Season 1, Episode 61

What does Executive Seller Relations do?

Having your issue delegated to Executive Seller Relations for problem resolution can feel like a lost cause. In this episode Chris and Leah debate on the inefficiency of Executive Seller Relations and the reasons why it seems even harder to communicate with them lately.

Show Notes


[00:00:07] Leah: Hey, Amazon sellers. Welcome to Seller Performance Solutions. I am Leah McHugh with eCommerceChris and I am here with the eCommerceChris, Chris McCabe.

[00:00:17] Chris: The Chris, the Chris eCommerce.Chris. Yes. Yes. I’m excited to be talking about what we’re talking about today. So–

[00:00:24] Leah: Yeah, so for a change, Chris and I don’t fully agree on this one. But I have been seeing more and more communication from the executive seller relations team that indicates to me that they no longer have the access or power that they used to. So historically, That was really the only team within Amazon, outside of like the higher level executives who actually had access to all of the other teams. So they could contact the abuse teams and they could contact legal and compliance and seller performance.

I’m seeing more and more executive seller relations coming back saying we don’t have access to that team, or we don’t have access to those tools and they just send you back to whatever path that you had tried to go through originally, which didn’t work, which is the whole reason that you had to escalate it and it was delegated to executive seller relations in the first place. Chris has a different view–

[00:01:17] Chris: it’s circular.

Of how— of what this means.

Well, no, it’s circular. Well, I just don’t think it’s news that it’s circular. What’s new. Is that they say, like, we can’t transfer this for you. We can’t see the annotations. You and I disagree on whether or not they’re being a hundred percent truthful when they say that. I think you take them more at their word.

[00:01:38] Leah: Well, no, I don’t– I’ve just seen it so many times at this point. Okay. That if they were lying and then we re escalate it and name them and call them out on it. I just can’t imagine that that would keep happening over and over again.

[00:01:56] Chris: I don’t know if they’re lying. They’re just accustomed to passing the buck, transferring things, not wanting to deal with things and trying to get stuff off their plate. Just the way seller performance always historically was. That’s the biggest knock against my former team. Right? Is they look for excuses not to read a plan of action, not to look at an appeal, not to have to make a decision. This is the biggest knock against, I think marketplace management and enforcement generally speaking.

[00:02:26] Leah: Yeah. I just think that if we’re calling them out on it to their bosses fairly regularly, that they’re lying about what they have access to. That there would be something, you could be right. It could be just a lie to not have to do anything. I’ve seen it so many times at this point that I find it hard to believe that they’re all just lying about the same thing.

[00:02:49] Chris: No, what they have access to they’ve always disagreed even within teams, even with each other, what they have access to just like calling account health services, you get about seven different answers on what they can do, what they can’t do. Can they access annotations about why an appeal was denied or can they not, you get seven different answers.

They can’t even be consistent on the most basic points. Some of them will say, I’ll submit this appeal for you because something was missed, something went wrong and others will say, I have no ability to resubmit anything for you, no matter what the circumstances. So I think it’s parallel to account health services.

And also, I know we can back up a second talk about what executive seller relations is. I know what caused this and it’s all of the people sending all appeals or all kinds of messaging. To the Jeff at Amazon email address and expecting to get a proper review by ESR executive seller relations. So they’ve drowned that queue in that team in a lot of junk and they had to start watering down the review process, watering down the response process when, when I was there and I was working on the Bezos escalations or things that went to executive seller relations, where I had to pick that message that a lot of you have seen that says, you know, Jeff read your message.

And he asked me to review this and respond on his behalf. They did change that a little bit and take Jeff’s name out after he left as CEO and they started inserting other people’s names, but they’re still using the same basic template from 8, 9, 10 years ago. It’s been overused. I mean, Amazon sellers love to overuse email queues and they love to write to Jeff, even now that’s what concerns me that this is so outdated and that sellers are just reading. Maybe you can tell me, I mean, old forum posts, ancient Facebook messages with ancient ad posts.

[00:04:42] Leah: Well, I mean, there’s just so much bad information on the internet.

[00:04:46] Chris: 
Bad suggestions. Yeah. I can’t figure out if somebody in a Facebook group is posting a comment, trying to look knowledgeable because you know, they’re selling something and that’s why they say write to Jeff, or if it’s just old regurgitated information that no one’s taken the time to, to render obsolete.

I mean, I think it’s just a known path that still does regularly elicit a response, not necessarily a useful response, but they do actually get a response to it and it’s known. So I think that’s why we’ll see, we see it used so often because it is one of the most well known escalation paths. I mean, it definitely seems like there are a lot more people on the executive seller relations team. For a while I could identify them by name. That’s not the case anymore. There seems to be like, there are a lot more, but to me it just seems like there’re an extension of seller support at this point. And my question is if they don’t have the ability to do what that team was made for what is even the point of having that team?

Yeah. It’s window dressing and it’s kind of glorified support, which they consider a higher level of support.

[00:05:53] Leah: But they haven’t fixed the issue that caused the need for that team to exist. They just taken that team’s ability away to do anything while still mm-hmm, having the original issues.

That was the reason for that team to be created in the first place. So it’s just made it even more convoluted to get things corrected.

[00:06:15] Chris:
 I think we can disagree on this perhaps, too, but I think I know why, I think they’ve been gravitating towards a fee for service model for years. I mean, yeah. And I think they want you to pay for an account manager and they want the SAS core tickets that your Sam, your strategic account manager creates, they want that to be your escalation, which is an internal escalation process.

[00:06:38] Leah: 
That doesn’t work very well either.

[00:06:39] Chris: But that doesn’t work very well either. I mean, most of our paying clients have account managers.

[00:06:42] Leah: Right. And that doesn’t get them very far.

