Chatbot v/s Intelligent Virtual Assistant – What’s the difference & why care?

The million-dollar question!!! Even though chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants are two ripened fruits of the same tree, it’s high time now that you join the wagon and know the difference between these two, because if Intelligent Virtual Assistants and chatbots appear identical to you then your understanding of these AI friends requires an upgrade. In actuality, there is a serious difference among them that businesses need to know well before introducing chatbots or virtual assistants to their employees.  

Still, CX and Digital Transformation professionals get confused and hence the question that always tags along is – can ‘chatbot’ and ‘Intelligent Virtual Assistant’ be used interchangeably? Or does their scope, capabilities, and complexity vary?  

In layman language, IVAs are evolved chatbots to serve the requirements of a modern-day enterprise customer. Chatbots can be simply defined as rule-based systems which can perform routine tasks with general FAQs. While on the flipper side of the coin, advanced AI techniques aka IVAs, are fully equipped with Natural Language Understanding (NLU). It just gets better!! NLU aids in understanding and retaining context for polished conversations while carrying out a variety of tasks to fulfill a user’s requirements.   

Drilling deeper down to understand how IVAs bypass its own precedators, the chatbots.  

Better understanding of user queries by IVAs  

When user queries are at stake, chatbots have limited scope because they have been responding from pre-defined scripts. Whereas IVAs got the ability to find out over time and adapt to context for free-flowing chats. The focus of the whole market has transferred from process-centric conversational AI to customer-centric experience. Chatbots are not trained to adapt to complex situations and sentences with any business or brand-specific queries. This leads the way to bot breakage and heavier load on live agents, ending in a loop of poor Customer Experience.   

Here are some proven use-cases of IVAs having sure shot outperformed any regular chatbot: 

1)  To Maintain conversation context: While chatbots are busy identifying only return users, IVAs are two steps ahead by keeping account of information derived from past user behavior and actions. This data can be used for more context in the upcoming conversations. 

2) To Gauge Sentiments: When IVAs are equipped with simulated ‘emotional intelligence’ which helps them analyze user emotions by perceiving customer mood on the basis of sentence structures and speech patterns, there’s no chance that they are going to be bypassed by chatbots in this category. It’s all about adding that human touch. 

3) To Understand complex sentence structures: Common human mistakes like the use of slangs, non-affirmative sentences, spelling blunders or in general any “negations” cannot be handled wisely by chatbots as they do not consist of any advanced techniques as in IVAs.    

4) A Pro in handling user intents: Factors like poor or vague intents and queries in natural human conversing language don’t stop IVAs from handling users with ease and prodding (not literally) users till it receives proper clarification.  

#2 Technical advancement of IVAs 

Don’t stop your praises for IVAs at their core capability of powering conversations because it also has a huge list of features to meet high demanding requirements of any brand. This can guarantee any brand or/and business with an increase in ROI over time and justify the obvious: CX’s future is in the hands of IVAs.   

1. Contextual AI to Agent handoffs: There are situations when bot queries are passed to agents or customers demand talking with an agent. Now, normal chatbots would directly assign queries on predefined logic routes but IVAs check not only the agent’s availability but their capabilities before handling a query. Further, IVAs studded with NPL suggest answers to help agents and ease their work.  

2. Leveraging Voice for Enhanced CX: Voice bots are so much in trend. Isn’t it crazy to know that now there are bots who listen to you and then respond back through text or speech. NPU enriched IVAs understand what the customer wants to say and their underlying message and then responds back accordingly. To be honest, chatbots are not yet prepared for this, making them unreliable to provide customer assistance through speech. 

3. Chat interface & user experience: Customers already enjoy this automated chat thing that chatbots do and they literally don’t have to do anything except for adjuring the chatbot. But what if customers now get suggested replies in addition to the automated replies that the chatbot gives. Enters IVA!!! IVAs uses interactive reminders to get user’s attention on the basis of predefined triggers. When the customers chat with the virtual assistance, there are auto suggestions from the IVAs side and the chat interface is dynamically configured to meet all the needs that the brands make for their design.   


With the rapid pace at which conversational AI technology is advancing, brands must maintain the evolving demands of their customers. Customers today expect a customer experience that’s engaging, easy, and online. With customer convenience in the middle of development, it’s time to maneuver to the following generation of text and voice-powered virtual assistants to escalate return on investment for your customer service.  

One more thing of utmost importance is that both chatbots and virtual assistants have extensive potential to revolutionize business. The critical focus is to identify the right areas of application to strengthen your business by leveraging this AI duo. Reach out to or contact us at to know about these automated applications and more.

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