AI promises unmatched speed and data processing, but human virtual assistants bring emotional intelligence, intuition, and a personal touch.
So which is better? Spoiler alert: machines can’t replicate human VAs.
The good news is there is a way of getting the best worlds of both human VAs and AI. Read on to find out how.
Table of contents
Human virtual assistants vs. AI VA: What’s the difference?
Both human virtual assistants (VAs) and artificial intelligence virtual assistants (AI VAs) help busy people manage time-consuming work-related tasks and operations.
Both AI virtual assistants and VAs come with their own sets of advantages and limitations.
Here's a quick comparison to highlight their differences:
Complexity and understanding
Human VA: Can understand context, emotions, and cultural references. They handle complex tasks and decision-making that require human judgment.
AI VA: Operates based on programmed algorithms. They are great for routine and structured tasks but may struggle with ambiguous situations or tasks requiring emotional intelligence.
Human VA: Requires training for specific tasks and may need updates or refreshers over time.
AI VA: Can be trained on vast amounts of data quickly and can "learn" over time, especially if they employ machine learning. However, they're only as good as the data and algorithms they're built on.
Human VA: Limited to work hours, may require breaks, sick days, or vacations. Managed virtual assistant services can provide cover and replacement VAs if necessary.
AI VA: Available 24/7 without breaks, as long as the system is operational.
Human VA: Typically requires a salary or hourly wage, benefits, and other associated costs. Rates depend on the VA’s location, skillset, and experience. You can also choose from working with a freelance VA or a managed virtual assistant service.
AI VA: Initial costs can be high, but once set up, the running costs are sometimes lower than hiring a human for the same duration.
Emotion and interpersonal skills
Human VA: Can form genuine relationships, show empathy, and understand human emotions.
AI VA: Lacks true emotional understanding and can't form genuine interpersonal relationships.
Braden Smith, an engagement manager at Prialto, explains how people skills are hard to replace and add a lot to everyday work tasks.
“Another benefit to having a human touch involved in your processes, especially scheduling, is the fact that we can relate directly to other people in conversation, think critically about nuanced situations, and work with others to find mutually beneficial times or solutions,” he says.
“Most direct-scheduling tools don't foster the connectivity that a person does naturally.”
Security and privacy
Human VA: There's a risk of human error or indiscretion, which might lead to a breach of sensitive information. You can lower this risk by working with a managed VA service that takes care of data privacy for you.
AI VA: Can be secure if proper encryption and cybersecurity practices are implemented, but there's always a risk of hacking or technical vulnerabilities.
Human VA: Can adapt to mistakes and rectify them based on experience. Managed VA services provide an engagement manager who helps VAs learn more quickly.
AI VA: Might repetitively make the same error unless the underlying cause is identified and rectified.
Human VA: Can handle a wide variety of tasks, especially if they have diverse skills or backgrounds.
AI VA: Limited to the tasks they've been programmed or trained for.
Updates and adaptability
Human VA: Can adapt to changes relatively easily, especially with guidance.
AI VA: Requires software updates or retraining to adapt to new tasks or changes.
A real-life virtual executive assistant will bring deductive reasoning, emotional intelligence, and a non-linear approach to work and life that is impossible for AI to achieve. That’s the bottom line.
The best of both worlds: How can VAs use AI to improve their workflow?
Is there a way that VAs can exist with AI? How can VAs use AI to improve their output?
Virtual Assistants (VAs) can use AI to improve their productivity and efficiency in a few ways. Integrating AI tools into their workflows allows VAs to automate repetitive tasks, offer better insights to clients, and manage their time more effectively.
Zach Bigej an engagement manager team leader at Prialto, agrees that AI can enhance a VA’s work.
“AI allows for VAs to take on more complex/custom processes by giving them a strong starting point that otherwise may not be possible. It can also help save them time by assisting with initial draft creation, data or table formatting, and more. Which allows them to take on more processes with the time saved,” he explains.
“Finally, it can close the gap in cultural knowledge that may be hard to understand otherwise. I've seen it give VAs excellent recommendations for entertainment or dining knowledge to be used with member travel plans.”
Here are 15 ideas for how VAs can use AI:
1. Automated scheduling and calendar management
2. Email Management
3. Data Analysis
4. Task automation
5. Language translation
6. Content creation
Braden Smith, an engagement manager at Prialto, explains how AI helps VAs write initial content drafts.
“One of the VAs I work with uses AI tools like ChatGPT to generate baseline LinkedIn posts for their member, which are then quickly edited for voice and substance and posted on a regular basis to keep their online presence alive and well,” he says.
“Having a real human being involved in the process, however, helps ensure the language we use sounds genuine, life-like, and interesting. Most AI-generated content at this point is easy to spot, and having someone spot improvements will save you from appearing lazy in your outreach or social media posting.”
7. Research assistance
AI-driven tools can quickly scan the internet for specific information, reducing the time a VA might spend on research.
For VAs managing customer support or online inquiries, AI chatbots can handle frequent and basic questions, freeing up time for more complex tasks.
