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Chatbot Vs. Intelligent Virtual Assistant – What’s the difference & Why Care?

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In our digital world where customer expectations continue to rise, companies are turning to automation of processes in order to scale their teams with technology and fully meet customer expectations.

The key role to achieve this is Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA). Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) is an AI-enabled chat assistant that generates personalized responses by combining analytics and cognitive computing based on individual customer information, past conversations, and location, leveraging the corporate knowledge base and human insight.

But what exactly is IVAs? How do they work? Will they help your business run more efficiently? What is the difference between a Chatbot and an Intelligent Virtual Assistant?

What are intelligent virtual assistants?


Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) are AI-powered software helping businesses engage with their customers. Essentially, IVAs are ultra-sophisticated chatbots that understand and respond to natural language without being explicitly programmed.

Think of them as digital assistants that emulate human interaction to perform certain tasks, especially simple, repetitive ones.

IVAs are extensively used in customer support automation to automate email, chat, or social media ( Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook ) conversations with customers. They act as the first line of defense for your organization’s customer service team and escalate complex cases to human agents when necessary. IVAs enable 24/7 multi-channel customer support with automated customer interactions while eliminating repetitive and time-consuming processes. 

Although these assistants replace many agents’ workloads, however, they can never replace human support. Therefore the most efficient and effective teams operate with a combination of human source and artificial intelligence to provide the best customer experience 

IVA acts as a virtual agent that works with live agents to field customer inquiries. It deals with routine, high-volume queries that would otherwise bog down live customer service agents and leave the more complex queries to human agents.

This reduces costs since you pay for one virtual agent rather than hiring and training multiple human agents. IVAs can also improve job satisfaction among live agents as they ease agent workload and leave employees feeling empowered to work on complex and rewarding cases. 

In some cases, live agents become specialists in conversational AI, bot building, and training. This reduces employee turnover and improves their profiles.

What is the difference between a Chatbot and an Intelligent Virtual Assistant ?

Most businesses today are trying to implement a conversational solution to help improve overall customer experience. And if you are a Customer Experience or Digital Transformation professional looking for one, you might be a little confused about the difference between ‘chatbots’ and ‘virtual assistants’, among a host of other terms used for such solutions.


Virtual Assistants and Chatbots are often used synonymous but IVA’s It is more advanced and sophisticated than a simple chatbot, which is automated but not powered by AI. And also chatbots are restricted by a programmed script, while IVAs have contextual conversations. 

Below are the three main differences between Intelligent Virtual Assistant and Chatbots 👇

#1 IVAs can understand customer better

Chatbots are rule-based systems, they don’t retain information or learn to answer context-based questions better. 

IVAs that use deep learning models can learn from examples. This means that the more data you provide to your AI model, the better it gets at recognizing what customers want and responding to them accurately. Even the most advanced IVAs can be trained with deep learning. 

Human agents delve into conversations that the virtual assistant doesn’t understand properly and train it to recognize the intent the next time it encounters a similar conversation. This makes the IVA more efficient and able to handle more inquiries over time. 

#2 IVAs can provide better solutions

Most chatbots are basic question-and-answer machines – customers need to write the exact match to receive an appropriate answer. Chatbots use scripted responses or direct customers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages. If they cannot provide an immediate answer, there is usually a way to escalate the request to a live agent.

IVAs use conversational AI to communicate in a human-like manner. A combination of natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU), machine learning, and AI helps them understand a customer’s intent and respond naturally. 

IVAs are often integrated with an organization’s backend systems, using existing data or prior interactions to provide context for both the customers and the human agents. This also enables personalized responses. If necessary, IVAs can loop in agents for complex questions or requests. 

#3 IVAs are technically advanced

Chatbots are programmed using rule-based algorithms. This means they can recognize certain keywords or a set of predefined questions and provide customers with answers to those specific questions. 

IVAs use neural networks and machine learning-based algorithms that recognize customer queries and respond accordingly. Their natural language processing (NLP) capabilities are more sophisticated in input and output. 

For example, when a customer asks a question, IVAs recognize synonyms, misspelled words, plurals, and informal language. They respond with precise answers, even if they aren’t explicitly programmed to respond to the query at hand.

Summing it up! 

When you have to choose between chatbots and IVAs, the latter helps you achieve better customer satisfaction. We hope this article helped explain how IVAs stand out in a sea of chatbots. The IVAs implemented by Exairon has been assisting brands to have more thoughtful and customer-focused conversations to inform, assist, convince, or sell. And it would be fitting to say that the next generation of Conversational AI is at your doorstep and it’s time to embrace IVAs. 



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