Hello Google Bot

"Okay, Google?"

Google is the #1 most visited website in the world. My hamster knows what Google is. You'd think by now name recognition wouldn't be Google's primary concern.

And, yet they insist we summon their bot with “Okay Google.” The phrase is a mouthful. Say it a few times out loud. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

Plus, the word "okay" has lackluster connotations. It's a synonym for "ordinary, alright, fine, whatever." Doesn't seem to us like the best vibe to kick off a relationship.

But that's what conversational AI needs to do. Siri and Alexa understand this. So do Poncho, Swelly, and Yala. While we know they're machines, in each case we can't help but feel we're dealing with a unique who, not a generic what.

Google is a what. We don't associate Google with an endearing, plucky persona. Google is a juggernaut, behemoth company, connecting us with a vast repository of data, tools, and innovation. Addressing the almighty Google by name in a convo feels somehow wrong.

Google Needs A Bot Persona

Rather than having casual discourse with Google itself – which feels impersonal – we'd enjoy dealing with an ambassador. Someone or something with a name other than Google. A distinct entity, not a huge company. That way, we'll have a bit more fun, develop an emotional bond, and remain loyal.

The best conversational UIs are useful and efficient. But if they don't offer a wisp of soul or sense of fun, they'll never be exceptional. They'll be ordinary, passable, okay. And okay isn't good enough.

Okay, Google?

Stay tuned for our follow-up post: what we love about Google’s conversational interface, in spite of the unfortunate trigger phrase.

Thinking about bots for your business?