9. Voice-to-text services
Services like Otter.ai can transcribe recorded meetings or notes, which is beneficial for VAs who handle content creation or documentation.
10. Predictive typing
Tools like Gmail’s Smart Compose use AI to predict the next word in a sentence, speeding up typing and email responses.
11. CRM management
AI-integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can predict sales trends, automate follow-up reminders, and categorize contacts, aiding VAs in sales and customer management roles.
Our engagement manager, Braden Smith, explains that AI can help organize platforms like CRMs.
“A VA I work with just learned how to use several AI tools to help their member generate sales leads, create email campaigns, and filter through contact data to keep their CRM clean.”
12. Expense tracking
Apps like Expensify use AI to scan and categorize receipts, making expense tracking and reporting more efficient.
13. Social media management
14. Learning and skill enhancement
AI-driven platforms offer personalized learning paths, helping VAs continuously upgrade their skills based on their learning behavior.
15. Task prioritization
AI can analyze a VA's to-do list and prioritize tasks based on deadlines, importance, and other factors.
AI can handle routine and repetitive tasks, letting VAs focus on more complex tasks that require human judgment, creativity, and intuition. By combining their skills with AI tools, VAs can provide more value to their clients, handle a greater volume of work, and improve their service delivery.
How can Prialto help you tap into the benefits of human VAs and AI?
Prialto is a managed virtual assistant service. This means we take care of all the recruiting, vetting, hiring, training, and management tasks.
You won’t have to worry about dealing with any admin tasks that often arise when working with new VAs. Plus, you can be sure that VAs are using AI in a safe, secure, and responsible way.
Need reliable virtual assistance?
Here are some of the other benefits of working with a Prialto-managed virtual assistant:
- You’ll receive the help of a virtual assistant, account manager, and backup assistants when needed.
- Your VA will undergo background checks and have access to secure facilities, networks, and computers to complete your tasks.
- VAs receive full training on new technology, including AI.
- You’ll be able to find a VA quickly and complete the onboarding process in a matter of days.
- You’ll know that your VA is highly trained and will represent you well.
- Because Prialto has backups for all accounts, services will never be disrupted.
As for pricing, managed virtual assistant services start at around $25 per hour with Prialto.
Prialto is not the right choice for everyone. It’s not the cheapest option, but you’ll see that the quality of support pays off.
Boost your productivity and output by hiring a VA today
When a VA handles time-consuming, repetitive tasks, you can focus on high-value tasks that drive business growth. Soon you’ll save hours each week and wonder how you got anything done before.
You don’t need to choose between AI and a human VA, either. Instead, prioritize hiring a highly-trained and experienced VA who knows how to use AI to speed up their output and efficiency. That way, you experience the best of both worlds.
You’ll love Prialto’s easy sign-up process and virtual assistance solutions.
Start the process of hiring a human VA by filling out this contact form today.
Human VAs vs. AI FAQs
1. Will AI replace human virtual assistants?
While AI is making significant developments in automating several tasks traditionally performed by VAs, like data entry or CRM management, there are many aspects of a human VA’s job that AI struggles with or cannot replicate. For example, AI cannot replace complex decision-making, emotional intelligence, or creativity and strategy.
2. Is a virtual assistant the same as AI?
No, a virtual assistant (VA) and artificial intelligence (AI) are not the same thing.
A Virtual Assistant (Human VA) refers to a human who:
- Provides administrative, technical, or creative support to clients from a remote location.
- Can understand emotions, context, and human nuances.
- Typically communicates with clients via email, phone, or other digital means.
- Can handle a vast array of tasks based on their expertise, from scheduling to content creation, and can adapt and learn new tasks as required by clients.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is:
- A branch of computer science dedicated to creating systems capable of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence. These tasks include problem-solving, pattern recognition, understanding language, and decision-making.
- Does not have emotions or consciousness. Operates based on algorithms, data, and machine learning models.
- Can be integrated into various applications, tools, or platforms.
3. What is the difference between conversational AI and a VA?
Conversational AI and virtual assistants (VAs) refer to different concepts, though they often overlap, especially when referring to digital or AI-powered virtual assistants.
Conversational AI is a technology focused on enabling machines to communicate with humans in a natural, conversational manner.
Human VAs are individuals offering various remote services.
Here’s a breakdown of the differences between conversational AI and human VAs.
- Uses natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and other advanced technologies to understand, process, and generate human language in a way that feels relatively natural.
- Examples include chatbots on websites, messaging platforms, or even more advanced systems like Google's Duplex, which can conduct voice-based conversations.
Virtual assistant (human VA):
- Refers to a human who provides various services to entrepreneurs, businesses, or individuals from a remote location.
- Offers administrative support, scheduling, customer service, content creation, and more.
- Communicates and collaborates via digital channels but brings human judgment, context understanding, and emotional intelligence to their tasks.
4. What are the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant?
Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) has multiple benefits for businesses, entrepreneurs, and busy individuals.
Here are some of the top benefits:
- Increased productivity
- Cost savings
- Access to global talent
- Better work-life balance
- Lower administrative burden