Published By - Brian Curtis

Virtual assistants vs. Chatbots: What’s the Difference

Virtual assistants vs Chatbots

In the world of Artificial Intelligence – chatbots and virtual assistants are two of the famous words that a user can use synonymously, but they might mean different things.

At times, one might come across the term — virtual assistant chatbot, instead of a chatbot or a virtual assistant.

There are plenty of easy-to-build chatbot toolkits flooding the market and B2B/B2C businesses. It is best to remember that the characteristics of both these technologies are different.

A critical difference is that a chatbot is server or company-oriented, while virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana, or Siri are user-oriented.

In this blog, we will look at the key difference between virtual assistants and chatbots and similarities with the tabular comparison.

Virtual Assistant vs. Chatbots: Which is more popular?

Virtual Assistant vs Chatbot Google Trends

From the above Google Trends screenshot, one can check that Virtual Assistant is ahead of Chatbots in terms of customer preferences.

Virtual Assistant vs. Chatbot: Difference Across Parameters

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is a digital persona-based software agent that helps users achieve their daily activities. For example setting clock alarms, making a to-do list, setting reminders, typing messages, etc.

Virtual assistants are almost identical to personal human assistants. They help to note down information during a meeting, giving us reminders that we had earlier set for ourselves or read-out chats and emails sent.

Virtual assistants are also known as intelligent personal assistants. They help people with managing their day-to-day activities like sorting email, scheduling meetings, etc.

Famous VAs are Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

While these virtual assistants might assist you with many daily small tasks. While it comes to customer service, they cannot reply like the human customer care personnel as they can’t help solve your doubts on their own.

Similarly, VAs help us:

  • control smart devices and respond to our queries
  • To check flight status
  • Directions via GPS
  • manage news we’d likely pay interest to, etc.

What is a Chatbot?

A Chatbot is a software that is designed with the sole purpose of engaging with users in human-like conversations.

Hence, chatbots are deployed by businesses to interact with customers (or prospects) via 1 to 1 dialogue and offer help 24*7.

Chatbots are self-automated programs that are used as a means to correspond with humans via text-based or audio-based methods.

A chatbot is an AI-powered software that many firms generally use to enrich their customer service initiatives. Chatbots hold a critical role in customer care, wherein they are used as a data acquisition tool from the company’s end.

Customers interact with chatbots to clarify their queries about a product. They can also book a demo/trial session with the product manager or sales team.

Key Differences between Virtual Assistant and Chatbot

Here’s how the virtual assistant and chatbots differ in many aspects:

  • Intelligence:
    Virtual Assistants have a much concise UI platform. They can decipher the natural language used and the meaning of what the customer is trying to say. In such a method, they can have more extended human interaction.

Chatbots are typically text-based and are arranged in such a way to reply to only a specific set of commands or questions. If the query asked by a user is other than the learned set of responses, they will fail to answer that query.

  • Natural Language Processing
    VAs primarily focus upon natural language processing (NLP) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU). They can now understand even the slang words used in everyday genuine conversations and analyze each sentence’s sentiments.

Chatbots are not programmed to reply to a question in slang terms. It does not have very high language processing skills. It only picks certain words from the user, processes them, and answers them with the most suitable answer that is programmed into it.

  • Tasks
    Virtual Assistants can perform a broader set of tasks, for example, comparing two or more products. Or even finding the best product based on user preferences. It is also deployed to projects like VR, decision-making, and e-commerce.

In comparison, Chatbot has limited use and does not have any high-level algorithms in customer care. Automated AI is set into a chatbot. It follows tasks based on simple IF-ELSE-THEN rules and cannot perform complex tasks.

  • Technology
    Virtual assistants use artificial neural networks or ANNs to learn from the surroundings. ANNs help recognize, classify, and predict based on the data analysis gathered from their surrounding use-cases.

Programmers and software developers can create chatbots with programming languages such as node.js, javascript, and python. Although chatbots can also use Java and C#, they don’t provide a better UI than the previous three.

Similarities

  • Both chatbots and virtual assistants hold extensive capabilities to help bring a significant change into a business.
  • The major similarity between these two technologies is that they were both created to make human lives easier through conversations.
  • Both virtual assistants and chatbots feature a human-like UI system, but they are different from each other in specific ways.
  • They can recognize what the user is saying and have in-built, ready-made replies to give to the user.

Tabular Comparison of Virtual Assistant and Chabot

Virtual assistants vs Chatbots What’s the Difference

Conclusion

Chatbots can be in the form of web-based or cross-functional applications. Today, chatbots are used most commonly in the customer service space because they are easier to build and cheaper than VAs.

But, a virtual agent (VA) is an extended version of a chatbot that can manage complex interactions for an organization.

Thus, many organizations are putting efforts to identify more areas to focus on and derive the greatest value from Artificial Intelligence.

In this blog of virtual agents vs chatbots, both are considered as fruits of Artificial Intelligence, which various businesses and firms are actively and remarkably utilizing. Thus automating their internal business operations processes.


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