Chatbots vs. Conversational AI: Is there a difference?

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With both chatbots and conversational AI tools on the rise, you may be curious to know the difference between the two.

While chatbots have been in use for a while and provide simple, automated responses to customer messages, conversational AI makes for a much more human experience. 

In this article, we’ll be covering the key differences between chatbots and conversational AI and letting you know which one may be the best pick for you.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to chatbots and conversational AI tools, there are a few key facts that you should know: 

  • Some, but not all, chatbots can be powered by AI
  • Conversational AI often makes for more natural conversation 
  • Each of these has different pros and cons depending on your needs. 

At the end of the day, while chatbots and conversational AI are very similar and have some overlap, there are notable differences between the two.


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Chatbots are automated messaging systems often utilized by companies and websites looking for faster customer service.

There are two main forms of chatbots: rule-based and AI. 

Rule-based chatbots provide a series of options for you to select that will help to solve your issue or query.

AI chatbots are more conversational and provide a slightly more human-like conversation.

Examples of chatbots

If you have ever needed to seek some help or customer service on a website or app, there is a high chance that you have already encountered a chatbot. 

These take the form of small boxes on the screen, often with a small box of text indicating that they are here to help. 

Chatbots are great for simple online queries, such as tracking an online purchase, or quickly getting important information regarding a product or service.

Conversational AI

Conversational AI is becoming increasingly popular as a way to help customers online or over the phone.

A conversational AI is primarily powered by natural language processing, which is able to create more human-like conversations. 

With a higher capacity to understand what you are saying and respond in kind, conversational AI is helpful when it comes to more complex queries and issues.

Examples of conversational AI

If you have had a conversation online with any form of ‘virtual assistant’ or a similar popup, chances are you were speaking with a conversational AI. 

While real, human online customer support workers still exist, more and more companies are switching to conversational AI.

Many standard chatbots are powered by conversational AI technology, while others choose a more human appearance, giving their AI ‘virtual assistants’ a name and persona.


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What’s the difference between a chatbot and conversational AI?

While chatbots and conversational AI are quite similar, there are a range of key differences that really set them apart.

ChatbotsConversational AI
Often responds using phrases from a predetermined scriptFashions tailored, human-like responses based on individual situations
Available only as text-based, online interfacesAvailable as text and audio-based interfaces
New dialogue options often must be programmed inConstantly learning and evolving, developing its dialogue over time
Short, to-the-point responses. Primarily focused on problem-solvingHuman-like responses. Often provides superior customer support due to a polite conversational tone
Limited functions. Cannot help with queries outside of its predetermined programmingFlexible and ever-growing. Able to help with a wider range of queries
Updates and revisions are time-consuming and costlyRequires less updates due to its ever-evolving nature

Pros & Cons

Both chatbots and conversational AI have some unique pros and cons that come along with them.

Let’s take a look at some of the positive and negative aspects of these two forms of communication.



Clear and concise

Unlikely to produce any errors



Cannot operate outside its pre-programmed scope

Tone can seem blunt and unfriendly

Conversational AI


Friendly, conversational tone that is great for customer service

Has a broad range of functions

Constantly evolving and improving itself


Responses can sometimes be lengthier and take longer to produce

May occasionally produce errors due to users implementing AI manipulation

How to choose between a Chatbot and Conversational AI

Chatbots and conversational AI tools are both incredibly helpful in their own ways. 

Which one of these you choose depends entirely on your own specific needs.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to these kinds of programs! 

There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing between a chatbot and conversational AI, such as its purpose, your own preference, and the potential preferences of the customers and clients who will be using the program – just to name a few.

Chatbots vs. Conversational AI: Which one should I use?

If you have made it this far into our chatbot vs conversational AI comparison, then congratulations – you are now armed with knowledge about these two programs and can make an informed decision that best suits your requirements.

If you are wanting a simple, concise bot that will reply with a few predetermined answers that you have entered into the program, then a simple chatbot may be the best pick for you. 

If you are looking for something with a broader range of capabilities and will provide a more human customer service experience, then a conversational AI is likely the way to go.


What are the different types of chatbots?

There are many different types of chatbots that are used for unique needs.

There are support chatbots, scripted chatbots, AI-powered chatbots, social media chatbots, and hybrid chatbots – just to name a few.

What are the different types of conversational AI?

A main type of conversational AI is AI chatbots, which provide written answers and responses to queries. 

There are also audio AI voicebots, which are often used in call centers to carry out simple conversations, and interactive voice assistants, which are advanced AI that is capable of complex conversation.

How to create a conversational chatbot?

You don’t have to be a coding or programming expert in order to create a conversational chatbot.

There are many online sources that will help you to create your own conversational chatbot with little to no prior knowledge on the subject.

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Donny is the founder of SMB Guide. He is a seasoned small business owner and entrepreneur, with over 17+ years of experience growing and building companies. He is a well traveled and multi-faceted individual with several successful six figure business exits.