Intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) may seem like the latest buzz word for chatbots, however, it is so much more than a new name for the same technology. The basic premise of chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants is essentially the same. They are both conversational interfaces that help businesses and customers interact. However, there are significant differences in the scope, complexity, and capability of the two technologies.
What is an intelligent virtual assistant?
An intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) allows an organization to deploy software-based “assistants” to provide information and complete tasks for users and customers using conversational requests instead of computer commands. IVA’s can be controlled by your voice, web chat, text messaging, and social media messaging. For example, Amazon Alexa is an intelligent virtual assistant. So are Google Assistant and Siri. While these “consumer” IVA’s are used by individuals on a daily basis, companies are beginning to implement their own intelligent virtual assistant solutions to cater to their customers’ specific needs. Since consumer IVAs have experienced vast adoption, it is expected that business-specific IVAs will quickly gain acceptance by customers.Learn More
How are IVAs different than chatbots?
Intelligent virtual assistants are the result of years of chatbot evolution. As conversational technology improved, so did chatbots, until it evolved into something else. Similar to how neanderthals evolved into homo sapiens over the span of thousands of years. The result is a more robust technology that offers a better solution to businesses and customers alike.
The first chatbots were programmed with scripted responses based on what the user input. There was no learning process involved, and they were limited in their responses to only what was programmed. The bot could not understand synonyms, misspellings, etc… Because of this shortcoming, they were only used to automate basic tasks, like responding to FAQs.
Then came along Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies. Natural Language processing allows a bot to understand that “Hello” is a standard greeting and respond appropriately. The bot could now also differentiate between a statement and a question. While these details may seem trivial, it made a huge improvement in chatbot/user interactions. Machine learning allows chatbots to train themselves based on previous customer service interactions, transcripts & recordings of interactions between a human agent and a customer, and more. Together, these technologies have helped transform chatbots into intelligent virtual assistants.
IVAs are not restricted in their programming. Rather, they are more of an interactive platform that can handle things like helping a user find what they are looking for, answering an FAQ, schedule an appointment or walking a user through a checkout process- all while conversing in a friendly, human-like tone. What’s more, they can do this across multiple devices and platforms.
Here is a simple breakdown highlighting the differences between chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants:
Leveraging the Power of Intelligent Virtual Assistants
Technology for conversational interfaces is continuously evolving, but currently, IVAs have the ability to transform the way your brand interacts with customers. An intelligent virtual assistant is the perfect solution for businesses looking to provide your customers with better options to check flight statuses, book an appointment, reset passwords, get account information, or even pay bills, can help. Interested in learning more?