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Sometimes I think that my fixation with customer service came from my marketing background; however, more and more, I realize its importance to everyone, especially first-time online buyers.

The ability to contact a customer service agent has made me more confident in buying something online. The problem, though, is finding out how to reach these live gems.

Remember a while ago, I wrote about buying an airline ticket online for the first time.  Click here and open in a new tab if you want to read this posting again. What convinced me to buy an online ticket from AirFrance was both the positive experience of my daughters and the ability for me to talk with a real-live AirFrance customer agent.

The AirFrance website is a good airlines site.  In addition to selling you a ticket, it has lots of information that is relatively easy to find even if you are not so internet savvy.

This first page of airfrance.com is really a gateway to the world.  Click here. This is especially important because AirFrance customizes their service to each individual country.  Whether you live in the USA, France, Benin, Venezuela  or Pakistan, the AirFrance website offers you easy access to real live customer service, even though the airlines does not appear to offer real-time online chat.  Each country’s site follows the same pattern.

 

My AirFrance Online Real Live Customer Service Story

AirFrance  and KLM are partners. Therefore, my KLM frequent flier number should have worked in that grey FlyingBlue box on the upper left corner—right!!!.  But, after many tries — no go!

How will I ever be able to buy a ticket online, if I can’t even do this right? 

I went to my local site. Looked all over the site and finally found at the top line in sort of small letters Contact Us. I clicked.

My local office was closed for the day.  Oh, dear.  However, I was told to type in my question.

Help, please,  I have never bought an airline ticket online. I’m totally confused.  I couldn’t even get my frequent flier number to work.  My travel agent used to do everything for me.  Please call me…. I gave my telephone number.

The next morning a customer service agent called me.  She even spoke English.  Told me that my old number had expired. (It had been years since I used it.)  She said—-

First, I should  get a new number and told me exactly how to do it online.

Then, she gave me instruction on how to buy that ticket.

And, invited me to contact them again if I had any problems or questions. WOW

And that is exactly what I did.  Bought my ticket.  However, I discovered that, for one  leg of my trip, there was no place to reserve a seat.  And, just as upsetting, there was no place on the profile page of the frequent flyer to specify my special “mobility needs” and seat requirements.

I WAS IN A PANIC!!!

I had already bought my ticket.  I thought I had no way to let AirFrance know about my critical (at least to me) mobility needs.  I had no travel agent to solve the problem.

Back to Contact Us.  This time I got a real person, who not only answered my questions but also passed me on to a supervisor who made sure that the information was in my file. He also told me to contact Flying Blue, AirFrance’s frequent flier program.  Here, too, I typed in my special request.

This is not the end of my story.  

One Saturday afternoon, I got a call from the most reassuring woman calling from Flying Blue. She wanted me to know that she had all my information and is making sure that it is part of my permanent file.  She called me!!!  Now that is impressive.

I haven’t traveled yet so I cannot tell you if all of this real live online customer service resulted in a flawless trip.  I’ll let you know.  In the meantime, I do feel more relaxed about having bought online without the service a traditional travel agent.

Real Live Online Customer Service Does Exist

I have learned that more and more online merchants and services, like AirFrance and Amazon, are providing opportunities for real live online customer support.  

You just have to look for the smaller print, most often on the top or on the sides. And be persistent.

 

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