[00:06:45] Chris: Well, the second piece to this, of course, without going down this rabbit hole. They have had to internally restrict who can view what? So they’re not really lying when they say I can’t view certain kinds of compliance, annotations or account annotations. They are being truthful about that because with some employee bad behavior, which of course is surfaced in the press and, and this lawsuit that cropped up, where the feds are, are going after people who are paying employees to reinstate listings and accounts. Amazon internally had to totally change the rules on who could access what and who could read what? So that’s not a complete fabrication, but we’re curious as to why approved certified investigators for executive seller relations don’t have access to things that you would need to see in order to properly adjudicate and appeal, or like an escalation.

[00:07:35] Leah
: So, right. I mean, if you’re escalating it, because the team that’s supposed to fix this, isn’t doing their job, how are they supposed to do anything if they can’t access that team or they can’t access tools to even see what it is you’re talking about. Yeah. Just sending you back to the team that didn’t do their job in the first place? I mean, it’s not surprising , but it’s also a waste of time for everybody because it’s creating more cases on Amazon side, as well as creating bigger headaches on the seller side.

[00:08:04] Chris: 
And it’s disappointing more than surprising and it’s disappointing for a very specific reason. They’re not realistic about what will happen when they keep sending you to a junk team that can’t help you. Obviously you’re going to go over everyone’s head and complain that the channels you’ve been given, aren’t functional, aren’t audited, aren’t practical, aren’t working. You have no choice if your listing is down, you’re losing thousands a day. Your whole account is down. Do you really expect to just stay in. People that stay in seller central and get the same copy and paste like garbage messages.

But Amazon will also penalize you. If you send too many messages that they deem to be incorrect, we’ve seen people suspended for that and they also can take away your brand registry. If they’re not acting on your notice claims of infringement and you keep filing correct ones and they just keep rejecting them, eventually they take away your brand registry. So, just to take away the team that was supposed to be able to actually see all of these things is disappointing.

And we’ll do a separate episode about the people we’re working with, who have legitimate intellectual property complaints that file them and get them rejected by people inside Amazon who obviously have no idea what IP means. But this just reminds me of when they started pumping out those responses, you’ve appealed to the wrong channel. You’ve emailed the wrong channel, right. They severed all these pads. Of communication and thinking this will be better, we’ll centralize, we’ll gather everyone in seller central and we’ll keep them there because it’s easier for us. And it’s convenient for us.

[00:09:45] Leah: Well, that’s not a terrible plan if the team is able to actually do their job, if the team just ‘continues to not really properly review things, then no, it’s not gonna work.

[00:09:57] Chris: And you’re just getting generic template, no information responses through the seller central channel. So it wasn’t done for like functionality, it was done for their convenience. It’s done for their reasons. It’s hard to get certain people at Amazon to sit down with you and admit that these things aren’t working the way they were intended to work, because they’re so used to kind of using the scripted responses, which is, you know, the process was designed to deal with the problem you’re talking about, go back through the process. Well, just the fact that they’re telling you to go back to the process that didn’t work.

Well, you’re going in reverse because they told you, I mean, maybe they should just be more blunt with, which is tell you the process works. You’re not doing it right. You need to do again because what’s breaking here is you not us, but they’re not willing to admit that.

[00:10:51] Leah: And also that’s not true half the time, a lot of the time you’re submitting real information, correct information. I’m not even talking about if you’re suspended and your plan of action is getting rejected. I’m talking about any number of reasons where something has gone wrong on Amazon’s side, and nobody knows what to do about it on their side. So the easiest thing is to just say, Nope, no problem. You’re wrong. And then you’re back where you started.

[00:11:20] Chris: 
That’s easier to admit. That’s easier than admitting we don’t know what to do. I don’t have time to figure it out. I’m on the clock. I might look like I’m ignorant about my own job, if I ask too many questions about what to do. So I’m gonna shuffle it off somewhere and hope that the next person can handle it. That’s what they’re not admitting.

[00:11:40] Leah: And I think why this is so disappointing to me is that I clearly over optimistically hoped that things would improve under Jassy, and so far, it seems like those teams are in worse shape than they were previously. So yeah, maybe the fixes are in the works and maybe a year from now, I’ll be singing a different tune, but so far things are worse not better.

[00:12:08] Chris: Well within the next year, we have to go through another very hectic Q4. So I hope that’s not true. And I hope things iron out quicker than that, because I mean, Andy Jassy has been around for almost 12 months as the CEO, he was around before that of course, but this is his show now. And we’re seeing in the news, lots of executives reshuffling at the top of the company.

[00:12:30] Leah: I’m just not seeing the, you know, he’s known for micromanaging and I’m not seeing the results. One would expect from a micromanager.

[00:12:40] Chris: I don’t take people back to the old days too much anymore, but in the old days, executive seller relations and escalations that were read by Jeff or his assistants, or even my boss or my boss’s boss, I could look around the room and see how many people were approved to work on those.

They were within my field division. And I was one of them and there were only a handful of us. So obviously over time. They’ve scaled it to the point where they’re throwing bodies at a problem. But what that means for you as a seller, trying to escalate appeals is don’t assume that just because they’ve got the fancy important sounding title of executive seller relations, that those are the top investigators on the team.

[00:13:21] Leah: Exactly.

[00:13:22] Chris: So any questions on this– I mean, this is a kind of complex topic, so let us know if you have any questions on it.

[00:13:29] Leah: And thank you for listening to our rant.

[00:13:31] Chris: Yes, I’m sure Leah and I will revisit this and debate and disagree on it again in the future. So look forward to that. Thanks Chris.

Mm-hmm . Bye. Bye.

Hosts & Guests

Chris McCabe

Leah McHugh


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