The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitisation across all industries and has left no sector untouched. Uber, one of the most popular ride-hailing companies in India, had to virtualise its Green Light centers to help assist its driver-partners amidst the pandemic. Pallavi Rao, staff software engineer, Uber tells us more about how the company dealt with the virtualisation of GLs.
DQ: Tell us why and how your GLs were virtualized?
Pallavi Rao: During the early days of the pandemic last year, we had to close our physical Green Light centers (GL), across cities where Uber’s driver partners would go to get assistance. But to assist them with continued high level service we quickly added video calling and screen sharing capabilities to our support platform. As cities opened up, our GLs started to become operational again and drivers now began returning to GLs. In such a scenario, we had to ensure that both partners and our support staff followed safety protocols. To do so, designed an appointment system and launched it globally to ensure no crowding at the help centers. Also, we built a proactive deflection mechanism, which would decide if the issue the partner was hoping to get resolved could be solved via phone so that a trip to GL center could be avoided. Our solutions ensured drivers got help faster without visiting GLs and even if they did, their wait times there were reduced significantly.
DQ: How do the virtualized GLs function and ensure customer satisfaction?
Pallavi Rao: Uber ensured that driver partners were able to get help when needed in spite of the closure of some of our GL centers due to COVID. Drivers also realized that the appointment system was safer for them as well. Further, by deflecting appointments to phone calls, where applicable, we ensured that they got the support they needed without having to visit the GL center. This helped save their time and effort. With our pilot launch of virtual GLs in the US and Canada, we have also collected feedback from driver partners and it indicates that they are happy with the virtualization.
DQ: Customers rely on human interactions to get their problems resolved. Can the same level of satisfaction be achieved through automation?
Pallavi Rao: Yes. There are certain issues that are better resolved with face-to-face interaction. With the video calling and app-screen sharing capabilities that we have added, the virtual interaction is comparable to an in-person interaction. In fact, it is better and it saves the partner a trip to the GL center. Automation is applied only on select issue types that don’t need human interaction. Also, with automation the time taken to solve an issue is lesser, so customers get their issues resolved sooner.
DQ: Post the COVID-19 pandemic, what are the three most important focus areas for Uber from a tech standpoint?
Pallavi Rao: The three key areas we’ve prioritised are:
- To ensure that our customers have an end-to-end defect-free experience and subsequently improve our automated insights and system feedback loop.
- Use machine learning to make accurate predictive decisions across all businesses.
- Continue to make our systems more robust, reliable and scalable.