Intelligent virtual assistants, also known as Intelligent Virtual Agents, are software that utilizes a set of rules and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to interact with customers and carry out service and support interactions. A virtual agent uses scripted rules and AI to provide automated service and guidance to customers. By leveraging natural language processing and conversational AI, virtual agents provide a more human-like approach to automation.

Contact centers implement intelligent virtual assistants as a stand-in for, or first interaction with, customer service teams.

Intelligent virtual assistants are similar to the commonly used chatbot. The difference lies in the capabilities. Chatbots search for keywords and provide standardized responses, answering a finite set of possible questions. Intelligent virtual assistants, on the other hand, can reply with pertinent questions to solve a customer’s concerns or gather additional information to escalate to a live agent.

Intelligent virtual assistants are always available and, with the correct workflow automation, can get routine questions answered seamlessly. Intelligent virtual agents provide value for both the business and the customer.

What is the difference between IVA and a chatbot?

IVAs are more sophisticated and can handle complex tasks while providing personalized customer support. Chatbots are ideal for simple tasks and work well with a broad range of industries.

This is because the scope of tasks an IVA and a chatbot can handle differ. IVAs are designed to handle more complex tasks and can provide personalized recommendations, support, and assistance to customers. Chatbots, on the other hand, are typically used for simpler tasks such as answering frequently asked questions or routing inquiries to the appropriate department.

IVAs and chatbots can also operate on different levels of intelligence. IVAs typically have more advanced AI and machine learning capabilities than chatbots. This allows them to perform complex tasks, understand context, and learn from past interactions to improve future interactions. While chatbots primarily operate on chat interfaces, IVAs can operate through various channels such as voice assistance, chat, and even video to adapt to customer preferences.

IVAs are ideal for industries with complex products or services such as healthcare, finance, telecom, and retail where personalized support is key. Chatbots can be used in a broad range of industries for simple and common customer queries.