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Smart voice assistant vs Voicebot vs Chatbot—What's the difference?

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

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Virtual voice assistance has become an integral part of personal and business life. Artificial intelligence can make previously slow and frustrating tasks quick and accurate.

There are several types of virtual voice assistants. When deciding which virtual assistant is the best for your business needs, it is necessary to understand how they operate, how they can be advantageous, and the difference between them so you can select the best option for your company.

Smart Voice Assistant

When thinking of a smart voice assistant or a virtual voice assistant, most consider Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri at the top of that list. However, Alexa and Siri are simply one example of artificial intelligence. Various types of synthetic voice assistants serve different purposes.

Two powerful technologies make smart voice assistants so effective. The first is natural language processing (NLP). Where other bots fail by only being able to understand specific phrases and keywords, NLP provides the nuance that comes with human communication.

The second is speech-to-text technology, which allows the AI to translate the spoken word to search databases with the same phrases, words, and sound-alikes to retain the information and formulate a response.

Smart voice assistant technology is by far the most sophisticated and accurate software. When most people employ smart voice assistants, they’re looking for conversational AI, meaning the AI can understand, interpret, and respond to a request or statement.

No one wants to contact customer service and speak robotically to be understood. However, one survey found that an estimated 33% of smartphone users still prefer calling to messaging, which is good news if a smart voice assistant can understand the intent and need of a customer’s request.

Advantages of a Smart Voice Assistant

The smart voice assistant is a quick and efficient way to manage human resource needs, respond to customer support, and manage the details of running your office, such as setting appointments, sending out surveys, and handling day-to-day tasks.

A smart voice assistant can access most databases when it’s searching for answers. Then, speech-to-text software can run the words and sounds used to gain clarity. This ensures the AI understands the request or command and follows through appropriately and accurately.

Using the most sophisticated NLP, a smart voice assistant can ensure that it understands the request and its intent, which is essential to carry out tasks accurately.

While some may consider a smart voice assistant a benefit and others may consider it a cost, using smart voice assistants may reduce total labor costs. Because AI communication can replace the work of several employees, it can be more cost-effective and efficient.

But, like all tech, there are some disadvantages to using smart voice assistants. For example, technologies like Alexa and Siri can have privacy concerns. Most AI requires a “wake word” to begin recording a request or for their speakers to pick up on the request in the first place, although their conversational abilities become more sophisticated over time.

Alexa and Siri also require an adjustment period in developing their intelligence to become highly effective. Like most things, getting comfortable with technology and allowing technology to learn habits can take a bit of time.

However, these drawbacks aside, a virtual voice assistant for your business has many more advantages than disadvantages. Because a smart voice assistant can be used in multiple aspects of your business, it frees up human labor resources to focus on the mission or product of a company.


If you’ve ever called your bank or healthcare provider, you’ve likely encountered an automated voice that assists in directing your call to the appropriate party. This is an excellent example of using a voicebot. The voicebot can quickly decipher your request and respond accordingly through speech analytics.

Voicebots are beneficial for categorizing requests. These bots still utilize NLP to problem-solve more complex requests. Additionally, it’s immensely valuable for customer outreach.

The critical difference between a smart voice assistant and a voicebot is that the latter is typically limited and can only draw from a handful of relevant responses to the situation they have been programmed for. However, it does use most of the same technology as a smart voice assistant, such as natural language and speech-to-text software.

Voicebots can help take care of minor requests and reserve human staff for the more complex requests. Although it becomes beneficial in managing staff output and productivity, it doesn’t require retaining more employees.

Pros and Cons

Voicebots are helpful for customer and employee engagement by being able to send out notifications, updates, feedback surveys, etc. It can also manage HR needs, such as updates, notifications, and feedback calls.

The most enticing part of a voicebot is how it frees customer service personnel. It can take care of quick fixes and relies on its NLP to manage support. In addition, it frees up employees to handle the more high-demand requests, which is especially useful if a company receives a high volume of calls per day, such as a busy call center.

While voicebots can listen to inquiries and use NLP to respond to requests, they require a more complex setup because they tend to be more specific and tailored to the standard demands of that business. As a result, it requires more resources to set up a voicebot, and it's not as sophisticated as a smart voice assistant.

Voicebots are still robotic in tone, void of the human-like communication that leaves customers feeling helped and satisfied. Nearly 90% of Americans still report experiencing frustration when interacting with voicebots.


Chatbots mostly rely on the use of a computer or application. In addition, the text-to-speech technology these bots use is slightly different and more specific than voicebots.

Using a chatbot for a business requires customers to visit your website or app and communicate via a chat message to get support with their issues.

It typically pulls from a much more limited data set relevant to the business. It hopes to entirely satisfy customer needs virtually, rather than as a hybrid of a voicebot and a human. It acts quickly and can rely on programmed responses and apply them within minutes.

Pros and Cons

Suppose your business is primarily online or remote. In that scenario, a chatbot can be an excellent resource for limiting the strain on your human staff or eliminating the need for more support staff. The chatbot liaises between the customer and customer support staff to manage simple issues and requests.

It also benefits customers who prefer to handle their issues autonomously and quickly. Many people still prefer to avoid calling customer care, and chatbots enable them to resolve their problems without a conversation.

Being entirely virtual, chatbots use text-to-speech technology, are simplistic, and can quickly and efficiently handle everyday support needs.

They will not necessarily get smarter, and they will require frequent adjustment. While chatbots are very capable of learning more through repeated habits, that learning happens at a much slower rate than with voicebots—assuming you are not always fine-tuning it.

Even though chatbots still contain NLP, it is less sophisticated and thus cannot handle diverse, complex, or nuanced requests. Without that missing piece, they simply rely on the pre-programmed flow chart to respond to requests or commands, limiting the amount of work they can perform.

Significant Differences for Conversational AI

When choosing AI for your business, it would be wise to take some things under advisement. First, consider the software used, i.e., NLP, speech-to-text, etc. Another deciding factor is your company’s projected growth. For example, one form of AI may be a great resource immediately but won’t be in five years.

The most important thing to look for with digital voice assistants is its NLP technology. Without this type of programming, an AI is limited to a specific skill set and flow chart to meet demands.

It relies on the process of recognizing keywords or phrases and follows the programmed steps of how to respond. Without NLP, an AI simply doesn’t come equipped with the ability to problem-solve and may still need to be directed to a real person.

When employing AI in business, focus on the NLP capabilities. Voicebots and chatbots aren't as intelligent as smart voice assistants. It comes down to being an interactive assistant versus a specific need-driven assistant.

Which Smart Voice Assistant is Right for You?

For all their attributes, voicebots and chatbots are not ideal choices. Suppose you’re looking to improve your customer relations, grow your customer base, and eliminate the extra work of human resources. In that case, a smart voice assistant is a more sophisticated option to improve every aspect of your business.

With AI constantly improving, it is an option that will grow with your business and is an investment that will pay off in the long term.

Click here to learn more about your business and AI.

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