Amazon Sellers: Know Your Counterpart

As an Amazon seller, do you ever wonder why Amazon merchant investigation teams operate the way they do? Do you ask yourself, or Amazon, why nobody there reads your emails and why investigators send the same response messaging over and over?

I’ve created a cheat sheet of 10 pain points that investigators feel in the course of executing their roles. You’ll learn some hazards that investigators face while digging into performance and policy-related queue work.

It’s important that you understand how the person reviewing your account thinks, behaves and decides. What are the daily challenges of the investigator who holds your potential future Amazon life in their hands? You’ll write a much better Plan of Action and provide more detailed, worthwhile documentation to Amazon’s Product Quality squad if you grasp how the information needs to be presented. Amazon offers Service Level Agreements (SLA) on email queues so remember that investigators bear the ultimate burden of hitting those reply-time targets.

Understanding Your Investigator

1. They have no time to read long emails, and everyone gives them long emails.
When Amazon requests a few bits of information to include in your reply or account appeal, they guide you with their specific needs. Many sellers write a Plan of Action (POA) that drowns the reader in superfluous text that ignores these hints. You cannot submit whatever pops into your head first. Worse, some sellers do eventually get to the good stuff but only after a long diatribe of commentary. You’re making your counterpart’s job a lot harder by doing this so remember how many emails they’ve had to read all day long. Keep it factual, focused, and targeted on identifying problems and solutions. Don’t motivate them to skip you and move on.

2. Amazon managers enforce investigator metrics based on how many contacts they resolve per hour.
One reason no investigator wants to read long screeds that don’t address the core matters at hand is because they must finish yours within a certain timeframe. They have to worry about their IPH (Investigations completed Per Hour) and they must keep things moving accordingly. Understand their need to size you up and decide your fate quickly. They’re internally pressured to do so.

3. Amazon managers are moving investigators in and out of queues and from one team to another, back and forth as needed.
Multiple internal sources made it clear to me that several investigators had to move into Product Quality email queues with limited training time to get up to speed. These investigators may not have much prior contact with policy queues but still have to execute make or break decisions on seller accounts. When they read yours, they may be new to the process and prove indecisive after reviewing the account.

4. They have internal escalations that come in outside of their already-full email queues.
There are escalations that come up internally via Jeff B teams when sellers email directly to Executive Seller Relations. There are others that come in from VPs who were contacted by a large suspended seller they met once at a conference. Lead or senior investigators must handle these, in theory, but in practice they cannot handle them all. This squeezes the SLAs for the email queues even more.

5. Invoices can be really hard to read due to language, incoherent layout, or inferior copy.
Don’t submit unreadable and unprofessional invoices that investigators struggle to decipher. You’re not doing your account any favors by assuming they will hunt around for little bits of information to confirm the legitimacy of your products.

6. Account annotations can be hard to read, too, if the prior investigator did not do a good job.
The first investigator looking things over may not have the same competency level as subsequent ones. Annotations may not represent the previous email you sent in, or any of its attachments. This makes it doubly hard for the next person to get the full picture.

7. Some sellers don’t write well and don’t investigate the real causes of account problems.
Use your best writers for any email that is important to the life of your account because it is extremely hard to read bad writing when you’ve been doing it all day. Disorganized or disconnected thoughts, bad punctuation, poor grammar, and tangents that lead nowhere do not help your cause. Revising, reviewing and rereading makes everyone happy in the end.

8. They have a rotating door of managers to report to.
In Transaction Risk Management Services, managers are known to hop from role to role and sometimes to hop to other parts of Amazon or out of the company completely. This creates a lack of consistency and disrupts standard operating procedures. It also affects responsiveness to complaints and the quality of responses to escalations, both internal and external.

9. They are audited on the decisions they make.
Investigators need to worry about internal review of their decisions, especially if they reinstate a seller who later creates bad debt and bad buyer experiences. They live in fear of mistakes blowing up in their faces and their auditors may or may not have the competency to judge their moves properly.

10. Amazon never knows when hoverboard crises will come up.
Oh, those hoverboards. Well, these kinds of time- sensitive problems require immediate action. That can take time, people, effort, and mental energy too. It may affect what happens to your account review later that day if there’s even less time to read it.

So The Lesson Is…
Take advantage of any opportunity to think like an Amazon investigator who looks at both seller accounts and seller appeals for the majority of their working day. Once you understand the bits of information they seek while reviewing your account, you’ll find yourself much better positioned to provide such details.

This post, Know Your Counterpart, originally appeared on the ecommerceChris blog.
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