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?