Some tasks are far too important to send overseas. Know who is writing your Amazon appeals.
By: Lesley Hensell
Who is writing your Amazon appeals? Should a virtual assistant (VA) on the other side of the globe write an appeal letter for your Amazon account?
In far too many cases, if you hire a company to help with your appeals, that’s exactly what happens. VAs can be extremely valuable to Amazon third-party sellers. But they are typically not well-suited to writing ASIN or account appeals.
What makes a great appeal writer?
At Riverbend, we have built a large team of consultants and account analysts. Our recipe for appeal writing success is as follows:
- Domain expertise. Our team includes professionals with backgrounds in investigations, retail and warehouse operations, online selling and more. Most have worked at Amazon here in the United States, in Seller Performance, Account Health Services or Seller Support. Many have sold on Amazon. All understand how businesses run in the United States, as well as how Amazon sellers operate.
- Interviewing and problem-solving skills. An effective appeal to Amazon isn’t just about telling Seller Performance what they wish to hear. Rather, it truly solves the underlying business issues causing complaints or problems. Our consultants speak with clients and suss out the problems. They advise our clients, answer their in-depth questions, and work together on real-world, effective solutions.
- Strong language skills. Certainly appeal writing is serious business that requires a full command of the English language – written and spoken. In addition, a knowledge of the colloquialisms of the marketplace in question is a huge plus.
What are the gaps for overseas appeal writers?
When companies rely on overseas VAs to write appeals, it can cause a wide range of problems:
- No phone support. Sellers should have phone and email access to the person who is writing their Amazon appeals, so they can explain the issue, ask questions, and arrive at a solution. Email support – direct with the appeal writer – should be a given. If a seller doesn’t have the ability to speak with the consultant or another well-versed team member, how can they get answers to important queries?
- Language skills. It’s difficult enough appealing to Amazon without language challenges.
- Lack of a big-picture vision. Overseas VAs are typically finding a sample past appeal they think might be close to the client’s situation. Then they cut-and-paste together a document that may or may not be relevant. This is not a recipe for long-term success – especially since it does nothing to solve the underlying issue.
- Lack of in-depth Amazon expertise. Overseas VAs typically have not worked in Seller Performance or Seller Support. They don’t know paths to escalate – which are critical these days. By using US-based, knowledgeable resources, you are much more likely to gain insights into your account and a positive result.
Look out for bait-and-switch
Service companies of all sizes and types pull bait-and-switch scams on Amazon sellers. A salesperson or account manager convinces the Amazon seller to sign up for their services. After that, one of two things might happen:
- Some companies give Amazon sellers form-letter appeals that were edited by an overseas VA to fit their situation. This customization is based solely on the notes take by the salesperson. No conversations ever happen with the appeal writer.
- Other companies use their more highly paid consultants to write account appeals. But if they sign clients up for ongoing account monitoring or ASIN appeals, those appeals are created by overseas VAs. Sometimes, US-based resources run interference so that clients don’t realize what is going on.
Why would someone do this? Simple. They are saving a lot of money on labor costs. Ownership makes a whole lot more money for sub-par service by untrained overseas resources.
The service you deserve
How can you know if you’re receiving quality service from skilled consultants?
- Look at the company web site. If a company has solid Amazon expertise, team members should be proudly featured online with details about their backgrounds.
- Only hire a company where a US-based team member answers the phone. Therefore, if you cannot get a human on the phone, run.
- Ask where the consultant working on your account is based.
- Ask when the consultant will reach out to you by phone or email. Ensure you are going to be contacted by the consultant – and not by a go-between like an account manager or a sales rep.
- If your service firm uses VAs, ask which tasks this group handles. Reasonable answers are tasks like Amazon customer service messages, reimbursements, listings audits, and other similar functions.
Lesley is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, where she oversees the firm’s client services team. She leverages two decades as a small business consultant to advise clients on profitability and operational performance. She has been an Amazon seller for almost a decade.