Virtual Assistant vs. Voice Assistant: A Comparison

Virtual Assistant vs. voice assistant—yes, they’re different! Learn what separates a human VA from an AI VA

“Hey, Google, is it going to rain tomorrow?” If you’ve talked to your smart TV or speaker in this way, then you’re familiar with voice assistants. You know, the AI programs that give you the power to ask questions and be given quick answers, and order around and be served without egos getting in the way.

That’s an AI VA for you, so much different from a human virtual assistant with emotional intelligence and supercritical thinking skills. They’ll take the same requests, but not without considering your budget or preferences.

Do you see now how distinct they are?

In this article, we’ll match up virtual assistant vs. voice assistant. Which one is the right choice for your needs? After reading, you’ll soon find out.

So, let’s get started!

What’s a Voice Assistant?

A voice assistant, also known as an “Intelligent Personal Assistant,” is an artificial intelligence program that allows users to interact, control devices and get things done using voice commands.

How Do Voice Assistants Interact?

Voice assistants utilize natural language processing, speech recognition, algorithms and data banks to transcribe written words, analyze user requests and respond accurately via machine-generated speech.

The critical thing to remember here is the “wake words.” These are specific special phrases, such as “Hey Google” and “Hey, Siri,” that trigger a voice assistant to initiate a command.

“Wake words” uses a special algorithm that listens to these special phrases, waking the voice assistants to begin communicating and doing the tasks.

Here are some of the most popular voice assistants today:

  • Siri (Apple)

  • Alexa (Amazon)

  • Google Assistant

  • Cortana (Microsoft)

What’s a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is a contractual remote professional who provides administrative services to entrepreneurs and business owners.

Many companies work with human VAs because they’re convenient and highly cost-effective. You can outsource them without a sweat through the many freelance marketplaces or a virtual assistant agency.

How Do Virtual Assistants Work?

Virtual assistants work from a remote location, typically home-based. No NLP technology is needed; you can converse with a human VA using online communication tools such as Skype or Slack. For project management, there are tools like Trello, Basecamp, and Asana to keep track of progress.

Typically, human VAs handle entry-level tasks focused on admin work like scheduling appointments and booking travel.

Here are some of the most in-demand types of human virtual assistants:

  • Digital Marketing VA

  • IT Virtual Assistant

  • Customer Service VA

  • Bookkeeping Virtual Assistant

  • Research VA

Although human virtual assistants are working-from-home admin staff, they also offer expertise in content creation and web design. While this arrangement gives you access to added skills without paying extra, we recommend that you hire a VA who really specializes in these tasks for more desirable results.

Virtual Assistant vs. Voice Assistant: Yes, They’re Different!

Though people usually mistake virtual assistants for voice assistants and vice versa, they couldn’t be more different from each other.

One uses data and algorithms to function, while the other relies on brain power and soft skills to make critical decisions.

Still, both human VAs and AI VAs help every businessperson to do more work, despite their tight schedules.

Let’s take a look at the major differences between a virtual assistant vs. voice assistant.


Human VA: Unlike a regular office employee, a human VA is a lot cheaper to hire. Salary isn’t fixed but rather based on the hours of service, on an “as-needed” basis, with no compensation benefits.

Since it’s remote, there’s no need for office space or equipment—that’s about 78% cost savings in operating costs. You also have the option to work with them part-time, full-time or freelance, depending on your needs.

AI VA: The initial cost of using an AI VA can be steep. Even after you’ve set it up, there’s still a running cost for maintenance for them to perform at their very best and avoid malfunctions. The good news is that it can be a bit cheaper than the duration of working with a human VA.

Ease of Operation or Use

Human VA: Human assistants can handle a variety of repetitive tasks in one go. On top of that, they can manage other aspects of your business operation, even the ones that require expertise, such as recruitment and SEO.

However, human VAs don’t have preloaded information; they need to learn things to successfully navigate tasks and new software programs.

AI VA: Nothing beats the quickness and convenience of AI technology; voice assistants are hands-free voice access. They’re very ideal for busy people, shimmying to every request effortlessly—as long as these commands are within the AI algorithm mappings, of course.


Human VA: While human VAs can offer round-the-clock service, they still have to go on breaks and vacations. They get sick and restless when overworked. Also, there’s an issue of time zone difference, which means, at times, you may not be able to reach them and get a prompt response.

However, all of this can be fixed by partnering with a trustworthy virtual assistant agency like VAV Asia. They can provide instant replacement VAs whenever one of those scenarios transpires.

AI VA: Since it’s a machine, AI VAs are right up your alley 24/7, with no breaks needed—so long as the system stays operational. When it crashes, though, all hell breaks loose—operations will be severely affected and will crash alongside customer satisfaction, brand image and sales.


Human VA: Unlike bots, human virtual assistants don’t rely on preloaded data. They continuously learn and improve with written language and preset options. This reduces errors dramatically. Humans have emotional intelligence, which allows them to handle complex situations. So even if the variable changes, they can still make smart decisions independently.

AI VA: When you’re relying on voice interactions powered by algorithms and data sets, variability is high. This means that even though AI technology is precise and fast, the probability of errors is high.

Security and Privacy

Human VA:There will always be a risk of indiscretion with humans. Sensitive data may be breached. One way that you can lower the risk of this ever happening is by working with a reliable VA company.

Virtual assistant agencies offer trained human VAs who understand the importance of confidentiality and know how to protect personal information. This is really crucial, especially in the legal and medical fields, where sensitive information is often discussed.

AI VA: Security is one of the downsides of using AI voice assistants. AIs use data to function, and that data includes important personal information such as location, contact numbers and even your thoughts. Due to this, there’s a massive risk that information may be leaked and misused, especially nowadays when cyberattacks are so rampant.

Tasks Versatility

Human VA: If we’re talking about task versatility, there’s no beating the human virtual assistants. Thanks to their diverse skill sets and expansive experience, they can handle a variety of office chores—from general admin tasks to more complex software development.

AI VA: Going back to not being able to move without data, voice assistants are limited to the tasks that they’re programmed to do. Yes, they’re quick as a wink, but if they’re not trained to do it, it’s pretty useless.


Human VA: Human biology says that humans are the most adaptable creatures. We have bigger brains, superb computing powers and emotional intelligence, allowing us to thrive in any diverse environment. Even more so, with guidance, skilled human VAs can shift gears like true champions.

AI VA: Voice assistants need modifications and software updates to adapt to new changes. They need training to learn and adjust to unpredictable environments.

Choosing Between Virtual Assistant vs. Voice Assistant

Virtual assistant vs. voice assistant? The choice depends solely on your needs and preferences.

Human VAs offer a more secure experience with tons of heart and a personal touch. Voice assistants are also not far behind; the efficiency and convenience they can provide are truly unmatched. The point is that each approach brings something to the table.

But to make a well-informed decision between the two, it helps to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I need?

  • What tasks am I going to delegate to my assistant? Are they complex? Do I need a personal touch?

  • What’s the level of security and privacy required?

  • Do I need round-the-clock service? Or do I need assistance only for specified hours?

  • Is the customer interaction high volume?

As technology continues to evolve, the difference between human VAs and AI voice assistants will slowly blur. But for now, human VAs are the superior choice. They have the soft skills you need to power up a team, build lasting relationships and navigate complex situations.