Chatbots vs. Virtual Assistants for The Enterprise

By Monica Kohn   |   January 18, 2021
Chatbots vs. Virtual Assistants
More companies are focusing on designing customer-centric approaches to live support. They’re hiring and training more qualified agents using feedback to enhance the customer-agent experience. They’re also providing their teams with the information they need to provide top-notch support.

New technology continues to open doors to easier and faster solutions. Chatbots and virtual assistants are now capable of digging through huge amounts of data to find the best information. This is a process customers love because it helps them help themselves.

The terms “chatbot” (chat robot) and “virtual assistant” (VA) are often used interchangeably but they’re distinctly different. Here’s what you need to know about both:

Chatbots vs. Virtual Assistants

The differences between a chatbot and a virtual assistant basically come down to three things; understanding, context, and persistence. Both technologies use conversational agents providing next-generation knowledge management.

Chatbots’ primary mode of interaction is messaging. They have more limitations when it comes to understanding and answering complex customer questions. Virtual assistants take advantage of natural language understanding to achieve high levels of automation.

VAs employ dynamic dialog that switches between user and technology control. Chatbots rely heavily on structured dialog which can cause the conversational flow to break when they don’t understand customer intent.

Chatbots can fail to maintain consistency across multiple channels. Virtual assistants allow a customer’s conversation to be shared across live interaction, chat, email, or text.

The right tool can ensure effective communication and consistent information-sharing with customers.

What is a Call Center Virtual Assistant?

Customers are now more willing to talk to machines, thanks to the huge acceptance of personal digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. People are much more comfortable dealing with conversational AI products and enjoy how machines enable them to solve issues on their own.

Unfortunately, those expectations can be thwarted by ineffective and deficient call center technologies that don’t offer:

  • Comprehensive data-gathering before being connected to a live agent
  • Conversational front doors that route calls to the most efficient level, such as live agent or interactive voice response (IVR)
  • Quick answers to common issues; order status, payments, reservations, returns, etc.

What is the best virtual assistant tool for your enterprise? It varies from industry-to-industry, but key qualities include reliability, accuracy, and integration capabilities. This allows agents to resolve issues consistently.

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