Amazon is encouraging their retailers to comply with new 24/7 buyer communication requirements, and is getting complaints from sellers, who say new policies are forcing them to stay open for business 7 days a week.
One seller told Tamebay, "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 occurs when not every buyer message requires a response. If a buyer emails a vendor to say to say "thanks" for an item, the vendor will get a demerit against his or her seller metrics, if they don't promptly mark the message as "not needing a response." If these black marks add up on seller profiles, even when neglected on weekends and holidays, restrictions can be placed on vendor accounts.
The Amazon buyer-seller contact response time management feature tracks customer service-oriented stats, and Amazon notes that "customers who do not receive timely responses are more likely to leave negative feedback, or file A-to-Z Guarantee claims, which impact performance metrics. The contact response time tracker doesn't accomodate for weekends or holidays, which might make things plainly annoying for small vendors, but possibly a big problem for large businesses, who might not have administrators in the office on a Sunday.
The following is a buyer communication instructional email from Amazon Services Europe:
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.
Amazon Services Europe
It would seem like a small-volume seller would be taking a risk to have his or her Amazon account suspended, if they were to step away from the internet for periods longer than 24 hours from time to time. Larger vendors would likely just have to hire weekend staff. So, if one were to offer great customer service, along all traditional lines, this would mean nothing, if the seller failed to click on a buyer's thank you note.