known. So they would be getting emails, not just resellers. They would be getting emails from customers, from flex drivers, from affiliates, they would be getting emails from all over to the Jeff queues. Whereas the other places that we escalate to are not really as well known. And so for the most part, they would just be getting sellers specific escalations.
[00:03:29] Chris: But they’re getting better known. And I think sellers are getting better, marginally , not across the board, but they’re getting better at asking for executive seller relations. We see more emails that people send in. Maybe they don’t send it to the right place, but we see that sellers, before they come to us, send things in that ask for a review by executive seller relations.
So whether it’s us constantly talking about it or others in this space, sellers are more aware that that team exists.
[00:03:55] Leah: Yeah, I agree. And there’s a way to set expectations with people when you do escalate to Jeff or whoever, obviously they rarely reply back to you directly. For the most part, they just delegate it to executive seller relations and then executive seller relations takes over the case on their behalf.
But what we’re seeing more of lately is that there’s more pushback from that team. So first of all, like the reason you escalate is not just because you want your case to be looked at faster than everybody else in the queue when you’re escalating, you’re escalating because you’ve already tried the process that Amazon is laid out and it hasn’t worked. But what we’re seeing more of lately is that when you escalate, executive seller relations looks into it and then tries to send you back to the team that didn’t do their job in the first place rather than just resolving it. And I’m not sure if that’s because executive seller relations are overworked, which they always have been. So I don’t know why that would have suddenly become this or if some of their powers or abilities have been removed from the team. But my question would be if they have removed those powers from the team, then what exactly is the point of that team? If they’re just going to send you back to the teams that didn’t do their job properly in the first place, what’s the point of having executive seller relations? They’ve just turned into another account health at that point.
[00:05:15] Chris: Exactly. That’s the other alarming part is that they seem lately, to be saying more, this is a final decision, which they used to reserve that language for you’ve emailed us several times, the proper teams have reviewed this, we understand what you’re saying, our answer is no and that decision is final and there would have been a lot of back and forth before that happens. Now we’re seeing that all over the place in cases where it doesn’t apply at all.
[00:05:41] Leah: Well, and they’re also saying the team that failed to do their job, well, their decision was final and it’s like, what is the point of having an escalation process if there isn’t going to be any investigation into that?
[00:05:52] Chris: It’s a lot of things, but it’s a lack of an audit trail as well. And then, like I was saying earlier, I think things are mistransferred, sent to the wrong people, or sometimes delegated to somebody who might be capable but they’re either so backlogged that they can’t help or it’s missed and it’s just sort of left there to rot. So keep track of however you contact executive seller relations, or if you happen to see a message back from them that shows it was escalated from something else you did, keep track of those dates and times, and how much time has gone by and how long it took them to respond. Have they told you several times, we’re still reviewing this because if it’s been three weeks, they’re still reviewing it and you’ve lost a million dollars in sales from that product listing over three weeks, that’s worth mentioning in the next.
[00:06:36] Leah: And I think people are afraid to push when executive seller relations tell them we’re looking into it, without giving you any sort of timeline, I think a lot of people are afraid to push back on that. If you aren’t pushy then it’s very easy for you to get pushed to the back of the queue. And I’m not saying to spam them, please don’t spam them. But I’m saying if it’s been a week since they told you that they’re looking into it, like you don’t just sit around for a week or more waiting for them to hopefully respond to you.
They have KPIs as well, and you need to be asking for timelines.
[00:07:07] Chris: I don’t think it’s just for pushy people. Some people are waiting . They’re willing to do more to push it in front of somebody, but they’re there waiting because they think if they’re silent and willing to wait and be patient for at least a few days, the result will be positive.
The problem is they’re believing what they’re told that it is being reviewed, what if it’s not being reviewed at all? What if it won’t be reviewed for weeks?
[00:07:29] Leah: Right. Well, and we’ve also seen them say we’re working on this, we’ll get back to you shortly. And then a week or however many days later, they come back and say, oh, the other team said no, so they didn’t actually look into it or resolve anything anyway.
[00:07:41] Chris: Right. So I think the main message we want to talk about today is if you get a response from executive seller relations or from any escalation team that doesn’t add up and doesn’t make sense, you have to kind of push it back at them, right?
[00:07:56] Leah: Yeah. And that’s the thing that, you know, I think a lot of people who are maybe not as experienced with this as we are, we’ll just take whatever executive seller relations comes back with as like, oh well, that’s it. That’s all we can do. But we find that often times when we push back with that doesn’t make any sense or you’ve misunderstood the situation, and this is what’s happened. They will then reevaluate and come back with an actual response.
