In India, Uber now lets you book a ride on WhatsApp
Ridesharing company Uber is testing a novel way for booking a ride with them: through a WhatsApp chatbot! For now, Uber will only roll out the feature in Delhi, India. The company wants to make it easier for their Indian customers to use their services.
What do you do when you want to call an Uber? You use the Uber app, of course! Now, however, there is also another option. At least for customers in Delhi, India. Last month Uber introduced a new way to book a ride in the National Capitol Region: WhatsApp. We exlain why, and how it works!
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Uber launches WhatsApp chatbot for ordering rides in Delhi
Uber users in Delhi, India can now call a ride directly on WhatsApp. The ridesharing company launched the new option in August, after testing it first in Lucknow in 2021. With it, people can now use contact Uber on WhatsApp, and call a ride using an official Uber chatbot. The chatbot supports English and Hindi as languages.
As of now, the WhatsApp option is only available in Delhi. Of course, customers can also still use the Uber app to get a ride.
Why did Uber do this?
It might seem counter-intuitive for a tech company like Uber, who has put a lot of resources into developing a top notch native app, to move to an external service like WhatsApp.
However, switching to WhatsApp makes the service more accessible to a larger number of users. First, mobile internet infrastructure in India has its shortcomings, and makes it tricky to use a service like Uber that requires uninterrupted high-speed internet to work.
That’s why back in 2018 Uber launched its lite app, a simple version of the rider app that saved space on the phone, but could also save data by disabling the map function. Uber Lite was specifically designed for markets like India. Even with this version, though, Uber seemed to struggle to get Indian users to download the app.
At the same time, India is the country with the largest number of WhatsApp users in the world. People use WhatsApp for pretty much everything and anything, from shopping groceries to ordering food to checking opening times at their local mall. So it only makes sense for Uber to move their service into the digital space Indians are already using.
We recognise that to keep expanding access to our services, we need to meet users where they are. And in India, that means WhatsApp, one of India’s most popular chat apps.
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How to use Uber on WhatsApp
There are three ways to book an Uber ride on WhatsApp.
- Send the message “Hi” to Ubers Indian WhatsApp number (+91 7292000002).
- Use a click-to-WhatsApp link.
- Scan a QR code.
Once you end up in the WhatsApp chat, you will be asked to provide your pick-up and drop-off locations. Just like in the Uber app, you will still be notified about the driver’s arrival time and estimated cost of the ride in advance. You will also receive automated safety information, such as the driver’s name or license plate of the vehicle.
Riders get access to the same safety features and insurance protection as those who book trips via the Uber app directly. They will be informed of the name of the driver and license plate of the driver on booking; be able to track the location of the driver en route to the pickup point and be able to speak to the driver anonymously using a masked number.
In addition, the WhatsApp chatbot will provide further information, like the Uber emergency help service.
The new service can be accessed by new users or existing users who only registered with their phone number on Uber.
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