5 Steps to a Catchy Bot Name
The birth of your chatbot opens new opportunities, but it needs the right alias. One that says “I’m helpful but not annoying.”
They may not be on the payroll, but chatbots fulfill job duties on a daily basis. Sometimes they’re even the first team member to greet your customers and offer help. So you don’t want to put your customer experience at a disadvantage by naming your bot something cold and generic like “Helper Bot.” It’s like calling your human support team member “Service Agent 1.”
A clever, memorable bot name will help make your customer service team more approachable. Finding the right name is easier said than done, but I’ve compiled some useful steps you can take to make the process a little easier.
- Decide on your chatbot’s role
- Create a personality for your bot
- Choose if you want a human name or a robot name
- Consider if the name should be gendered
- Make sure your chatbot actually works
- Creative bot names aren’t worth losing sleep over
Decide on your chatbot’s role
Chatbots are a tool, first and foremost. Their mission is to get the customer from point A to B, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it in style. A defined role will help you visualize your bot and give it an appropriate name.
Some chatbots are conversational virtual assistants while others automate routine processes. Your chatbot may answer simple customer questions, forward live chat requests or assist customers in your company’s app.
Once you’ve outlined your bot’s function and capabilities, consider your business, brand and customers. Ideally, your chatbot should be an extension of your company.
In retail, a customer may feel comfortable receiving help from a cute chatbot that makes a joke here and there. If the chatbot is a personal assistant in a banking app, a customer may prefer talking to a bot that sounds professional and competent.
This is all theory, which is why it’s important to first understand your bot's purpose and role before deciding to name and design your bot. Those fun details come later.
And don’t sweat coming up with the perfect creative name — just giving your chatbot a name will help customers trust it more and establish an emotional connection . You’re on the right path.
Create a personality for your bot
It’s in our nature to attribute human characteristics to non-living objects. Customers will automatically assign a chatbot a personality if you don’t. If you want your bot to represent a certain role, I recommend taking control.
Personality also makes a bot more engaging and pleasant to speak to. Without a personality, your chatbot could be forgettable, boring or easy to ignore.
Once you’ve decided on your bot’s personality and role, develop its tone and speech. Writing your conversational UI script is like writing a play or choose-your-own-adventure story. Experiment by creating a simple but interesting backstory for your bot. This is how screenwriters find the voice for their movie characters and it could help you find your bot’s voice.
For example, let’s say you own a fishing supplies business and have a bot that assists with recommending products to customers. Here are some chatbot names to avoid:
- Obvious: Supply Finder Bot
- Descriptive: Find Fishing Supplies Bot
- Boring: Fishing Bot or Fishy the Bot
Here’s an idea that could work:
“Roe-bot” (“roe” is a mass of fish eggs)
Roe, as I would like to call it, is a friendly trout that lives in Lake Erie. Roe’s job is to greet customers and offer to help them look for specific fishing supplies.
I should probably ease up on the puns, but since Roe’s name is a pun itself, I ran with the idea. Remember that wordplays aren’t necessary for a supreme bot name. Not every business can take such a silly approach and not every type of customer gets the self-irony. A bank or real estate chatbot may need to adopt a more professional, serious tone.
Check out our post on how to find the right chatbot persona for your brand for help designing your chatbot’s character.
Choose if you want a human name or a robot name
iRobot, the company that creates the Roomba robotic vacuum, conducted a survey of the names their customers gave their robot. Out of the ten most popular, eight of them are human names such as Rosie, Alfred, Hazel and Ruby.
Giving your chatbot a simple human name that’s easy to pronounce is a safe choice since users may find it familiar and comfortable. According to Adam Alter, a psychologist at New York University, “When we can process a piece of information more easily, when it's easier to comprehend, we come to like it more.”
However, we’re not suggesting you try to trick your customers into believing that they’re speaking with an actual human. First, because you’ll fail, and second, because even if you’d succeed, it would just spook them.
