Meeting and maintaining Amazon’s buyer-seller contact response time (CRT) target can be challenging for any size business. Amazon sellers, including large direct-to-consumer (DTC) enterprise brands that use the marketplace, must respond to buyer messages within 24 hours to maintain Amazon’s customer service guarantee.
Customer service response times impact your Amazon customer metrics and ultimately your chances of winning the Amazon Buy Box and maximizing sales revenue. This year will be particularly challenging for sellers with supply chain issues and consumer behavior that no longer “forgives” brands for COVID-related delays.
Here’s what you need to know about important Amazon performance targets for sellers and how you can reduce customer service email response times.
What are Amazon’s response time SLAs?
All sellers are expected to adhere to Amazon’s Selling Policies and Seller Code of Conduct. Amazon’s response time SLA for all products is to respond to buyer messages within 24 hours, including weekends and holidays. Auto-responders are not considered a valid response.
Seller offenses and prohibited content can result in the suspension of an Amazon account or, worse, account deactivation.
The NOW customer wants answers
Amazon’s retail success results from superior customer experience, service processes, and innovative problem solving. Amazon Prime is an excellent example of an industry-first solution that completely changed customer expectations for ecommerce.
Today’s consumers, who we call NOW customers, were influenced by the explosion of on-demand technology and the high standards set by companies like Amazon. NOW Customers expect rapid-fire responses to customer service questions, empathetic and personalized engagement, as well as On-demand access. Through our research, we’ve learned that the NOW customer wants answers, and they want a response in less than 24 hours.
Response Time’s impact on Seller Ratings
To ensure a positive customer experience, Amazon has customer metrics with target scores for sellers. The customer metrics serve as quality control to ensure that all sellers meet the high expectations of NOW customers. The best Amazon sellers not only meet these target goals, but they exceed them.
Amazon’s customer metrics, including Order Defect Rate (ODR), Cancellation Rate, Late Shipment Rate, Policy Violations, and Contact Response Time, contribute to your overall seller rating. The seller rating is decided by Amazon’s software measuring your customer metrics along with seller feedback, and is scored out of 100.
A good seller rating above 90 increases your product’s chances of winning the coveted Amazon Buy Box placement. Contact response time is one of the most controlled and important metrics businesses should optimize. Another reason is slow response times can result in negative buyer feedback, returns, and Amazon A-to-z guarantee claims, which will affect your seller rating.
What is Amazon’s Customer Service Rating?
Another important Amazon customer metric is the Customer Service Rating. A seller’s Customer Service Rating represents average customer satisfaction with your responses to their inquiries. Amazon gathers Buyer feedback on your responses through a survey asking, “Did this solve your problem?”
The Customer Service Rating includes feedback for all orders, whether a seller fulfills them directly or through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). According to Amazon, customer questions on non-fulfillment related questions account for 71% of customer inquiries. Additionally, customer feedback on pre-order and post-order product and fulfillment questions is included in the customer service rating for all orders.
If your customer service email response time negatively affects your overall seller performance, the following suggestions may help ensure that you respond to buyer messages within 24 hours.
Tips for responding in under 24 hours
The struggle to consistently meet Amazon’s response time target is real even for the big brands. In fact, our most recent study of nearly 1,500 ecommerce brands found that 24% of brands cannot currently respond to a customer service email ticket in under 24 hours.
Here are some ways the best sellers on Amazon master their mailbox more efficiently:
1. Be super transparent with your customers. Our stats show the NOW customer loves authentic interactions as much as they love speed. Post information about shipping delays and other issues that may impact product delivery and inventory on your website homepage, product web page, AWS profile, and other digital channels. Marketing will help develop the right message to deliver, and your customers will appreciate the honesty. Remember that customers compare all of their customer support interactions against each other. You don’t want to be the one found lacking.
2. Use live chat to answer customer questions immediately on your own site. Free up your resources, and avoid backlogs by implementing live chat. With a 24/7 live chat equipped with a human agent, a human-backed WISMO (“Where Is My Order?”) bot, or intelligent agent, customers can get their answers quickly without filling your inbox. Reallocate your customer support resources where they are necessary to increase your response time performance indicators.
3. Categorize message types and develop templates. Customer support teams typically manage multiple channels. To optimize responsiveness, audit all customer support inquiries on a scheduled cadence, create categories for message types and develop an email template library for common replies to customers. Be sure to include areas for personalization in the communication and leverage learnings in the FAQ. Your customer service experts can come up with their own messages on the fly, but it is tedious and will take away from their efficiency and effectiveness.
4. Share access to data and benchmarks for success. Being transparent with your team is also important. Establish key performance indicators, such as buyer-seller contact response time, necessary for a simplified dashboard. Share actionable insights and learnings with leadership, marketing, customer experience, and technical support. Use the dashboard to increase your team’s knowledge base and celebrate improvement.
5. Anticipate online shopping peaks and staff for them. It’s not easy to forecast how much customer service support is needed during high-volume seasons. But not being prepared = missed revenue. Last holiday season, we found the brands that took longer than 24 hours to respond to customer service emails were potentially missing out on up to $2 million per day! If needed, it’s possible to tap into on-demand staffing solutions like Simplr to add nearly instant “human power” to your customer support team when you need it.
Win over the NOW customer, even on Amazon
In an environment of demanding and evolving customer needs, setting goals for improving customer service quality and customer satisfaction is mission-critical. Not meeting customer expectations results in lost revenue opportunities and even a few negative reviews can damage a brand’s reputation quickly.
Reducing customer service email response times across all digital channels, not just Amazon, can improve product sales, long-term loyalty, and customer satisfaction metrics. In closing, be prepared for an unpredictable year. Equipping your business with a Human Cloud Network like Simplr‘s to answer every email within 24 hours is also a good idea to maximize every opportunity to increase revenue.