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There seems to be a divergence of views on chatbot UX design.

On the one hand, some way the best name for your bot is NO name at all (https://blog.intercom.com/how-to-name-a-bot/), but others are saying that the name itself is important (Alexa being the classic example, central to engagement as well as being clear it's a bot and not a person doing the conversation (https://chatbotsmagazine.com/6-tips-for-designing-your-best-chatbot-591aba9c9eff). Does it matter if the name is "human"?

Thoughts?

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    Just as a thought, chatbots are meant to help engage people in human-like fashion and integrate into a normal conversation - which includes looking and behaving like normal people as much as possible. If it doesn't do this, it's less of a chatbot and you're just running arbitrary commands. One obvious benefit to naming a chatbot is that multiple bots could be sitting in a single chat, and it's useful in lots of situations to be able to distinguish them apart. – Liam Hammett Oct 28 '17 at 1:25
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Yes, your chatbot definitely needs a human name. Chatbots are a simulation of conversations between you and a 'person'. Imagine talking to an actual human being who doesn't have a name. That would be very odd, no? Something as simple as a name and a profile picture will help to humanize the chatbot and blur the line between the computer and real-life support. Without this humanizing factor, a chatbot feels more like a robot you're pushing buttons on to get what you want. The charm with a chatbot is that you can give everyone a person with whom they can have a personal and enjoyable conversation.

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I would also like to add that it is important for a more personal interaction between the user and your product which generates more trust and general satisfaction. If you have done some type of user research, you could also apply something similar characteristics to your chatbot from one of your personas. For instance, usabilityhub.com is using three chatbot profiles and it seems to reflect their potential user groups..

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I think it's safe to say that you will need to give your bot a name (definitely make it a human name, makes it more relatable), but I'd like to remind you of the power of customization (a.k.a. personalization). That is, allow the user to name the chatbot.

Quote from the first linked article:

Personalization is a means of meeting the customer's needs more effectively and efficiently, making interactions faster and easier and, consequently, increasing customer satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat visits.

See, when a user opens up an app and there's an emotional connection established in any form/way, that emotional connection will be the bridge that keeps the app installed on the user's device and the user glued to the app. This is something you see a lot in video games, give the player just a little bit of control over things and they'll start having "feelings" for them. This is also one of the reasons why pet games are so popular, and why people like pets to begin with. It's all about control.

This connection is what you want the user to have with your bot. Because, as soon as one has an emotional connection with something it's hard to let it go (hence the high retention rates talked about in the above quote). Remember how difficult it was to uninstall Minecraft PE from your android phone? I do, I enjoyed that game a lot and had fun naming my pet dogs "rocky".

Anyways...

Here's another great article by HubSpot on the topic.

  • I don't think this parallel works completely; with pets and video game characters, you either have a sense of ownership or you are projecting yourself. – Wanda Nov 30 '17 at 11:35

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