Uber wants to further simplify the process of booking cabs on its platform in India. The can-sharing platform wants to allow users to now book cabs through calls and SMS in local languages. The move is aimed at making it easier for older generation to get on Uber. This will also come in handy when you are stuck in a place without 4G connection. The company is reportedly piloting a call centre for riders to book a cab. This will be the first time that Uber is enabling offline booking after starting as an app-only service.

Uber to get call and SMS-based booking option

Uber has avoided a call centre-based booking system so far to curtail costs. However, it is now preparing to engage by setting up local call centres to attract regional customers. The transportation network company has a call centre for drivers. It also has similar operation for emergency situations, where a rider gets call back if they press the SOS button on the app. The new plan will help those who are unable to navigate the app and are unable to do online booking.

“We are trying to play on accessibility and allow people to use local languages to maybe send an SMS or a call to book a ride as opposed to just using the app,” Vidhya Duthaluru, Director, Engineering, who leads Uber’s Customer Obsession team in India, told BusinessLine. “It is not just the local language access but it also allows access to older people who are not comfortable navigating apps.”

Ola, Uber’s biggest rival in the country, started operations with a call centre number in India. It shut the facility when Uber entered the country to focus on efficiency of operations. Uber now seems to be taking a page from its local rival in the country. Duthaluru says the new calling and SMS option will bring in section of society that has been excluded so far. The Hindu BusinessLine reports that the service will be available only to a select number of users. The company wants to ensure that its call centre costs do not go through the roof as it adds calls and SMS to the network.

Uber, which became the darling of Venture Capital Firms, has struggled to turn profitable. The company listed itself recently but it did not go down well. The company’s shares have tumbled significantly and have now found support. It is estimated to have a market cap of $75 billion, which is much lower than previous estimate of $100 billion. In order to strengthen its business, Uber is looking to add more commute options. However, simplifying booking in markets like India could pay dividends and drive demand.