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Cora – helping more customers than ever, with no wait time

As our AI-powered assistant Cora becomes a growing digital influence in the way we serve customers, we look back at her career highlights since she started life five years ago and look ahead at how she’ll develop.

Available 24/7 on more channels than ever before, Cora continues to be the first point of contact for many retail, business and commercial customers.

The early days

Cora was originally introduced in 2017 to answer simple questions from retail and business customers. At launch, Cora was handling around 1,000 chats a month and was able to answer questions on 25 topics.

Fast forward a year and Cora was receiving positive customer feedback, able to answer 228 questions and was learning all the time. In 2018, Cora was introduced on Bankline, giving our commercial customers a digital self-serve option.

Amanda Scott, Contact Channels Lead, Commercial & Institutional, said, ‘Cora has been hugely successful so far. I remember the first commercial customer conversation – today she’s helping customers in a growing number of essential areas every month.’

Four years on

By 2021, Cora’s overall reach had expanded, answering more than 10.5 million customer queries since launching just four years earlier as the UK’s first banking “chatbot’.

Today, Cora remains busy supporting customers across the bank with their needs, holding around 1.4 million conversations every month.

For Retail Banking, the most popular journeys consist of “I don’t recognise this transaction?’, “How do I change my address?’ and “How do I cancel a transaction?’ For business and commercial customers, among the most common topics are account opening and administration, payments and cards enquiries, and security and fraud support. Colleagues spend an average of nine minutes on these queries – so Cora is saving many thousands of hours across the franchises each month and customers get practical support without waiting for someone.

Malcolm Bennett, Director, Commercial Mid-Market, said, ‘Cora is increasingly becoming our first line of contact for customers with simple tasks. As our customer base is becoming more comfortable with technology, the need for a 24/7 service model to help with simple tasks is no longer a nice to have but a need to have, and this is where Cora comes in. Encouraging our customers to use Cora will help them save time and enable them to interact with the bank at their convenience.’

Cora’s ongoing development

Cora’s creation and development over the years has been a collaborative effort, with many teams across the bank involved at every stage in evolving, testing and implementation.

Today, Cora’s ongoing development includes providing more personalised and transactional journeys for customers across their lifecycle. The automation of everyday tasks such as changing an address, updating business details and cancelling cheques is helping us to delight customers.

Kartik Malla, AI Lead, Commercial & Institutional, said, ‘part of Cora’s development has been shaped by customers who were influenced by AI assistants and personalised experiences elsewhere. Their expectancy has changed from, explain how to do X, to, do X for us. So, our innovation is focused on building more transactional features and functionality into Cora to allow her to do certain tasks raised by the customer.’

What next for Cora?

Paul Weller, Head of New Customer Propositions & Conversational AI, Services, said, ‘in a relatively short time, we’ve developed and strengthened our own internal technical capabilities and thinking around AI across the bank. We have a clear vision for Cora over the next 5 years. Cora will transform self-service by becoming a full virtual assistant and a personal concierge.

‘We will enable proactive insights, personalised product recommendations and help customers stay on top of their finances; connecting them to the best people when it matters. Cora will continue to be the first point of contact and a central point of navigation for our customers.’

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