Amazon introduce 24/7 communication metric requirements

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