So That's Julie - Got It!

Today, on one what is traditionally the busiest day of the year for Amtrak, thousands of passengers will call to make sure their train's on time and hear, "Hi, this is Amtrak. I'm Julie." The automated system at Amtrak has a name as well as a lively personality. If you're a regular, you know that she responds, "Got it!" to each request, and that she even apologizes, "I'm sorry, I didn't get that."

More companies are opting for a casual script when it comes to automated service. By handling routine questions, these computerized reps ease the load on flesh-and-blood reps. Julie's 5 million calls a year save the financially-beleaguered railroad about $13 million. And because the automated system seems less impersonal, the voice becomes memorable, another character that customers associate with the brand. I confess, since moving from Baltimore to Chicago this year, I kinda miss calling Julie.

As for the real Julie, she's Julie Stinneford, a voice professional in Boston, whose friends will ask her to recite Amtrak Julie's lines.

Which computerized personalities do you think are charming or annoying? Which help a brand and which hurt it?

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10 Comments

  • sabrina

    One more thing--I don not understand why some would consider "casual language" acceptable for a machine but not for a human. In a previous call center job, I was actually written up for saying "got it" after every sentence, just like "Julie" is praised for in your article.

  • sabrina

    I've heard "Julie" and I am NOT impressed! As far as I am concerned there is absolutely NO substitute for a live human on the job. It is time for corporate America to realize they are shooting themselves in the foot by 1) ignoring and/or devaluing the contributions of "first representatives" such as receptionists, information clerks and switchboard ops and 2) ignoring and devaluing the customers who call in and deserve far more respect than being "blown off" by a disembodied automated voice on the other end of the telephone!

  • n/a

    I've found Wells Fargo Card Services to have a particularly pleasant automated voice system. It gives polite and un-robotic responses like Julie of Amtrak and has proven quite memorable.

  • Heath Row

    We try to delete comment spam as it comes across, but given the recent holiday, I missed some. Thanks for your help, Not Disclosed!

  • not disclosed

    Can't FC initiate any action against the websites listed by the spammer? Maybe they could spk to the website owners or thier ISPs (neworldonline.com) - I think they would co-operate with FC for fear of getting bad press...

  • gautam g

    Pretty cool, thank for the post Mihai. Can't anything be done about this spammer?

  • Jaysen du Plessis

    I love technology and voice recognition services rock if you can get it right. Sadly though most software is a little inadequate and just causes huge frustration.

    I find call services that direct you to a human as quick as possible the best option although I was hugely impressed when I called my mobile service operator (Vodacom in South Africa, falling under the Vodafone group of mobile companies) when they had an automated voice (zero personality) but it was able to answer all my questions on a toll free line. Press 1 if you want to know your account balance, press 2 if you want to enquire when you are due for an upgrade. After selecting the option it would give you your person info. Super cool.

  • gautam g

    My mobile telecom provider has an automated voice system on thier premium-service hotline. This line is used to access various premium services like voice mail etc.. Now, customers get charged at a higher rate while the line is on.. so its really irritating to get an automated response. The voice drones on slowly - almost mockingly, even as it committs all sorts of blunders. Everytime it misunderstands you, it dumps you back to a main menu, leaving you to work your way up again.

    If a flesh-and-blood rep did this, he/she would be fired for sure. You can't even rebuke it for being stupid because its not a real person - just keeps on talking and mocking you in that polite artifical voice, and all the while you're getting billed at a premium rate.

    From what Chuck writes, I guess Amtrak has a better system, and its probably toll-free as well.

  • Earl

    AT&T wireless has an automated voice, too. I just keep pressing "0" until I get to a real person - no matter how real they sound, its still a disconnected, disembodied voice that links me to the bowels of a soul-less organization. Is anybody out there? Bueller? Bueller?