How to name your chatbot for maximum business impact

Natalie Smithson
AI enthusiast | Tea addict | Focused on using AI assistants to win the working week
Team meeting

You can name your customer support chatbot whatever you like, so deciding how to name your chatbot can be a daunting task. We’ve seen AI assistants called everything from Shockwave to Suiii and Vic to Vee. So where do you start? To make choosing a name for your chatbot quick and painless, we share all the things you need to consider, what to avoid, and reveal the smart way to choose the right one.

Important things to know about chatbot names

You’re familiar with the power of a great name in the business world ― just look at the furore when a team on The Apprentice picks a wrong’n! Whether it’s a team, a project, a product, service, or the name of your business, what you call it matters. Here are some of the things you’ll need to think about before you start, so you can effortlessly make a good choice:

  1. Forming a bond
    Using a name prompts an emotional reaction from your customers because it instantly makes your chatbot more personal and familiar.
  2. Familiarity
    Names designed to be memorable and relatable encourage more customers to interact with your chatbot and your teams to create positive associations.
  3. Expressing your brand personality
    Your chatbot should match up with your brand values, tone and style, helping customers deepen their connection with your brand. It’s worth involving your marketing team or anyone responsible for branding right at the beginning of your naming process.
  4. Testing it out
    Your chatbot name is going to be used a lot by customers and your own teams. Saying the name out loud and using it in context will help you decide on the right one.
  5. Cultural diversity
    Our advanced next-gen AI chatbots can launch in 160 languages, so it’s worth sense checking across all your key markets for any cultural differences in the name you choose.
  6. Legal considerations
    Under UK law, names can’t be copyrighted, so this is all taken care of. Specific trademarks can exist to protect well-established brands ― often specific to region and sector, and it’s common sense not to use them. For example, a small business can’t name their AI assistant “Nike” or “Adidas” and avoid their trademark protections by claiming it’s simply a name.

Essential dos and don’ts when choosing a chatbot name

Once you’ve considered all of the above, always come back to these four hard and fast rules:

  • Don’t try and disguise your chatbot as a human. It’s fun to use a human name, especially if it makes sense with your brand identity, but a made-up name or obvious spin on a business name can help customers recognise and readily accept it isn’t pretending to be a human.
  • Don’t include “bot” in your name. Chatbots are quickly being displaced by more advanced AI assistants like ours, and “bot” can have negative connotations with spammers and trolls across all digital channels.
  • Do check the name is easy to say. You want the name to be easy to read and pronounce, so make sure you ask others to spell it or say it out loud to check they don’t struggle.
  • Do make sure the name’s short enough to read and digest. Team members don’t want to type out a long-drawn-out name every time they make meeting notes, mention it in an email or include in marketing copy or in legal Terms.

4 easy ways to name your chatbot (and create a buzz)

Working out how to name your chatbot shouldn’t slow you down. It’s easier than you might think to quickly come up with a list of names. Here are four ideas you can use today:

  1. Create a chatbot naming day
    Nobody knows your customers better than your support teams, so why not bring them into the process and dedicate some time to brainstorming. Looking internally for ideas is an easy way to get a bigger list of names to choose from. Team members don’t have to be marketers, the name could be a simple spin on your business name, industry focus, greater purpose, or be inspired by your brand colours or values.
  2. Turn a brainstorm into a competition
    Create a buzz in the office or have a virtual competition to come up with name ideas for your AI chatbot – this is how Coventry City Council chose Basil (inspired by the architect who designed Coventry’s famous cathedral). You could incentivise the task to really make it interesting, offering a prize for the best suggestions and generate excitement with internal comms.
  3. Get your customers involved
    Running a competition for customers is another fail-proof way of getting them engaged ― who knows what they’ll come up with. At the same time, you get real insight into how they experience your brand or what they feel about it, so it’s a win-win. It’s a great teaser for the launch and helps customers feel like they know your chatbot from the off.
  4. Run a public vote instead
    We all know what happened with the Boaty McBoatface public vote, but you don’t have to take it that far unless you want the PR. Simply pull together a shortlist of potential chatbot names you like best and ask people to vote from those. You can run a poll for free using Survey Monkey, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and/or any other channel you choose.

How to choose a versatile chatbot name and why it’s essential

It’s important to recognise the most advanced AI assistants can go on to do more than answer customer service queries on your website and become fully integrated into your business. The channels it can live on are unlimited (think mobile apps, smart speakers, messaging services like WhatsApp, and more). It can help multiple departments and take on any new task, so try to avoid something overtly customer service related like “CS Sally”.

Our oldest AI assistant Stina (for Stena Line ferries) is a great example.

Stina’s been flying the flag for artificial intelligence since 2015 and has helped Stena Line customers via Facebook messenger, on their mobile app, as a hologram, and on their website. Stina has even supported their internal teams with cost-analysis systems.

Naturally, the travel AI assistant is multilingual too, so using a clear and simple name that’s easy to say has helped improve the customer experience for everyone, no matter where they are.

Why everyone loves the name Stina

  • Practical: Easily associated with the company “Stena Line”
  • Simple: Short and sweet
  • Sensory: Playful to pronounce
  • Fun: Oodles of personality
  • Ambiguous: Avoids any controversy

The true big win for business success

Ultimately, the name isn’t the most important element of a chatbot or AI assistant, it just adds to the overall experience of using one. The biggest win once you launch is you’re about to radically transform the way you support your customers.

Once you’ve got a name, start focusing your attention on making the launch of your AI assistant a rip-roaring success. Introduce it to your customers as soon as possible, so it can start learning. Ready to cut your call volumes, reduce waiting times, and skyrocket customer satisfaction.