Chatbots vs Virtual Assistants [Differences, Similarities, and Benefits]


Snigdha
By Snigdha | September 15, 2021 6:49 pm  | 4-min read

Chatbots and virtual assistants or virtual agents are all the rage now, and for a good reason. The customers need instant resolution today and are not willing to wait for anything. Chatbots and virtual assistants both have made customer service a lot more efficient and responsive.

Though chatbot technology has been adopted and acknowledged as an important tool for customer service, small businesses face a few challenges, particularly money and skill, when making their own chatbot. Appy Pie, with their no-code chatbot builder, has allayed these concerns and have come up with an affordable solution that can be implemented by anyone with little to no knowledge of technology.

Introduction

Chatbots and virtual assistants are often used interchangeably. Though the two are deeply connected, there are certain fundamental differences between the two, and we will be discussing these in the article ahead.

However, first, let us take a look at the infographic for a better understanding of the concept

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a piece of software that communicates with the user or site visitors. There are multiple ways in which a chatbot interacts with the users, like text, email, SMS, or even voice (like Siri, Alexa, etc.).

The primary goal of creating a chatbot is to communicate more effectively with users or prospects. Mostly rule-based, the communication is triggered when a pre-determined action occurs like a user spending a certain time on your landing page, someone typing in the pop-up, or ‘wake up’ the chatbot with a trigger command, e.g., ‘Hey Siri’, ‘Alexa’, etc.

Next, the chatbot identifies the keywords in the query and aligns them with the available knowledge base. Upon finding the most relevant response, the chatbot sends the scripted response back to the user or site visitor.

The typical tasks of a chatbot include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Provide guidance or instructions for linking a device or log in to the email (however, it might not be able to offer much assistance if the directions do not work)
  • Collect personal information like name, contact information, business needs, and more to qualify sales leads before moving them to your sales pipeline
  • Saves time for live agents by collecting information at the beginning of the conversation before transferring the conversation from bot to people
  • Set appointments, make reservations, or carry out other such functions on a calendar or any other knowledge base.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant or virtual agent is a more evolved form of the humble chatbot. Due to recent advancements in AI and cognitive technologies, virtual assistants have gained popularity in recent times.

Intelligent or smart virtual assistants, much like chatbots, are pieces of software, but their capabilities and applications are a lot more evolved. There are several ways you can train and put your virtual assistant to good use. Let’s take a look:

  • Understand the intent of the customer, offer accurate answers personalized to them while providing basic troubleshooting in a near-human manner
  • Perform repetitive, mundane tasks like lead qualification, assistance with basic tasks related to account management, and more
  • Transfer more complicated conversations to live agents smoothly.

Benefits of chatbots and virtual assistants

Appy Pie has made the process of developing chatbots and virtual assistants easier with its no-code chatbot builder platform. But first, let’s discuss whether it is worth the trouble to make a chatbot.

Here is a list of the most prominent benefits of chatbots and virtual assistants for your business.

  • Improves customer satisfaction
  • The modern customer is not willing to wait. A chatbot or a virtual assistant ensures that all their queries are answered at the earliest.

  • Enhances employee satisfaction
  • Most of the mindless, repetitive tasks can easily be taken care of by these chatbots. Not only does this reduce the workload, but it also saves the employees a lot of time which can be used in more productive tasks.

  • Easy to install
  • Appy Pie chatbots only require you to copy and paste the chatbot widget into your website code. No need to install complicated software or any specialized API or plugins. The no-code platforms have made the whole process so much simpler.

  • Easy to maintain
  • You don’t have to worry about chatbot maintenance. Appy Pie takes care of maintenance and provides round-the-clock support in case of any challenges that may come up.

Differences between chatbots and virtual assistants

For most purposes, businesses and individuals tend to use the terms chatbots and virtual assistants interchangeably. Though both types of software can help with communications and customer service, the skill sets vary considerably.

Let’s talk about the aspects with significant differences between chatbots and virtual assistants.

  1. Intelligence
  2. Chatbots can answer only those queries which they have been programmed to answer. If the query is outside of the programmed knowledge base, the chatbot fails. They do not have the ability to continue long, coherent conversations and lose the context of the flow.

    Virtual assistants are more capable of processing language and understanding the semantics of commands or queries from visitors. On top of that, virtual assistants can even understand the mood and emotions of the visitor. Most importantly, virtual assistants have the ability to continue long coherent conversations with respondents without losing context, even if the flow breaks or gets interrupted.

  3. Design
  4. The chatbot architecture is based on a model that works on how to generate responses. There are several models for chatbots, and they are selected based on the functionality or purpose of the chatbot. On the basis of the model, the chatbots are trained to provide meaningful responses.

    Virtual assistants are based on artificial neural networks or ANNs. It is these ANNs that enable the virtual assistants to identify, categorize, predict, and analyze the user inputs. This ability further helps the virtual assistants come up with accurate results in response to the user queries.

  5. Usage
  6. Great for collecting initial information and qualifying sales leads, chatbots have a limited scope of use and are not suitable for complex processes. As of now, most chatbots have limitations in terms of their learning capabilities, but with advancements in the field of artificial learning, chatbots are gradually learning to interact better.

    Compared to chatbots, virtual assistants have a much broader scope of use and can carry out quite complex processes like interacting independently with humans. Virtual assistants have the ability to improve their efficiency and accuracy with continuous use.

  7. Programming
  8. Chatbots cannot perform language processing with any level of proficiency. They are programmed to pick certain words (or keywords) from the users’ queries and come back with an answer that has already been fed into their knowledge base. They can only carry on structured conversations where they respond with answers that have been programmed for specific queries.

    Equipped with Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU), virtual assistants can even understand slang and colloquial terminology. They are programmed to perceive emotions and moods conveyed through language to a great extent.

Conclusion

Though chatbots and virtual assistants have proved to be of great assistance in making customer service more proficient, both have significant differences in their functionality and user experience.

Appy Pie provides a no-code platform to ensure that you can implement this cutting-edge technology to increase efficiency and improve your customer service experience.

Which one would you like to make today?

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Snigdha
About The Author

The Content Head at Appy Pie, Snigdha has had a passion for writing since she can remember and feels lucky for making it her career. With a total experience of 12 years, she has dedicated the last 6 years to hard-core content writing and management. She actively writes about all things related to Social Media & more. In her spare time, she would either love to read curled up on the couch or take a bag of necessities (including a good book) and drive off into the sunset.

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