Seller Performance Solutions
Account Health Services vs Seller Performance
March 4, 2021
In this episode, Leah and I cover the key differences between Amazon’s “Account Health Services” team and the “Seller Performance” team. They may sound like they’d cover the same ground, but if your account or listings get suspended, you quickly understand that they are far from the same thing. We dig into what these teams are there for, who staffs them, and how their work influences (and sometimes undermines) the reinstatement appeal process. We also cover how much you can trust the information they provide, and how to know if it’s accurate. We understand that many sellers want to talk about a dire situation like suspension on the phone, and that Amazon won’t always clarify your next steps. But understand the limits of each, as we explain here using specific examples from our work.
[00:00:07] Chris: Hi everybody, this is Chris McCabe. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. I'm here with Leah McHugh. So I'm a former Amazon employee. I help sellers with account suspensions, listing suspensions, among other things. And Leah is an ecommerce expert who works with sellers on listing compliance issues and policy enforcement matters. So welcome back. Today, we're talking about Account Health Services. This is a team that most sellers, I think know about now. They've been around for a year or two. We did have somebody in the Facebook group the other day - Amazon Sellers First Class - who said that they didn't think this team existed. So I guess the first question is: do people not know, in large numbers, do they not know that this team exists? Number one. Number two: do they know the difference between Account Health and Seller Performance?

[00:00:51] Leah: Well, I think in usual Amazon fashion, they don't consistently refer people to Account Health. So it used to be that you would pretty consistently see on a blocked listing or suspension notification, “If you have any questions you can contact, Account Health via this link.” We're not really seeing that so much anymore, and we actually often have to give people the link to contact Account Health because they didn't know about it.

[00:01:13] Chris: A lot of people don't have the link or they just ask us for the phone number. Account Health gives you a rep. You can call and speak to somebody. That's not a service or an option for Seller Performance. The teams I used to work on, right. There's no phone service, so they're kind of a go-between or an intermediary that helps you interpret Seller Performance to an extent or help interpret those vague, murky messages you get when they suspend your listing or deny your appeal for reinstatement. Or, of course, if your entire account is shut down. So I've sat in on many calls involving Account Health Services reps. So have you, Leah. And one thing we have found is that they can interact with Seller Performance on your behalf, but they can't make a decision or they don't have any authority to, like reinstate you, right?

[00:02:00] Leah: Yeah, and I think that's where sellers get confused when Account Health gives them their opinion on their appeal. It's just that. It's their opinion, and it doesn't really hold any water with Seller Performance. You can get lucky when you have a very experienced Account Health rep who can give you good advice. But we generally tell our clients not to call in so much for their opinion as for asking them for the annotations from Seller Performance that's on your account.

[00:02:27] Chris: Yeah, and unfortunately sometimes they direct the discussion towards “Let's talk about your plan of action, your PoA. I have my opinion. I have my thoughts. I've been trained on how to review a PoA.” The issue might not even be your PoA. It might be documentation that Amazon asked for that you submitted that wasn't acceptable. It could be supplier information, like they can't verify your supplier. Your supplier doesn't have a website. It could be a lot of other issues and the Account Health Services rep might not tell you that. They might not see in your account any annotations that indicate what went wrong, why your appeal was denied. So what do they fall back on? Well, they fall back on what they were trained to tell you, which is “I'm gonna look at your Plan of Action and tell you what I think.” That will vary widely between reps. Right?

[00:03:12] Leah: Some of them do have worthwhile opinions, but I've been on just way too many calls where Account Health reps have given just really bad advice,

[00:03:21] Chris: Generic advice or...

[00:03:23] Leah: Or just incorrect information like telling you that you need to include something that has absolutely nothing to do with the reason that you're suspended. They're just sort of giving you the rote answer that they give everybody. And we know that that is bad advice, because we're doing this over and over again every single day. But if you're a seller who's never experienced this before, you may not necessarily be able to differentiate between good advice from Account Health and bad advice from Account Health

[00:03:49] Chris: And Account Health reps tend in my experience, not always, but they tend to sound very authoritative and very confident, and “I can see what's going on with your account and why you're last two appeals were denied. Listen to me, I've got the answers,” and they might deliver those in very convincing fashion. The problem is, we have equally as many people, if not more, who come back saying “I did everything you told me to do. I revised this whole PoA. Maybe you even gave it to account Health to resubmit it to Seller Performance on your behalf, and it came back denied.” What is their explanation when that happens? They rarely have a good one. That's my problem with it. So.

[00:04:24] Leah: and much like Seller Support, if you talk to five different Account Health reps, you're probably going to get five different reasons. They aren't consistent in their advice at all.

[00:04:35] Chris: and they can't explain the denials. Sometimes they can't even explain why Performance denied it because there's maybe no annotations. There's no notes on the denial. You would think that if they put enough resources and time into developing this team. they’d at least be able to give you a comprehensible answer when you follow their directives and it fails, right? Then they kind of back away and they don't take ownership over the advice that they've - the suggestions they've given you. The difference with Support, I think is Support doesn't come across as so cocky, confident, authoritative on the advice, you know. Support kind of says, “Hey, this is what I know about it, which isn't a lot. Take it for what it's worth.” You know, I don't hear support reps giving you kind of the “This is gospel” delivery.

