Keeping AI Real: Find a Great Name for Your Chatbot

Keeping AI Real: Find a Great Name for Your Chatbot

You’ve got a great bot, but what are you going to call it? When it comes to personalization, does being a ‘him’ or ‘her’ matter, and what type of chatbot names work well for customers?

Computer programs have had names since the dawn of operating systems and compilers. But they had strange monikers like Quattro Pro, Quicken and Wampum, meaningless to anyone outside of their functions. As software became the useful commodity around which PC hardware and operating systems were sold, they got more marketable names like Excel, Notes and SharePoint, with the leading lights becoming verbs in their own right like Photoshop and, of course, Google.

Now, in the AI era we have all sorts of helpful tools including chatbots, digital concierge and virtual assistants. They are still programs and applications, but people need to relate to them for them to be successful. So, they have attractive names like Siri and Alexa for smart gadgets, while hotels, airports and airlines have warm and welcoming chatbot name examples like Rose and Gail.

Most are short and easy to remember, with a trend in feminine names, which we suspect is because most developers and marketers are male. But what would you call your bot? Do you need to think long and hard about it, or can you simply go for a chatbot/robot name generator?

Good names for your artificial intelligence

As has been pointed out, but we often need reminding, AI intelligence is nothing like that of humans, so getting too cuddly or anthropomorphic about your bot can be a problem. Also, funny bot names may raise a chuckle, but might fail the engagement test over the long term if people think of your bot as a joke.

Instead, having a quick plan or organizing your thoughts or team debate about your bot should generate some results that better fit the bot and your business. Consider the following issues when it comes to picking the best avatar name.

Why you should name your chatbot

Many businesses are building their own chatbot, giving them a greater interest in its name. If you get a developer to do it, there’s often a space on the planning form for “name” to fill in, leaving many in that state of panic when picking baby or pet names.

The name should represent the business, give customers or users something they can relate to, regardless of the bot’s function or how smart it is. Names and characters are proven to drive conversational commerce, which is why many bots have faces, and businesses are developing 3D avatars.

Describe what your chatbot does

While you can bet that that mega-corps spend hundreds of hours in coming up with their bot names, you need not be too over-focused. A little research can help you quickly come to a stylish or functional decision. Siri, for example, is not overtly traditional, not too-western (its a Scandinavian name, but has positive connotations in African and Asian languages).

Not every decision needs to be so micro-managed, Cortana was the name of an AI in the Halo games. The best way to think of a fresh name is to consider what the chatbot does for its users. Is it practical, what task does it perform, using these as the basis of the name helps build that relationship and familiarity with users.

You can also look across your market to see what the trend is. Banking chatbots tend to have traditional names like Ernest or Ally Assist, while health tends to go quirky or say-what-you see with Safedrugbot or Babylon.

Personalize your chatbot for better user engagement

A personalized and memorable name will help your bot stand out from the crowd, Along with the name, you can build up a personality for chatbots, there are a million ways to say hello and goodbye, so don’t be afraid to use them, rather than sticking to one salutation. Repeat the name in the conversations, as people will better remember it.

Similarly, different ways of saying the same thing make a bot appear less automated, which can be key for repeat engagements. If your bot is for a specific region, then don’t be afraid to use local names, terms or colloquialisms to make people feel welcome. That’s especially when it comes to dating chatbots or charity/non-profit engagement where you want people to “feel” more about what is being said. With that in mind, never stray into coarse or disparaging names.


Chris Knight

Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.
Parousia Khan January 25, 2020

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