Alaska Airlines Adds Chat Service to Web Site

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Alaska Airlines' online customers got a new way to contact a sales agent without picking up a phone this week when the company added an Internet chat feature to its Web site.


Visitors to alaskaair.com and horizonair.com, the Web site of Alaska Airlines' sister airline, can click a button to gain access to a customer service representative while booking a flight online. The representative can communicate with the consumer through a pop-up instant messaging box.


The service, provided by FaceTime Communications, Foster City, CA, went live Monday.


Using instant messaging for customer service provides immediate replies to consumer inquiries not possible with online self-help and e-mail, said Glen Vondrick, CEO of FaceTime. It also lets the consumer receive help without having to go offline to dial a toll-free number.


"There's plenty of other industries that offer this," Vondrick said. "I think it's a no-brainer for anybody with a customer-facing Web application."


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