[00:05:18] Leah: That's true. I have actually had Account Health reps, when I questioned their advice, ask me why I even bothered calling in if I wasn't going to do what they said. So...

[00:05:26] Chris: which is like, they’re a resource and they’re a resource that you have to lean on sometimes because Performance won't talk to you. They'll send you - they’ll send you very generic, watered down, usually insignificant messaging back that doesn't indicate anything other than “we've said no” or “we have denied your appeal.” Well, usually your next step is to revise your appeal or to come back with something different than your last Plan of Action. How can you possibly do that with zero information? That's the key gap that Amazon hasn't really addressed yet. The next question, of course, is don't forget that Account Health reps put you on hold, right? They always say an average of 5 minutes, could be 10.

[00:06:03] Leah: Yeah, I've been hold, usually on about 10 minutes,

[00:06:06] Chris: 10 or 12 minutes. They're taking a lot of time to read through your PoA to look at your account annotation. Key message we want to communicate today is that Seller Performance investigators do not have anywhere near that amount of time. In theory, they do because they're supposed to do 14, 15, 16 investigations per hour. “IPH”, It's one of their main metrics. So in theory, they could spend half an hour on you if they need to. But then they have to do 13 others very quickly within that hour. So in theory and in practice, doesn't - you know?

[00:06:33] Leah: And I think Account Health forget that because I have been on multiple calls with them where they're like, “You should write a paragraph about this” and it's like, who is going to read that? No one is going to read that if you add additional paragraph about something.

[00:06:47] Chris: Sometimes I feel, Leah,  like we're training Account Health reps on how they need to be trained. And the reason is because sometimes they are telling people, “Yeah, you can submit a four pager.”

[00:06:55] Leah: Or I've been told to submit a flat file with the appeal. Nobody in Seller Performance is going to look at a flat file. And even if they did, I really doubt that they would know what they were looking at.

[00:07:05] Chris: The advice runs the gamut. There's a range. Like you said, There's some competent, well trained people all the way down a very green amateur type reps. The problem is, if your whole account is suspended, you can't afford to just play Russian roulette with that range of professional expertise and Seller Performance is kind of skimming it. They are reviewing it quickly, looking not necessarily for buzzwords. Keywords in your PoA. To an extent, mentally, I think they are doing that. But they're looking to grasp the key points and see if they can be convinced. See if they trust what's in there in terms of solutions or improvements. An Account Health Services rep has literally all day. I've been calls that were like 45 minutes.

[00:07:43] Leah: Yeah, they don't seem to have any sort of speed metric, Or at least they're not obvious about it If they do.

[00:07:48] Chris: Yeah. No, they're not - in general, I said they're not rushing you off the phone because that would be against their purpose for being, but at the same time is that extra 15, 20, 25 minutes actually worth your time?

[00:07:59] Leah: Well, in all fairness to Account Health, I think we're seeing more and more Seller Performance aren't annotating why they've rejected an appeal. They just say it's rejected and move on so a lot of the time, it is just that that information is not there for Account Health to refer to. So then they have to - they have to tell you something.

[00:08:17] Chris: Sometimes Seller Performance isn't annotating it all, it sounds like. And the reps - the reps will admit that. The reps you can almost tell with the timber in their voice that they're kind of like, “I went there. There's nothing there. I can't explain to you why that person couldn't even take two seconds to annotate.” Obviously there's no auditing of the quality of their work going on in the background.

[00:08:36] Leah: I will say the Account Health reps are sounding more and more jaded every time I call in. You hear audible sighs.

[00:08:43] Chris: Or they're just willing to admit, like this person didn't do their job and I've seen that too much today. And they see it every day. And then they're not going to tell you like,”Yeah, Seller performance is trending steeply downward. I'm sorry about that.” They might say that, but why should they be kind of pushed to the fore just to make excuses for another team? I mean, that's kind of professionally embarrassing. So key takeaways: Take what they tell you with a grain of salt. Make sure you double check it, maybe even called back, talk to a second rep. See if they - that's what they -  or a third to square it away and make sure it all is consistent. Otherwise, you can run it by us. We can kind of give you a quick sense of whether or not it sounds legit or it sounds like it's just made up sort of spinning your wheels type advice. You definitely don't want to get into the fiction of what this might be or assumptions or conjecture. You want them to give you fact based information and data as much as possible. And, of course, don't spend 45 minutes on a call with Account Health Services if you're not really getting that nuts and bolts type information out of it.

[00:09:43] Leah: Yeah, much like Seller Support, if you have somebody that doesn't really seem to know what's going on, hang up and try again with another one.

[00:09:49] Chris: Exactly. Exactly. And if you have any questions about the differences between these teams, whether it's AHS: Account Health services, Seller Performance: team I used to work on or even Seller Support, let us know. We're interested in answering your questions. And thanks again for joining us for another episode of Seller Performance Solutions.