How to maintain a healthy Amazon account

By Sharon Fussell, May 8, 2013

Customer ServiceThis week I want to talk to you about that old favourite topic of Amazon sellers everywhere: good customer service and how Amazon view you in regard to this.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but you should be receiving a weekly matrix bulletin via email from Amazon. If not, you can access this information in your seller’s account through a link to a document called ‘metrics summary’.

You may have wondered what exactly this particular report is. It’s basically a criterion that Amazon have devised to ensure that your customer service and performance levels on Amazon meet a certain level.

It reads:

Dear Merchant,

Welcome to the Customer Experience newsletter. This document gives you improved insight into how you’re doing with respect to customer satisfaction.

The following sections describe historical performance against four key criteria.

It then lists the four key criteria:

A. Order defect rate (ODR): The percentage of orders that have received a negative feedback, an A-to-Z Guarantee claim or a service credit card chargeback. It allows us to measure overall performance with a single metric.

B. Pre-fulfilment Cancellations: This is a great way to measure your in-stock rate for items sold with

C. Missed Promise: On-time shipment is a promise we make to our mutual customers. Missed promise measures your success relative to customer expectations. Orders ship-confirmed three or more days late are considered to have missed promise.

D. Percentage of orders refunded: High refund rates may be an indicator of item stock-outs.

To get to your report, go to your seller’s account and under the section called ‘Performance’ choose ‘Account Health’.
Performance Targets

According to Amazon, all sellers should be working towards achieving and maintaining a level of customer service that meets the following performance targets.

Failure to meet these targets does not necessarily put your seller account in negative standing, but failure to improve may negatively affect your account.

  • Order defect rate: < 1%
  • Pre-fulfilment cancel rate: < 2.5%
  • Late shipment rate: < 4%

These are baseline goals. Sellers with exemplary performance have the opportunity to distinguish themselves to buyers through the feedback rating that appears next to each of their listings. Most sellers are exceeding these targets, so the better your performance, the better your chance of building a stronger, more competitive business.

Amazon state you should monitor your customer metrics closely on a regular basis. This is because the report informs you of the following:

  • Your Customer Metrics indicate how you are doing with respect to customer satisfaction. Monitor your metrics frequently so you can spot and resolve operational problems promptly. Excessive order defect rates (negative feedback, A-to-Z Guarantee claims and chargeback) can cause account suspensions and even account closures.
  • Check your feedback and A-to-Z Guarantee claim pages daily, and proactively resolve any issues.

When you click on your metrics report you will see a score card which is intended to give you a summary of your customer service performance. You will be rated as ‘good’, ‘fair’ or ‘poor’.

According to Amazon, these ratings show the following:

I see a (good) on my scorecard. What does that mean?

This means that your performance is meeting Amazon’s target for that metric. If you have a green check-mark in the notifications column, this means that you have no unread policy or performance notices on the notification page at that time.

I see a (fair) on my scorecard. What does that mean?

This means that your performance does not currently meet Amazon’s target for that metric. You should take steps immediately to improve your performance in this area. Performance at this level will not generally result in the suspension of your selling account, provided you are actively working to improve your customer satisfaction.

If you have a yellow exclamation point in the notifications column, you have unread notices awaiting your acknowledgement and should visit the notifications page to read these e-mails.

I see a (poor) on my scorecard. What does that mean?

This means that your performance does not meet Amazon’s target for that metric and continued performance at this level may result in the suspension of your selling account. Sellers with poor performance should identify the source of the problems and take corrective action as soon as possible.

If you have a red X in the notifications column, you have unread notices critical to your account that are awaiting your acknowledgement. To avoid further action against your account, you should visit the notifications page to read these e-mails immediately.

So what will happen if you fail to meet Amazon’s performance expectations?

Here are some questions and answers regarding the metrics summary:

What happens if I am not meeting one of the performance targets? How concerned should I be?

Order defect rate is the key measure of a seller’s ability to provide customer satisfaction. If you’re not meeting our target for order defect rate and do not improve, your account may be suspended and our Seller Performance team may ask you to provide a detailed “plan of action” in which you explain the source of the problem and how you have corrected it.

In short, if you are not meeting one of the performance targets, don’t panic. Many problems are short-term and easily corrected. We want to work with you in creating a successful business. However, we strongly value the buyer’s customer experience and it’s important to take the Amazon performance targets seriously’

My percentage is over the published performance target for that metric, but it’s not flagged with a red “X” or a yellow exclamation point. Why is that?

It’s probably because you have a relatively small number of orders. Our algorithms take order volume into account in order to intelligently adjust your performance scores.

For example, if you have ten orders and one of them has a defect, your order defect rate will be 10%. While that is technically over our target percentage, it does not necessarily reflect an actual problem with your performance.

I see a red “X” or yellow exclamation point for my order defect rate, but both my short-term and long-term order defect rate percentages look fine.

This means that we’ve detected a significant spike in your order defects. If we see a spike in order defects, we want to notify you about it as soon as possible, even if they’re in the short-term time range. This way you can review your recent negative feedback, A-to-Z claims, and charge backs and address any problems before they bring your defect rate down. We expect to provide expanded tools that will point directly to the defects in question in the future.

I have a very small number of orders and this makes the defect percentage seem higher than it is (for example: 1 defect in 10 orders = 10%). Do you account for that?

We understand that everyone can have a problem with an order from time to time. Therefore, our internal systems take your overall order volume into account when scoring. Sellers with very low order volume may show percentages that are significantly above our stated target and still be viewed as meeting our performance targets.

How can I see which orders are the problem?

Orders with a defect have a negative feedback, A-to-Z Guarantee claim, or service chargeback associated to them.

What is the Notifications page?

This page contains a record of all key e-mails sent to you by the Seller Performance team . This includes warnings for performance or seller policy violations, as well as notices of account block or suspension. The communications on this page are copies of the notices we send to you via e-mail. It is important that you read all the notices copied to the Notifications page.

Now that these notifications are available on the website, will you continue send them via e-mail?

Yes. We will continue communicate about performance issues via e-mail. The Notifications page serves as a duplicate and permanent record of these communications.

I see an e-mail on the Notifications page that I never received in my e-mail. Why?

  • It is possible that the e-mail did not successfully reach your mailbox. E-mail is not a guaranteed method of delivery, which is one of the reasons we are providing this Web-based view of important communications. There are various reasons why you may not have received an e-mail; for example:
  • The e-mail was caught in your program’s spam filter. You should confirm this and set up your mail client to allow e-mail from Amazon.
  • The e-mail was lost en-route to your mailbox.
  • Your notification address is for an old account you no longer check. Please visit the Notification Preferences page of your Seller Account to ensure that your current e-mail address is on file with us.
  • If the notification was sent recently, it may still be en-route to your mailbox. We post communications to the Notification page in Seller Central as soon as they are sent. As e-mail sometimes takes time to reach your mailbox, the notification may still arrive.

How can I contact Seller Performance about one of these e-mails?

After reading a message, click “Reply” at the bottom of the window. A text box will appear in which you can write your response. When you’re ready, click “Send” Your message will go directly to the Seller Performance team.

So take a look at your metrics summary now by logging into your seller’s account.

And whilst you’re there, take note of Amazons ‘new’ selling coach banner at the top of your seller account page. You never know, it may well provide a selling tool to improve your business with some great tips.


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