There are two distinct ways in which a conversational interface works: text conversations and voice. Consumers interact with chatbots using both interfaces on a daily basis, with each having it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages. The big difference between a messenger chatbot and a voice chatbot or a voice assistant is the way people interact with them. 

The major differences

A text based messenger exists in one or more messaging platforms, including features of SMS and web chat messengers. This enables users to interact on a device screen via text or button presses. However, in the case of voice bots, users interact with the bot using their voice in natural language. The voice bot then responds leveraging pre-recorded messages, text-to-speech responses or a mixture of both. 
A voice enabled chatbot can be called upon in many devices such as mobile phones, computers, smart speakers (such Google Home or Alexa), wearables (Apple AirPods) or other IOT devices. These chatbots enable users to accomplish tasks efficiently hands-free. The advantage of using a voice chatbot is its ability to exist on multiple messaging platforms, that can be synchronised across different devices. Some messenger bots are also available via smart speakers – which function like platforms themselves – enabling them to perform dual actions as a voice chatbot as well as text-based bots. This can be seen with Fitness Tips via Google Home.

Key Similarities

Given their differences, the choice of interface depends largely on the purpose and context for a chatbot’s use. While both these platforms enable users to accomplish tasks or find the information they need via natural language, text-based bots can double as a voice enabled chatbot where a user can dictate using their phone’s text-to-speech feature or the bot may be available as a skill integrated into a voice chatbot. While both types of bots depend on NLP to make sense of user input and provide a response, each type has its own set of challenges unique to the interface.  Some of them include text messenger bots understanding shorthand and typos – common to mobile users and voice chatbots understanding different accents across the world. 
One major differentiator between a chatbot and a virtual assistant is its accessibility. A messenger chatbot could be a better choice for consumers who prefer to chat via their mobile phones to get information about different products. Unless voice chatbots exist on a consumer’s phone or computer, interacting with it requires getting a new smart speaker device. However, it is the perfect choice for consumers who prefer to multitask and do not want to use their hands while accomplish a task. For example: It works well for consumers who are looking for the different ingredients for a recipe and can add the items onto the shopping list via voice while doing other tasks. 


Text messaging is especially popular as a mode of communication among Millennials, making messenger chatbots a more natural fit for communication with consumers. The ubiquitous nature of mobile devices further help lower the barrier of entry to the consumers while using a messenger bot. While text messenger bots are popular, voice enabled chatbots are not far behind, gaining popularity in the past year.
Ultimately, the choice of the interface lies with the retailer and the products it offers. Another aspect retailers may consider is the point of contact for the bot and the consumer. Retailers must understand their target audience and tailor make an assistant that can best help them execute the tasks they need to do. 
In the next article, we will explore more about how retailers can choose between Voice enabled chatbots and Messenger bots to enhance their customer experience.