What Is The Difference Between Chatbots and Virtual Assistants?

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With artificial intelligence evolving at an unprecedented pace, it’s no wonder that so many businesses around the world are trying to find ways to get the most out of this innovative technology. 

Hundreds of companies are now actively investing in conversational interfaces, such as virtual assistants and chatbots. In most cases, the goal is the automatization of customer support and other business processes as you can see here, which would help these companies innovate their operations, cut expenses, and augment productivity. 

However, there seems to be a general confusion when it comes to differences between virtual assistants and chatbots. To get a better understanding of these AI applications, keep reading – we’re here to clear up the confusion: 

What’s a Chatbot? 

To put it simply, a chatbot is a piece of software that falls into the category of information acquisition interfaces. 

Powered by artificial intelligence, chatbots use natural language processing to interact with users. While they typically respond with single-line responses, these automated programs are capable of simulating a conversation. 

Chatbots are virtual agents or advisors that allow users to interact with brands and services through their favorite messaging apps. They are typically used by organizations for customer support conversations, sales, brand engagement, as well as product assistance and marketing.

As such, they play a crucial role in customer support. Using text or text-to-speech, chatbots can act as mediums that allow interaction between humans and machines. In other words, a chatbot can act as a live human agent and help customers with their inquiries. 

What’s a Virtual Assistant? 

Just like chatbots, virtual assistants are also software-based conversational interfaces.

However, these AI applications assist users to accomplish daily tasks by using the most advanced means of communication. Some of these daily tasks include typing texts and emails, making calls, scheduling appointments, setting up alarms, etc. 

Generally speaking, virtual assistants can be seen as independent contractors, capable of providing competent technical, administrative, and personal support services to users, no matter their current location. They are very similar to their human counterparts that can assist you with, for example, travel planning, document preparation, or bookkeeping. 

In a similar fashion, virtual assistants offer personal assistance by helping users answer queries, get directions, manage and work across smart devices, as well as keep up with the latest news. 

Basically, a virtual assistant is a software-based conversational interface that helps users accomplish tasks through the use of NLP (natural language processing) and is offered on devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and personal computers. 

So, What’s the Difference Between Chatbots and Virtual Assistants? 


Chatbots are stand-alone, generic conversational agents that use auditory or textual means to provide basic conversational support to real human agents. Or, in other words, chatbots are virtual agents or advisors that allow customers to use their favorite messaging apps to interact with brands and services. 

On the other hand, virtual assistants allow more complex communication. These software-based personal assistants help users perform operations like playing music, making calls, sending texts, setting alarms, etc. 


As we already mentioned, chatbots can provide assistance with updating customer details, providing delivery info, finding info regarding particular services or products, or anything else related to customer support. 

They assume the role of a live human agent and hold conversations based on a specific set of guidelines. In the simplest of terms, it’s a robot assistant, one that responds to the customer’s basic questions. 

When compared to chatbots, virtual assistants are more interactive and more advanced. Besides offering a more intuitive interaction, virtual assistants are also more functional. They can help you type your emails, make calls, schedule appointments, set alarms, and so on. 


While both of these conversational interfaces can help users in many ways, chatbots can respond only to those statements and questions they are programmed to understand. In other words, they understand only site-specific technology and are unable to recognize human emotions.

As they’re modeled after live store assistants, they are mostly deployed on platforms such as Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger, etc. 

Virtual assistants, on the other hand, interact with users in a more human-like fashion through the use of more powerful natural language processing. They are more sophisticated and more accurate, with little margin for errors. 

The most common examples of virtual assistants are advanced bots such as Cortana (Microsoft), Alexa (Amazon), Siri (Apple), and Google Assistant (Google). 


Unlike virtual assistants, chatbots are unable to analyze the intricacies of human language and cannot understand human moods and emotions. Virtual assistants offer a more natural conversational flow, better accuracy, and higher efficiency. 

Nevertheless, both of these conversational interfaces have far-reaching capabilities that are bound to revolutionize the business world of tomorrow.