3 Key Differences Between AI Voicebots and IVRs


Two key elements of the customer experience are speed and convenience. Today’s customers demand faster, easier online interaction with the brands they choose. Fortunately, AI has been making huge strides and has come far enough to be on the list of tools you can use to deliver a better customer experience. 

Before you can fully appreciate all of the benefits of AI, you have to understand it a little better. One of the most popular types of artificial intelligence on the radar right now is the voicebot. Voicebots essentially take the IVR system one step further, using generative and conversational AI to interpret and respond, rather than providing pre-determined responses based on user inputs. 

When creating your customer service strategy, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right tools for the job. To help with that, let’s take a closer look at voicebots and IVRs, including some key differences that you should know. 

IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

IVR systems have been popular for some time now. They allow you to provide callers with pre-recorded messages and information, direct calls to the right agent or department, and take advantage of other intelligent call features. These systems are available 24/7 and they’re familiar to most customers. 

IVR does well at getting the job done. However, that’s about all that it does, which is why some people are seeking out alternatives like voicebots. 

What’s a voicebot?

A voicebot is powered by AI, or artificial intelligence. It uses capabilities like natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to train itself to understand people’s speech and respond appropriately. These are essentially supercharged IVRs with a brain that can think and integrate with your customer database to help you deliver an even better customer experience. 

Voicebots are quick and accurate. The more data they have access to, the more accurate and robust they can be. Some AI voice assistants are capable of having complex conversations that an IVR couldn’t even dream of facilitating. And as technology continues to improve, these AI tools are only getting better. 

The differences between IVR and AI voicebots 

So, what are the biggest characteristics that distinguish AI voicebots from IVR? 

Difference #1 – IVR cannot be trained like AI can

The single biggest reason that customers hate IVR systems is that they are not intelligent. Today’s customers want businesses that respond quickly and conveniently. They don’t want to have to go through five menus and shout into the phone to get a response. 

Voicebots allow your callers to have a conversation instead of answering prompts or trying to remember which number to press after a laundry list of options. They can use conversational or generative AI, or a combination of the two, to respond to customer questions or provide direction. 

Difference #2 – Voicebots can interpret meaning and intent 

The language learning capabilities of AI are what really set it apart from other technologies that have come before it. Today’s voicebots are capable of understanding context, not just taking in text and spitting out a response. 

This allows you to better cater to your audience and their needs, no matter what those might be. A voicebot could be the reason that a customer gets through to an agent at the perfect moment (right before they jump ship or leave a negative review), for example, so that their issue can be resolved. 

Difference #3 – IVR has limited use cases 

AI-powered voicebots offer a unique new benefit for companies: scalability. These conversational AI bots can be developed to handle complex and sophisticated use cases. They can even automate common customer queries — saving a lot of time and effort for your human support team. 

IVR systems are limited in their function and use. They can only take users so far, then they run out of options. Eventually, you either connect to a person, leave a message, or simply disconnect from the call. Often, questions are left unanswered and customers are left dissatisfied. 

AI voicebots address these concerns and more, delivering a more dynamic solution that delivers real answers for customers who reach out to your business.

The benefits of AI voicebots 

Although we’ve already covered a lot of the perks of these tools in discussing what they are and how they work, it’s worth reiterating some of the main points. After all, these are the future of customer service and the future is now. It’s time to get on board with AI. When you do, you’ll enjoy benefits like:

  • Personalized, ultra-targeted conversations and connections
  • Time and money savings 
  • Increased efficiency and expediency in customer service 
  • Shorter wait times 
  • 24/7 accessibility 

People like voicebots and other self-service options, but they also like knowing someone’s behind them when they need a little more support. Strike the balance and you’ll find the perfect recipe for success. 

Speaking of balance, add the human element with a partnership with Smith.ai

At Smith.ai, we understand that you have a lot going on. Trying to keep up with things like AI and voicebots can seem like a huge undertaking. Fortunately, it’s not something that you have to do on your own. Our virtual receptionists can offer a full-service solution to handle everything you need, from outreach campaigns to live chat support and more. 

Ask about our new AI voice assistant and how it can help you elevate your customer service experience, or how we can assist with lead intake and appointment scheduling to streamline your admin work. We can even provide a 24/7 answering service with real people to go with your voicebot, covering all the bases. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai.

Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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