[00:08:24] Chris: We do understand how sellers take their word as gospel, because they can maybe see things you can’t and they act like very confident. Sometimes we’ve reviewed this and we’ve determined, you know, it’s very brief and succinct and direct as if they’re a voice of authority.
Often you have to point out to them things they’ve missed. They haven’t done a thorough job in some cases, they just sound authoritative. So you have to come back and say, no, you asked us for the documentation, here it is. You asked us for a comprehensive plan of action, here it is. We haven’t heard from your teams or even account health reps or anyone what was missing and what was incomplete.
[00:09:00} Leah: Right. And keeping in mind that just like all of the other teams, they have KPIs too. So it’s in their interest to try to close out the case as quickly as possible. So you just have to not let them do that if their resolution, isn’t actually a resolution. If they’re just sending you back to the team that didn’t do their job in the first place, they haven’t done their job.
Or, you know, if they’re saying that the relevant team will reach out to you and you haven’t heard from the team, don’t let them close the case. You need to respond to be like, we have heard from them this case isn’t resolved, please keep it open. You only have five days to respond to cases before they get closed, like a regular seller support case so you need to be actively responding to them when they mark the case answered.
[00:09:49] Chris: There’s a variety of skill levels, and a range of experience. Some of the reps you can tell they’ve been around the block, they know their way around. It doesn’t mean that they won’t do it quickly and they might not make mistakes because some of them are going through several of these in an hour or in a day, and they’re complex, they might not have the time to thoroughly review it, but, the rest of them might be just sort of limping along with their limited knowledge and maybe asking somebody else or taking a stab at it based on a prior experience that might not fit an apples and oranges comparison.
Then they might just kind of punt it off to another day. Well, we’ll just review it again and we’ll let you know, but the Siberia of we’re still reviewing, we’ll get back to you, doesn’t work at least for most of our clients but for most sellers, they don’t want to wait and lose that revenue. So you have to know how to kind of sharpen that stick and give them another poke in 48- 72 hours, which I think we understand that, but a lot of sellers are just missing that, or maybe they’re just tentative and afraid and hesitant to do that poking, but they really have to in most of these cases.
[00:11:00] Leah: Well, and I think the last thing that I would like to leave people with is just because you’ve escalated it and it’s been passed the executive seller relations, don’t be afraid to escalate it again if you need to. Once again, assuming that your escalation is completely solid and there is no reason for them to be coming back to you with nonsense, don’t be afraid to re- escalate it to whoever delegated it to executive seller relations and say Hey, thanks for delegating this, but they’re not actually investigating it or doing anything that makes any sense, because one, it puts it back in front of the person who delegated it in the first place and two, it shows whoever has your case assigned that you’re not just going to wait around for them to come back with whatever they feel like you will go back to their boss if you need to.
[00:11:46] Chris: But edit and change the second escalation, the further escalating, don’t just send them the same thing as last time.
[00:11:52] Leah: Tell them exactly what’s happening. You need to escalate and say, you delegated this. This is what’s happening. It doesn’t make any sense. You need to actually properly escalate this case for review.
[00:12:04] Chris: And that has to be clear in what you write. I know a lot of people don’t feel comfortable writing these things, but sending them the same thing over and over, that looks like spam. And they’ll just say, you already sent us this, so I don’t need to read this. And you might even have new information below the first several lines, but if they think that you’ve copied and pasted any part of it, then they’ll throw it away and then you’re wasting their time. They’ll end up wasting your time and you don’t get any farther ahead.
[00:12:30] Leah: I mean, if you’re escalating it, it needs to be something that Amazon has done wrong. You can’t just escalate it because you didn’t like their response to something that you did wrong. You need to have a reason to escalate. And your reason to escalate has to be because something on Amazon side is broken or did not work.
[00:12:46] Chris: Right. And in closing, please, I know we’ve said this before, but do not find generic Jeff escalations online and copy and paste that because somebody said I used this three years ago and it worked, we understand that there are stray examples of escalations written to Jeff from two years ago that sneaked through. But, for the most part, lacking care and attention and not crafting unique wording or correspondence that goes to executive seller relations, doesn’t get you anywhere. If anything, it burns a bridge to the appeals teams and you likely don’t want that to happen Iid your top selling ASIN is down. So, thanks again for listening to this podcast, Seller Performance Solutions, we love hearing from you. So follow up with us with any questions or comments and we will catch you next time.
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