The policies for responding to Amazon customer messages are available to every seller within Seller Central. Often, however, sellers don’t have the time that it takes to go through all the very many Amazon guidelines. Sometimes, we just forget what the most important ones are, like how to respond to Amazon customer messages.
It’s easy to make a mistake when communicating with Amazon customers, and you don’t want to do that. Amazon fiercely guards their customer experience. Doing anything that violates their requirements, intentionally or not, can get you in trouble. Amazon may place sanctions on you for violating policies. Your business can also suffer because Amazon customer service plays a role in your search visibility, Buy Box share, and sales.
So here’s how to use the Amazon messaging system and the best practices for communicating with Amazon customers.
Using Amazon Buyer Seller Messages
This internal messaging system for sellers must be enabled to allow communications with customers about orders. (FBA sellers can also use Buyer Seller Messages to answer customer questions about products before they buy.) To do this, navigate to Settings, then Fulfillment by Amazon, then click “Edit” under Product Support. You will then see the button to “Enable” messaging. Click “Update” and you should be ready to use the system.
To contact a customer before they have contacted you, you need to navigate to that customer’s order and click “Contact Buyer”. A page will open where you can type and submit your message. After this, you can access your sent message and any replies through the “Messages” tab on your Seller central dashboard.
Why Use the Messaging Service
The best advantage of using Amazon Buyer Seller Messages is really the convenience it provides. The system is right there within the main menu in Seller Central. There’s no need to look up a customer’s email and copy that to an email client.
Like many other email clients, Amazon messaging is also secure. It uses encryption to mask the true emails of both the seller and the customer. Of course, Amazon also does this so that sellers can’t remarket to customers outside of Amazon.
You can attach up to 10MB of .TXT, PDFs, Word documents and/or images (.jpg, .gif, .tiff, .bmp, and .png) to your Amazon messages and receive the same. Note that any attachments are governed by the same rules as the message text itself; otherwise, they will be removed.
Moreover, buyers and sellers can view Amazon emails from popular email clients like Gmail, Outlook etc. This makes tracking them easier; i.e., there’s no need to be logging into Seller Central every time you want to check for new messages.
You can also send messages using your email client of choice, however. Simply send to the encrypted email address provided for the customer in Seller Central. Because the email passes through the Amazon messaging service, the customer will not be able to see your real email address. Using your personal or business email can be an important advantage because of the time limit that Amazon puts on responses – more on this below.
In connection, questions and disputes from the customer side as well as seller attempts to resolve complaints and negative feedback and reviews can go more quickly and smoothly within the Seller Central platform. This is aided by the access that Amazon has to seller-buyer correspondence. Amazon can step in as needed to aid resolution.
Guidelines for Amazon Customer Messages
Here’s what you need to remember about Amazon customer messages, whether or not you’re using the internal system. We’ll start with the things that you must not do, then finish up with best practices for communicating with Amazon customers.
You must not send customers any website links, whether in plain text or embedded in an image, etc. All promotional or marketing information is likewise prohibited. You must not make mention of any products or promotions outside of Amazon.
Don’t think that you can trick Amazon. Many have tried and failed, some with dire consequences – getting kicked off the marketplace. The opportunity to sell to Amazon customers is too valuable to play around with. Instead, if you want to expand your reach, open up other selling channels to retarget and take advantage of other Amazon strategies to increase traffic and sales.
Critical to Order Completion
Amazon considers certain types of messages as critical to customer order completion. These are questions about product customization, scheduling a delivery and shipping address issues.
Other Amazon customer messages are not critical and may not be delivered if the customer chooses not to receive them. These include order updates, requests for feedback or reviews, product usage guides and tips.
Feedback and Reviews
Do not ask for positive feedback or reviews. Customers don’t like being pressured in this way, and Amazon is very big on customer trust and satisfaction. Guard your Customer Metrics by respecting this.
Amazon already asks for feedback and reviews, so you don’t need to. But if you must, don’t try to sway their responses with leading sentence structures or by offering incentives. Just provide great customer service. Positive responses will follow naturally.
Proactive Customer Service
Keep your Amazon customer messages to a minimum. You don’t want to annoy customers who haven’t yet opted out. This gives you the opportunity to communicate with them freely, and it’s an important asset.
Customer service should be intentional. Don’t just throw a bunch of emails at them hooping that some will have a positive effect. More often than not, the negative effects will be greater. Plan your customer messaging so that you build a solid email follow-up strategy for forming strong relationships and encouraging positive feedback and reviews.
Most sellers don’t do this, so it could be them who prompt customers to opt out of seller emails. But look at this from a positive perspective. They aren’t creating a good experience, and you can. You can stand out and make customers think twice about opting out, or at least feel compelled by the huge difference in your approach to tell others how great you are.
Being proactive also means giving customers the information they need. Don’t assume that they’ve thoroughly read your product page and policies before buying, and don’t make them feel stupid by pointing that out when you provide that information again. Remain polite and whenever possible, give in a little to improve the customer experience even if the customer is actually in the wrong.
Amazon monitors Amazon customer messages, and requires sellers to respond to all relevant messages within 24 hours. If you don’t consistently meet the deadline, your Customer Metrics will take a hit. As busy as you are, you must set aside time to read and respond to messages within this 24-hour period. As mentioned above, you can use your own email client to make this easier.
Of course, you will sometimes get spam or a concluding message that does not require a response. In these cases, you must still prove that you’ve checked the message by clicking on the button that says “No response necessary.”
You can set Amazon customer messages to inactive if you will be away and cannot respond to messages within the 24-hour limit. This will save you from any repercussions of not responding to messages within the usual 24-hour time frame.
It does not apply, however, to messages from customers who placed orders before you went inactive. For these. You are still expected to respond promptly. A better option to vacation mode is to get some help to cover Amazon customer messages while you are away.
Because Amazon guards customers so vigorously, they tend to be more spoiled than the average shopper who’s used to always being right. When you come in contact with a customer who is overbearing, demanding or feisty, don’t get upset and don’t start or fuel an argument. Take a beat and respond with a cool head.
Amazon will usually side with the customer, so your best bet is to appease the customer. If they are being overly unreasonable, you can escalate to Amazon, but make sure that you have done your best all throughout so that Amazon has no reason to decide against you.
Amazon customers are allowed to opt out of seller feedback. If you use the usual method to initiate contact with a customer who has opted out, your message will not be delivered. There is a work-around that you can use if you must contact a customer, but it should be used with caution:
Simply begin your message from the customer order page and choose “Additional Information Required” as the email subject. Add your message as usual and it should be delivered to the customer. Don’t abuse this workaround, however, or the customer is likely to report you to Amazon.
If a customer has sent you a message previously that you need to respond to, you can reply to the original message to make sure that your response goes through. Keeping the original Amazon customer message in your reply will also help.
Always remember that on Amazon, the customer comes first no matter what. They may be in the wrong, but you must still treat them with respect and keep them happy. They have the power.
Amazon itself is almost as unforgiving as customers with regard to their policies. You don’t want to upset them.
The best strategy when dealing with Amazon customer messages is to always follow the rules and be proactive about providing the best customer experience you can. Rebelling against Amazon is never a good idea.