Amazon introduce 24/7 communication metric requirements

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Amazon are stepping up efforts to ensure that retailers trading on the platform respond to buyers in a timely fashion. However it’s generating complaints from sellers that they’re being forced to work seven days a week.

One seller told us “Basically, they are now forcing us to respond to 90% of messages within 24 hours. We already work 6 days of the week, this essentially means we have to work 7 days to cope with this“.

One problem is that not every message requires a response, if the buyer responds with a “Thanks for the information” you still need to mark the message as “Not needing a response” or it’ll count as a black mark against your metrics. If you fail to respond in time (including over weekends and Bank Holidays) then you could face restrictions on your account. On the plus side Amazon say that merchants who respond to 90% or more communications within 24 hours receive 24% less negative feedback than sellers who are slower to respond.

In truth this is probably going to hit larger merchants harder – small retailers often routinely deal with emails seven days a week anyway, but the corporate high street retailers don’t generally have admin staff working on Sundays and often not on Saturdays either. You won’t be able to knock off work at Saturday lunchtime and not worry about your online sales until Monday morning, at some point on Sunday you’ll have to check your Amazon messages and respond to them to ensure your account is safe.

Of course you could take the risk that 90% of emails will be responded to in a timely fashion during the week, but the 10% allowance for responding after 24 hours means that having Sunday off will on average put you 14% down, and if Sunday is one of your busiest days it’ll be more than 14%.

How do you handle customer communications at the weekends? Do you respond on Saturdays and Sundays and do you have to pay staff to work weekends just to deal with messages?

Communications instruction email from Amazon

Dear Seller,
Buyers tell us that receiving timely responses from sellers to their enquiries is an important contributor to their overall satisfaction with an order. Our research has shown that sellers who respond to 90% or more of their messages within 24 hours have nearly 24% less negative feedback than sellers who take longer to respond.
To help make your Amazon Marketplace transactions successful, we recommend that you respond to buyer enquiries within 24 hours. You can access buyer enquiries by clicking the “Messages” link in the upper-right corner of your seller account home page. Copies of messages are also sent to the e-mail address associated with your account.
You can monitor your average response times on the Customer Metrics page of your seller account. Your Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time metrics are located at the bottom of the page.
For more information on how response time metrics are calculated, search on “Contact Response Time Metrics” in our online seller Help.
The following are some best practices for achieving a great response time metric:
– Regularly monitor your response time metrics.
– Check your seller account for messages every day, including at the weekend.
– Mark messages you have read but not responded to as “unread” in your e-mail client.
– Use a Contact Response Management (CRM) system to track enquiries.
– Let buyers know if a question or issue will require additional time to research.
– If you receive the same questions on a regular basis, consider creating a document with prepared answers.
Regards,
Amazon Services Europe

23 Responses

  1. The Amazon CRM is erm not very good, it filters messages without telling you, you can’t send links to Amazon pages without it having a fit and the whole “mark as no response needed” is simply Amazon adding further steps into what was a simple process. All of the “improvements” recently have done exactly the same while the Catalog in ungated categories where barcodes are not mandatory is a shambles with many ASIN’s for the same product and errant customer reviews. Seller support are useless unless you phone which means to get an ASIN merged takes 15 mins and pot luck that you don’t get someone who barely speaks English let alone understands a technical question.

    Amazon used to be very very good, the quality of the catalog is going downhill fast and they don’t seem to be bothered.

  2. So yet another online selling portal needlessly tightens the screws again.

    What is the world coming to?

    Not that I’m surprised, of course …..

  3. very frustrating and not the best of ideas….especially when their own customer service team doesn’t respond within 24 hrs, last Christmas it took over two days to receive a response.

    I don’t know of many online businesses that run 24/7 anyway, most close at the weekends as there is no post!

  4. If you need to contact “Seller Performance”, which can only be done through an email system that does not allow for continuation of dialogue, you are lucky if you get a response at all. If you do get a response more than likely it will just be a standard “form” reply and very possibly not related to your original message. In dealing with the likes of Amazon/eBay etc. “What’s good for the goose” most certainly doesn’t apply.

  5. in a recent webinar on amazon Carole stated weekends dont count for metrics as like weekends dont count for despatch days

    Personally I find amAZOn CS far better than ebays, its generally quite smetimes within a few hours, normally they have read it and answer it with detail and information, unlike ebay that answer when they want and with a standard copy and paste reply

  6. I have no problem with this. It will make shoppers choose smaller independents over large retailers because their service will be better. And anyone who has tested this will know, as Amazon’s own research has shown, that the quicker you respond to a query the less likely you are to get an agressive buyer and/or negative feedback.

    As many have said in the past about eBay as well, if you don’t like it don’t sell there. It’s their site and they have every right to dictate terms. If it weeds out some sellers all the better for the ones that remain. 🙂

  7. As a solution, if we were to have an “out of office reply” along the lines of “we will respond to your message on Monday” which was activated on Saturday this would count as a response for the metrics as far as I can tell. Has anyone tried this?

  8. Guess I’ll have to reply to Amazon messages every day even when on holiday otherwise we would come back from a week off with no Amazon account. I wish Amazon wasn’t so important to us.

  9. Sounds like good news to me.

    Not sure why folk would be upset by this move, it might help sort the wheat from the chaff.

    Thanks to the explosion of online sales I’m enjoying a great lifestyle, would I trade that for a 9 -5 job just because I don’t like how ecommerce is developing, erm no.

  10. In the US, they have a way of verifying automatically whether your tracked parcel has arrived on time. They want you to be a robot, maybe I am now?

  11. I have spoken to Seller Support regarding this issue. They responded with the following:

    In regards to our phone conversation yesterday, for the vacation settings side of things, you can set your seller central account to vacation then set your Outlook email account to vacation and set up an out of office response on it.

    This will work for you at the weekends also.

    That way sellers could implement vacation settings every Friday for weekends (for sellers solely using FBA) and as an automated response has been sent via outlook it would not affect your metrics as you have ‘responded’ within 24 hours.

  12. @book warehouse

    Please write us a guest post. You know your stuff and clearly have thinks to say. It would be much appreciated by Tamebay readers.

    Best,

    Dan

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