AI vs Human Virtual Assistants: Why the Human Touch Matters

February 27, 2023
5 min

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all around us, and it's changing the way we work. From Siri to Alexa and ChatGPT, AI technology is taking over a stream of tasks. Still, while this technology is fast, accurate, and consistently rational, it often falls short in areas where human skills and abilities are necessary. And it’s exactly these abilities that humans possess and which make us effective. For this, the technology’s larger impact will be in complementing and augmenting human capabilities, not replacing them. For example, how often have you yelled "representative!" into the void during an automated customer service call?

While AI can manage basic customer service inquiries and complaints, it may not fully understand and empathize with the customer's emotions. A big reason why customers often prefer to speak with a real person who can listen to their concerns, provide personalized solutions, and make them feel valued. Interacting with automated systems that can't feel, anticipate, or evaluate changing situations is aggravating, and business professionals understand that certain tasks require a personal touch that AI simply can't provide. So, as AI makes its way into the world of personalized assistance for business executives and professionals, let’s explore the pros and cons of using this technology and the benefits of having human help instead.

Before we dive into comparisons, let’s review the role of a personal assistant.

What’s the Role of a Personal Assistant?

From administrative and organizational support to managing personal errands, the number of hats a personal assistant wears has no bounds.

Personal assistants aim to help business professionals save time and be more productive by taking care of routine tasks allowing them to focus on higher-priority projects. A great personal assistant should have the following characteristics:

  • Strong organizational skills to be able to manage multiple tasks and priorities efficiently.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including communicating clearly and effectively with various people and cultures.
  • Discretion and confidentiality because they often have access to sensitive information, so they must be trustworthy.
  • Flexibility and adaptability to adapt to changing priorities and be comfortable with a fast-paced work environment.
  • Attention to detail to ensure accuracy and efficiency.
  • Strong problem-solving skills to identify and solve problems quickly and effectively.
  • Positive attitude and willingness to go above and beyond to support their employer.
  • Proactivity to anticipate their employer's needs taking the initiative to complete tasks without being asked.

The Pros of AI for Virtual Assistants

  1. Increased Efficiency: AI-powered virtual assistants can automate repetitive tasks such as scheduling appointments, sending out emails, and managing calendars.
  2. Around-The-Clock Availability: They don't require breaks or vacations and can perform multiple tasks simultaneously.
  3. Consistency: They follow a set of rules and protocols.
  4. Accessibility: AI-powered virtual assistants can be accessed from anywhere, making them an ideal solution for professionals collaborating with colleagues in different time zones.

The Cons of AI for Virtual Assistants

  1. Limited Flexibility: They cannot respond to unexpected situations, make nuanced decisions, or think creatively, essential qualities in a personal assistant.
  2. Lack of Personal Touch: They cannot build relationships with clients or understand the nuances of interpersonal communication, which are important in certain administrative tasks.
  3. Limited Adaptability: They are limited by the algorithms and rules that govern their behavior and cannot adapt to changes in the business environment or new situations that require creative problem-solving.
  4. Data Privacy Concerns: AI-powered virtual assistants have access to sensitive information, which can be a concern for businesses. There is always a risk of a data breach, leading to a loss of confidential information and damaging the business's reputation.

Why do you need a human by your side?

While AI can automate routine administrative tasks such as data entry and report generation, it may not be able to solve complex problems that require creative thinking and decision-making skills. Instead, humans can analyze and synthesize information, consider multiple perspectives, and develop innovative solutions that AI cannot match. And the reality is that every business faces these unexpected challenges regularly. Furthermore, AI is limited by the data and algorithms it receives. If the data is biased, then the results will also be biased. On the other hand, human professionals can use their intuition and critical thinking skills to recognize and challenge biased assumptions and decisions.

The demand for social and emotional skills is rising in the age of AI, and business professionals must focus on hiring team members with social and emotional intelligence to stay competitive. This means real people who are adaptable, dependable, creative, able to respond to changes in the business environment to come up with innovative solutions and can use interpersonal skills to build relationships with clients and colleagues.

If you’re looking to create a more efficient and effective workflow at a manageable cost, you need Sally, backed by real people who can help you at every touchpoint of your operation in a way that works for you.

Get matched with a reliable, experienced, and friendly professional virtual assistant and start delegating your first task today.