Context Switching: Why Manual Feedback Management is Not Agile

by Colleen Quattlebaum

"Agile" is the new buzzword for many eCommerce merchants.

Evidence of this trend is popping up almost everywhere you look on the Amazon marketplace. For example, sellers are increasingly using agile methodologies to launch private label listings, build bundles and expand into international markets.

Although agile principles are becoming increasingly commonplace among Amazon third-party sellers, there's still one agile-killing habit that merchants need to break: context switching. This is particularly true when it comes to Amazon feedback management.

In this post, we'll discuss why manual feedback management is the quintessential example of context switching - and what to do about it.

Why Context Switching is Bad for Your Business

Before we explore why context switching is a bad habit, let's first get a common understanding of what it is. If you're a techie, you may be familiar with context switching from the perspective of CPU utilization and operating systems. Although interesting parallels may exist, this is not the type of context switching that I'm talking about. I'm referring to something we all do (myself included): multitasking.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "But Colleen, how can multitasking possibly be a bad habit? Being able to juggle a zillion things at once is a strength - right?" You do have a valid point. After all, the Buy Box price is constantly changing, and your product catalog isn't getting any smaller. Winning more orders inevitably leads to more customer emails, feedback solicitations, accounting conundrums and complex restocking decisions. No worries, you're a master at simplifying the complex.

But does jumping from one task to another actually deliver maximum value to your Amazon business? Agile gurus, such as our very own Ken Furlong, would challenge your multitasking tendencies. In fact, Ken recently said the following on this topic:

"Context switching causes you to get less done overall and, what you do get done, gets done more slowly and with less quality. You also fall into the trap of thinking the only way to solve a problem is to hire more people, which is enormously expensive. To add insult to injury, context switching tends to be addictive (literally)."

~Ken Furlong, Director of Product & Lean/Agile Coach

Sure, it might feel good to hammer out a dozen unrelated tasks in 15 minutes. Problem is, you're destined to make more mistakes and wind up feeling frazzled by day's end.

Manually Requesting Feedback is the Ultimate Context Switch

Let's look at the perfect example of context switching: manual feedback solicitation.

You know that your Amazon business needs more feedback. You also know that most customers will never leave feedback - unless you specifically ask them to. For the last few months, your goal has been to send at least ten feedback requests each day. Unfortunately, your calendar is already packed solid with more important tasks, such as working with vendors, preparing FBA shipments and processing time-sensitive returns. With so much else going on, you're lucky to squeeze in a few solicitations while listening to your favorite podcast at lunchtime.

What's wrong with this picture? Several things.

First, you're just asking for an embarrassing customer interaction. Part of your brain is trying to concentrate on the podcast; the other part is composing an email. It's easy to get your wires crossed and make a costly mistake. Sending an email to the wrong shopper or soliciting someone who has already left feedback are common examples.

Second, the fact that you're "squeezing" solicitation into your day isn't ideal from an ROI standpoint. Your time is valuable, and cavalierly sending feedback requests rarely results in a good use of your time. Delivery time matters when it comes to increasing feedback conversions - sadly, you're just too busy to do any multivariate testing.

Finally, from purely a practical standpoint, you should take a few moments and enjoy your lunch break. Cramming another administrative task into your day is a surefire way to get a headache, indigestion or both!

FeedbackFive Can Make You More Agile

Is it really possible for Amazon merchants to cut down on context switching? If so, how? Of course, you can't drop everything right now and only focus on one priority for the rest of today. However, I would challenge you to seek ways to mitigate multitasking in your life.

Luckily, our team at eComEngine offers a way to remove the feedback craziness from your busy day. Our FeedbackFive tool, trusted by merchants to request over 40 million positive Amazon feedbacks, automates every aspect of your reputation workflow. FeedbackFive queues up and sends emails on your behalf - with no effort on your part. Use our beautifully designed templates and logic-based triggers to build campaigns that help convert orders into feedback.

No more squeezing in a batch of unsuccessful feedback solicitations between bites of your PB&J. Put your feedback solicitation and reporting on autopilot with FeedbackFive, and you'll have one less task to get to each day.

Ready to try FeedbackFive? Sign up for a free trial today for a more agile Amazon business model.

Originally published on October 5, 2017, updated June 14, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.