You’ll put your customers’ trust at risk if you try to fool them. You can still pretend your chatbot is a hot real estate agent and name it Armando, but consider these tips when designing a “human” bot:
- Have the chatbot introduce itself as a bot in its greeting
- Use an illustration as its profile image instead of a real photo
- Incorporate button and carousel options into the chat to emphasize that the conversation is automated
- Have your chatbot offer to forward chats and contact info to agents to make a clear distinction between the two
When choosing a human name, we recommend picking something simple, warm and competent.
Human bot name ideas:
Ann, Dan, Lizzie, Emma, James, Jenn, John, Julie, Mark, Matt, Nick, Noah, Olivia, Sarah, Sophia, Tom
Note: These names are English-specific and may not be suitable for your audience. They are purely an example of what types of names people in that target demographic find simple. Appropriate names will vary depending on your region, language and target customers.
Robot names also have their own advantages. It allows you to make a clear distinction between robot support and human support, which is important to users:
They also give you more creative freedom. Experiment with acronyms and abstract concepts, such as H.E.R.B.I.E. ("Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics") from the comic “Fantastic Four” or programming languages like Oz, Jade, Ada, Lily or Pascal. These have a robot vibe without being too obvious.
Cool robot name ideas:
Tech, Link, Data, Giga, Byte, Bit, Pixel, Macro, Meta, Swipe, Tag, Chip, Cookie
For successful examples of robot names in real life and media, check out Paste Magazine’s list of the 40 Best Robots of All Time.
Consider if the name should be gendered
Do you think your chatbot should have a gender? If yes, which one and why?
A female name seems like the most obvious choice considering how popular they are among current chatbots and voice assistants. Naming robots after women is not a new phenomenon however; the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory created a language processing computer program called Eliza back in 1966, and many others soon followed.
A global study commissioned by Amdocs found that 36% of consumers preferred a female chatbot over a male (14%). Sounding polite, caring and intelligent also ranked high as desired personality traits.
Assigning a female gender identity to AI may seem like a logical choice when choosing names, but your business risks promoting gender bias.
Gendering artificial intelligence makes it easier for us to relate to them, but has the unfortunate consequence of reinforcing gender stereotypes.Veronica Belmont for Chatbots Magazine
The smartest bet is to give your chatbot a neutral name devoid of any controversy. Cute or clever names such as “Swelly,” a polling chatbot depicted by a whale, and “Woebot,” a therapy bot that helps with depression and tracking your mood, show that you can give your chatbot a creative non-human-non-robot name that is catchy and to the point.
Cute bot names:
Boo, Pep, Flip, Coco, Sprout, Mochi, Fig, Dot, Taz, Sunny, Mizu, Bloom
Make sure your chatbot actually works
That’s right, a catchy name doesn’t mean a thing if your chatbot stinks.
Since chatbots are not fully autonomous, they can become a liability if they lack the appropriate data. If a customer becomes frustrated by your bot’s automated responses, they may view your company as incompetent and apathetic. Not even “Roe” could pull that fish back on board with its cheeky puns.
Of course you can never be 100% sure that your chatbot will understand every request, which is why we recommend having live chat. As opposed to independent chatbot options, bots connected to your live chat solution can forward chats to your agents when they run into trouble or at the customer’s request.
At Userlike, we offer a Logic Bot that is connected to our live chat solution so you can monitor your chatbot’s performance directly in your Dashboard. This helps you keep a close eye on your chatbot and make changes where necessary — there are enough digital assistants out there giving bots a bad name.
Creative bot names aren’t worth losing sleep over
Finding the appropriate bot name is the fun part. For all the other creative and not-so-creative chatbot development stuff, we’ve created a guide to chatbots in business to help you at every stage of the process.
At Userlike, we are one of few customer messaging providers that offer AI automation features embedded in our product.
Our AI Automation Hub provides a central knowledge base combined with AI features, such as an AI chatbot, Smart FAQ and Contact form suggestions.
The best part - it doesn’t require a developer or IT experience to set it up. This means you can focus on all the fun parts of creating a chatbot like its name and persona.
Click here to learn more about our AI features and get started on the path to automation. 🤖