Name the Bot: Best Practices While Choosing Your Bot’s Identity

Think back to your time as a kid. Everything you had an attachment to probably had a name, from your toys to, perhaps, your cycle. Research shows that there is great power in naming things.  When an object is given a name, it creates an emotional connection. That is why in the world of technology and artificial intelligence, chatbots and virtual assistants are being given friendly and relatable names. 

Names also impact consumer choices. For instance, one study about the names of brands found that respondents were more likely to pick a brand that started with alphabets present in their names over other brands. Chatbots are usually the first level of contact when it comes to a company’s virtual interaction with a customer. How they are perceived is critical in the way a customer will eventually view and interact with your business. Imagine if Siri had been called Apple Bot 2011. Or Amazon’s Alexa had been called Amazon Assistant. Would people have related to these artificial intelligence bots the same way they do now? 

Why Name Your Bot?

Chatbots and AI assistants are different from human agents. Their role in an organization differs, and all said and done, they are bots! So, why do they need a name? Here are four reasons to consider naming your chatbot:

1. Names Humanize Bot

Tech teams around the world are working really hard to make chatbots and virtual assistants mimic human conversations as closely as possible. Artificial intelligence has made this possible: some people are calling bots model students because of the rate at which they are evolving. When they’re taking on so many human characteristics, it only seems fair to assign chatbots human names. It will make them more real and human-like to consumers who interact with them.

2. A Bot Name Can Create a Bond

The practice of naming transcends geographies, cultures and time. As far as history dates back, humans have named everything, from mountains to other fellow humans. A name creates an emotional bond by establishing identity and powerful associations in the mind. This is why people who raise animals for food rarely name them. Since chatbots have one-on-one conversations with your customers, giving them a name will help drive an instant connection. 

3. People Relate Names to Product Attributes 

In research conducted by Wänke, Herrmann, & Schaffner in 2007, people associated a product’s attributes to qualities of its name. Giving a product a name that sounds caring, beautiful yet bold can help create the same impression of the product in customers’ minds. The same thing applies to your chatbot. When you give your chatbot a name, it sets the tone for the kind of customer service you will provide. A chatbot that begins messaging customers without a name (or) with a robotic name can seem impersonal.  

4. Human Names Can Make Bot Communication More Natural

Addressing a bot with a name not only humanizes the bot and helps create a powerful bond, but it can also make conversations simpler. Using a name in conversation feels more natural and can make the customer take the bot more seriously. Think about it: who would you be more comfortable talking to, Siri or Apple Bot 2011?

The Five Steps to Naming Your Bot

Now that you know the kinds of bots there are out there and why a bot name can be useful, it’s time to get down to business. Naming your chatbot doesn’t have to be a complicated process. While there are many chatbot name generators out there that can help, picking a name yourself will give you more autonomy to fit it into your company’s persona and customer profile. 

1. Identify Your Bot’s Function

The first step to naming your bot is to identify the function it will perform in your business. Is it a chatbot meant purely to boost proactive customer engagement or will it provide support functions? An engagement bot can have an easy ring to its name while a customer support bot can be named in line with your product offerings. You could choose to name your bot after your brand, but a unique name will help establish a unique connection with customers.

2. Give Your Bot a Personality 

Giving your chatbot a personality will help it develop a distinct identity. For instance, an Amdocs study found that 36% of customers prefer female bots. Assigning a personality to your bots, from gender to tone and avatar, can not only make them more interesting but also help create a specific brand image. 

3. Choose Between Robot or Human 

It isn’t necessary to give your chatbot a human name. Sometimes, giving your bot a distinct robot name can remove any ambiguity about who the customer is chatting with. If you want your customers to identify that they are chatting with artificial intelligence, then you can opt for a robot-sounding name, like Alpha or D4QP. If you’re going for a more human and empathetic-sounding bot, then a human name would be the better choice. 

4. Create a Shortlist 

You only get one shot at naming your bot. Having options is always a good idea. You can compare names and even conduct market research to see what names customers respond to. Whether it comes from an agency, your team or from an online chatbot name generator, create a shortlist to weigh your options before finalizing the name. 

5. Script a Story

Once you’ve decided on your bot’s personality and come up with a shortlist of names, really think about how it fits into your business narrative. Streamline the final chatbot creation process by giving your chatbot a compelling backstory so it becomes easier to script conversations. 

Handy Tips for the Naming Process

  • Keep it Simple: Choose a simple, easy-to-remember name. In an attempt to sound unique, if your bot has a difficult name, your customer may find it difficult to remember it.
  • Be Witty: When your name is funny, punny or employs smart tricks like alliteration (Think Freshworks Freddy), it will make it easier for your customer to recollect the name.
  • Avoid Obvious Names: Don’t go with for example, FitNess for a fitness or health bot. It’s too obvious and uncreative. Put in more thought to come up with a unique name like Cratos, after the Greek God of strength.
  • Ditch Boastfulness: While it’s important to be smart about the name, don’t err on the side of over-smartness. Using a praise word or a loaded name is more likely to create a negative rather than a positive impression about your bot, and eventually your brand. For example, calling your bot the “Perfectron” might not be ideal because bots aren’t perfect.
  • Don’t Describe: Steer clear of long descriptions to accompany the name. Your chatbot doesn’t need a tagline disguised as a name.

The Final Word

Choosing the right name for your chatbot is important. However, in a bid to find the perfect name, don’t compromise on your chatbot’s functionality. Ensure your bot actually works and fulfills the role it is being created for. Freshworks can help you create the perfect, intentional, and intelligent chatbot for all your business needs, be it sales, marketing, or customer support. Get started here


Illustration by Banu Priya.