Over the years, this was a question we were asked frequently by our customers. We finally reveal the big secret behind naming our product ‘Amber’.
Due to restrictions within the product and Amber’s identity + trust that spans across companies, we consciously decided that the name cannot be customised at the moment. Having said that below is what led us to zero-in to the name “Amber” who proudly speaks to 250000+ employees in 40+ countries.
Now coming straight to the research behind the name...
Since the chatbot was in 2016 was ahead of its time, it was important to have:
- A name that’s neutral to genders (this was much before we developed her persona)
- A name that’s neutral to geographies i.e. not too American, British or Indian in phonetics
- A name that’s easy to spell by a toddler
- A name that’s easy to pronounce with 2 syllables
2. Why Amber fit the bill:
- Amber is ideally pronounced as Aem-ber, a feminine name commonly used in the west. However, interestingly Amber is phonetically very close to a common gender-neutral Indian name pronounced as Umm-bur (Hindi: अंबर). That’s why we never correct anyone who mispronounces her name because we found a name that was neutral across genders + geographies.
- Not only was Amber 2 syllables but also 100% of individuals in the initial research group could correctly spell her name in the first attempt itself.
- Further, since Amber predicts employees who are disengaged or at-risk of leaving, it was only fitting to have that coincide with the many Early Warning Systems used by HRBPs where they rely on a Red, ‘Amber’, Green signal to prevent attrition in their organisation.
- Among other options on the table, Amber stood out as a warm and friendly name, ideal for a persona to whom employees can confide in, when it comes to opening up or sharing sensitive details.
3. Frequently asked questions since 2016
Question 1: If that’s the case, why do you now have a clearly called out female mascot for Amber? Can we customise a bot’s persona to reinforce gender equality at the workplace?
- A few months into Amber’s birth, we consciously gave Amber a female persona once we found about numerous studies that suggest that bot users (in this case, employees) impose certain caring stereotypes onto machines when they’re programmed with a woman’s voice. When machines are perceived as more sympathetic, helpful, and cordial, they have a better shot at engaging people meaningfully and perhaps that’s why Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant all use a female persona.
- Prelim research indicated that humans preferred or trusted a female persona over a male’s when it comes to opening up or sharing sensitive details but, we did want to challenge the notion of subservient bots being given female personas. Amber is totally different than query answering bots because she delivers actionable insights helping business leaders to take key decisions where they trust her and rely on her for predictive people analytics. And all of this made possible because of her ability to have empathetic conversations with the employees.
Question 2: Is the ‘Amber alert’ in the United States a hindrance for customers to launch the chatbot with the name Amber?
- Although it’s a common question at the time of purchase, all our customers in the US are okay with it. Perhaps that’s because Amber indeed is a common name since data says that 363,886 individuals in the United States have been named Amber since 1880 and it has an 86% approval rating. Since we believe Amber’s persona should be no different from a human, we don’t hesitate to rely on this as the source of data provided above.
Since we’ve come a long way, in retrospect (embarrassingly enough), happy to share the other 4 options that were actually in contention on the basis of the criteria mentioned above, and some relevant responses from surveys triggered to 100+ randomly chosen individuals:
- Sasha: Was indeed gender/region neutral was being deemed as mainstream and repeatedly misspelled as Saasha. Therefore, declined.
- Sam: Although it’s used as a nick-name in India across genders and a common name in the west, it was being associated with the infamous federal taxman, Uncle Sam. Therefore, declined.
- Iris: We almost settled on Iris but was declined last minute, when we were told it sounds like Siri spelt backwards.
- Amber: While I’ve explained the business-oriented criteria above, on a personal note some individuals do believe that she was named after Dr. Amber Volakis, an unforgettable character in the US based TV show House MD but I let them believe that… Maybe she was? ;)
- Veronica: Well, never-mind. All criteria failed.