Misusing the escalation process can do you more harm than good. Chris McCabe explains how to it use it effectively to get your account back.
This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team and founder of ecommerceChris.com. ecommerceChris shows Amazon sellers how to keep their accounts healthy, or, if the worst should happen, how to get their account back from a suspension.
Recently, I’ve seen a lot of information telling Amazon sellers that the quick way to get their accounts reinstated, following a suspension, is by escalating their appeal to a team higher up within Amazon.
This has led to many sellers getting the wrong impression, and thinking that the minute their POA is rejected by Amazon, they should start firing off emails to Jeff Bezos and the Executive Seller Relations team.
What these sellers aren’t being told though is that escalating your appeal will only work IF you do it at the right time, with a solid Plan of Action (POA) behind you.
This is not the correct course of action, and can actually hurt your chances of reinstatement. Simply spamming my former teams with the same weak POA is just burning through your chances and could lead them to stop corresponding with you, leaving your account permanently suspended.
So, in this post, I will explain how Amazon sellers can use the escalations process effectively, to get their account reinstated. We’ll cover what an escalation is, where Bezos escalations fit in, the common mistakes sellers making when submitting escalations, and how to make investigators take your escalated appeal seriously.
What is an escalation?
Let’s start at the very beginning. The escalation process allows Amazon sellers to get their Plan of Action reviewed by a team higher up in Amazon’s ecosystem. The idea is that these teams may spot something that Seller Performance or Product Quality have missed, giving sellers another shot at being reinstated.
The type of escalation that sellers tend be most familiar with, are Bezos escalations, or “letters to Jeff”, where they send their appeal letter and POA to email@example.com. But, sellers can also get their appeal reviewed by the Executive Seller Relations team.
When is the right time to escalate your appeal?
So, you’ve been suspended from Amazon. You sent in an appeal with a POA that you thought was strong, but it got rejected. Is this the best time to escalate your appeal?
No, not at all. You can’t go straight to Jeff and pester him with daily emails until you get what you want, it simply doesn’t work that way. Spamming Jeff or Seller Performance is a sure fire way to lose time, lose sales and kill your overall chances of getting back on. Yet, sellers continue to think that this is the best way to get reinstated.
During my time at Amazon, I handled Bezos escalations that came down to my team. Jeff would review the emails that were sent directly to him, and delegate the cases that needed reviewing with a “?” tacked on – and that’s all. From this experience, I know how sellers should word escalation emails, and I also know the common misconceptions about writing to Jeff.
The primary one, is that you’re not asking Jeff for help – you need to make a strong case for why your appeal should be reviewed again. The fact that you didn’t like the last answer you received will not cut it.
Escalations are not just angry POAs, you need to make it clear in your opening paragraph that you’ve already submitted everything Amazon requested, but failed to receive a meaningful reply.
If your POA addressed the root causes of your suspension, presented valid steps to fix them, and the investigator made a clear error by not reinstating you immediately, then great. Escalate to the Executive Seller Relations team and get yourself reviewed again. But, if you’re less than 100% sure about all that, come up with a stronger plan of action before trying again.
Do you know how an escalation is supposed to sound? Make sure you do, in case you only get one shot. Are you expecting them to reply as quickly as they did last time? Don’t. Email queues do not work that way. You don’t want to start drowning them in escalations before they even reply once.
What happens if I escalate my appeal too soon?
Frequently, sellers escalate much too early, before they’ve properly assessed the viability of their POA.
If you get the timing of an escalation wrong and shoot too soon, that affects your odds of reinstatement. You only get so many chances. If you pummel the wrong queues, bother the wrong people, or fail to write a properly formatted escalation, Amazon may not give you another opportunity. Investigators will annotate your account with “FW” (Final Word – no future replies expected) and move on to the next seller without losing sleep over it.
So if you submitted a POA that lacked essential ingredients, and your revised plan didn’t get you anywhere either, don’t escalate. Focus on making your POA stronger first.
How to use the escalation process effectively
The first step that all Amazon sellers should take before they start, is to make sure they understand the escalation process, and what it requires. Remember, you’re not just sending a POA at that point, you’re sending TWO documents, or a document with two distinct pieces – your escalation letter plus your Plan of Action.
In my experience, there are three key elements to a successful escalation.
1. Focus on what and not where
You need to make sure you focus first on WHAT you’re sending, not simply WHERE to send it. If you’re only sending the same unacceptable POA to Jeff over and over and pleading for his help, you’re doing it wrong. Jeff and his teams need reasons to review you again, so give them at least one.
Based on my conversations with clients and what I see on Facebook group threads, too many sellers believe a successful appeal centers around where you send it and who reads it. You actually need a comprehensive and viable Plan of Action and an escalation letter that draws attention to each salient point included, that the investigator has somehow missed.
The “Where” is the easy part: there are established email queues and managers to send appeals to. The “What” is a lot harder for sellers to understand.
2. Ask for a Senior Investigator or Manager to review your POA
Specifically ask in your escalated appeal for a “senior investigator or Seller Performance manager” to review your newly revised POA. Don’t dwell on the fact that their teams haven’t replied with anything beyond generic messages. You are escalating your appeal so it gets fresh consideration, not simply to complain. Remember that you want something from them, and they need a compelling reason to give it to you.
Indicate in your concisely worded introduction that you understand the nature and causes of your suspension. Then, use a couple of lines to highlight the strongest parts of the POA they’re about to read. In brief, you’re emphasizing that you’ve identified the root causes of the problems that led to your suspension.
3. Make sure your key actions stand out
Since Seller Performance investigators occasionally miss important details, you need to call out the main two or three actions that prove your POA is legitimate.
If you already provided all the information that Seller Performance asked for, but weren’t reinstated, perhaps it wasn’t explicit enough. So, in your revised plan, explain that Seller Performance may have failed to appreciate the value of the measures you’ve put in place and detail them again, clearly, for Executive Seller Relations to review.
It’s also worth mentioning that you haven’t received an indication that investigators appreciated the past information that you provided, despite the fact that it matches what they asked for.
Don’t look back in anger. With a solid revised plan that passes the sniff test, and a properly written escalation message, you can send it to Executive Seller Relations and expect a good result.
It is totally understandable that when Amazon sellers are suspended, they want to get back on as quickly as possible. For the vast majority it’s their livelihood, and if they are only selling through one channel, it may well be their only income.
But, before you load up the shotgun and fire emails in every direction, take a moment to think about what you’re doing. By being hasty, you could find yourself suspended for longer, or in the very worst case, indefinitely.
So, take a breath, put the gun down and check your POA thoroughly. Is it better than the one that Amazon rejected? If you’re completely sure, then start the escalation process by sending an email to the relevant team. Try your best to stay patient and don’t chase it up immediately.
If you’re not convinced that your POA is better, then don’t start the escalation process. Get some help to refine your POA and make sure that it’s as strong as possible before you start to think about escalating your appeal.
Chris offers 30 minute consultations, where he reviews POAs and escalations before sellers send them in to Amazon. You can book a consultation with Chris here.