I have a robotic vacuum cleaner. If you don’t have one go and get one. Even with a big, hairy beast of a dog like I have, Winston does a great job and saves me so much time. Yes, you read that right, I gave my vacuum cleaner a name: Winston. It’s much easier to say, “Winston is stuck under the couch” or “Winston needs to be emptied” to one of my family members than “the robot vacuum cleaner needs emptying”. And I’m not alone in naming robotic help.

I’m working with a client who is unsure if they should use an avatar or name for their chatbot and they want my advice and reasoning to help them make a decision.

My advice

Use an avatar and give the chatbot a name. Why?

Differentiation

Your customer can immediately recognise the difference between a live chat agent and a chatbot just by looking at it, if you get the design elements right.

Image 1 – Alex

Image 2 – Pat

Above are great examples of the use of an avatar and name that immediately lets the user know that they will be interacting with a chatbot even before they click on them. Once a user clicks on each chatbot the user can then read that they are interacting with a chatbot.

Image 3 – Ask a question

Image 4 – Chat now 

The above images show icons for a chatbot and for a live agent chat. Can you tell which one is which?

It’s hard as there is little differentiation between the two. Both examples were taken from different government websites.

Image 3 is for the chatbot and Image 4 is to talk with a live agent.

Personality

I don’t know about you but I like to know the name of the person I’m talking to. Chatbot conversations are no different. You need to build a human connection and rapport with your user from the start and a name and image the user can view when interacting makes it easier to build this connection. You would be surprised how many people start their chat session greeting the chatbot by name and then asking their question. Or asking a chatbot how they got their name.

Can you imagine saying “Hey, Apple chatbot tell me…” rather than “Hey, Siri tell me…”?

Humans are social creatures and even though they know that aren’t talking to a human they are happy to ask a chatbot questions if they get a faster response than waiting for a live agent or sending an email. According to Chatbots Life, by 2021 85% of customer interactions will be handled without human agents.

TL;DR – yes, you should

Chatbots that use an avatar an name have more personality that makes them more engaging and memorable. Plus, it’s much easier to discuss something by name than by title. Winston is so much easier to say than the robot vacuum cleaner, just as Alexa is much easier to say than Google’s Assistant.