Good Customer Service- what a novel idea!

Today’s story is a tale of good service—in Chile no less!

Let’s face it, Chile is not known for good customer service. Oh, the stories I could tell—that we ALL could tell—about experiences ranging from frustrating to nightmarish… (For example, Lydia’s experience yesterday). Forget anything you ever heard about the customer always being right, in Chile, the customer—more often than not—is irrelevant.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I want to report a happy experience!

I had booked a flight with Lan Chile on-line and realized a few days later that I had a problem with it. I returned to the website, couldn’t remember my password, went through the normal steps to find the clave olvidada—no luck—it was registered under some long-forgotten email address, and finally I realized with a sinking feeling that I was going to have to speak to a human…
Knot in stomach begins here…

Have you noticed that most websites make it difficult to find a telephone number these days? Recent attempts to make human contact at Entel (a communications company no less) proved laborious (and in the end futile, because the person who finally answered could tell me no more than to come in and take a number), so I really dreaded having to try and go through all this with Lan Chile on a Saturday morning. I was sure that (1) I would never find a number, and that (2) if I did they would put me on hold for hours, and (3) when someone finally did pick up the phone they would tell me that they only provide information every other Thursday between 12:00 and 12:01.

I’m happy to report that this was not the case at all!

First, the telephone number is on the top right-hand side of the Lan Chile website! How logical! How helpful! Why should this be such a novel idea?

I called, and amazingly enough, an incredibly helpful man named Cristián picked up on the first ring, listened patiently to my drawn out story of woe and confusion, and then walked me through every step to correct my email and password situation, update my account information, give me the flight reservation number, show me where to download my itinerary, confirm that yes, I did in fact have frequent flyer kilometers accumulated, and answer every little question in between, and all with a calm, pleasant, and reassuring manner!

In a country known for placing insurmountable roadblocks between customer and service, where the company representatives who attend the public are often  indifferent, snide, and/or ignorant of the service they are supposed to offer, and then treat you as stupid to boot, or—going to the opposite extreme— are annoyingly ingratiating, it was just such a relief to get through a potentially stress-provoking situation and walk away calm and relieved with the problem resolved in less than 15 minutes with just 1 person and 1 phone call!

Kudos to Lan Chile and many thanks to service rep Cristián.

9 responses to “Good Customer Service- what a novel idea!

  1. glad you had a good experience. I’ve had good experiences with LAN as well, especially in comparison to their countrymen, such as the dreaded Telefónica.

    What is it with people named Christián? good folks I guess.

  2. You’re right, I DO tend to have good luck with guys named Cristián!

    Telefónica, I believe, is Spanish. LAN (Línea Aerea Nacional) is Chilean, although it now has lines with other countries and many of its flights are operated through the Spanish airline Iberia.

  3. Lan is pretty decent until they lose your bag, lie through their teeth for 4 days about where it is and what needs to be done to get it back, make you wait in your house from 7am to 12pm, stress you out so much your girlfriend’s parents (who you are meeting for the very first time) believe you are mentally deranged and then force you drive to Vina from Valparaiso at 6pm on new year’s eve to pick up the bag yourself.

    And then, as compensation, give you us$100 as a travel voucher which is only redeemable in a Lan office where they charge you a us$30 surcharge to buy a ticket.

  4. Uggh! Nightmare! I’m crossing my fingers that it ain’t so! But you’re not the first British Matt to tell me such things!

  5. That’s great! I’ve always been happy with the service I got with LAN.

    I’m still laughing @
    “(1) I would never find a number, and that (2) if I did they would put me on hold for hours, and (3) when someone finally did pick up the phone they would tell me that they only provide information every other Thursday between 12:00 and 12:01”

    That’s choice!

  6. I tried looking for a number for El Mercurio today… think I could find ANY contact info on their web site? (nope- zip!), although it IS on the front page of the paper itself.
    Why don’t companies get it that we look on their sites to figure out how to CONTACT them!

  7. That’s interesting. I don’t consider that “good” customer service. I consider that as someone doing their job which is also refreshing sometimes I guess. Good customer service to me would be for them to be willing to work with me to provide me with the best alternative flight when they changed the flight time and didn’t notify me which messed up my entire day of traveling. Good customer service would be offering a discounted rate on flights due to family emergencies/deaths in families when you have to get home quickly or even if they can’t do that not charging a change fee to move the flight one day earlier when someone’s mother dies. Based on all my experiences with LAN they are not customer centric at all and that is why I will only fly Delta from now on 🙂 It’s also the gringa in me coming out where I expect this because I get it here.

  8. I guess it’s a case of just being thankful that someone actually DOES do their job as expected… unfortunately it is rarer than it should be.
    After all that experience, it turned out that the flight was actually operated by Iberia… which is another story all together… the service wasn’t bad-bad… but far from flying friendly skies…
    I usually fly Delta too when I go to the States, but from here to Europe on Delta means flying through Atlanta with long layovers both there and in JFK… been there, done that, no thanks!

  9. Pingback: WordPress Gets Customer Service Points | Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

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