Uber innovates in Delhi with AI-powered chatbot

Ride hailing company Uber is innovating with a new AI-powered chatbot which enables customers in India to order rides via WhatsApp, creating what it calls a seamless booking experience.

 

Developed by cloud communication platform Infobip, the chatbot has been built and deployed on the WhatsApp for Business platform using Infobip’s chatbot building platform Answers. The WhatsApp to Ride (WA2R) experience is now available for Uber riders across Delhi and its surrounding area, one of Uber’s top cities globally by volume. The launch comes after a pilot in Lucknow in December last year where Uber received a significant proportion of ride requests from new users in what it said is a demonstration of potential product market fit.

 

By 2025, 80% of customer service organisations will have abandoned native mobile apps in favour of omnichannel messaging to deliver a better customer experience, according to Gartner. Now more than ever, rather than trying to tempt users away from their favoured apps, business and brands must meet them where they are.

 

“We want to make it as easy as possible for our new sets of consumers to take an Uber trip, and to do that we need to meet them on platforms they are comfortable with,” said Abhilekh Kumar, Director, Business Development, Uber India South Asia. “Our partnership with WhatsApp enables that, giving riders a new way to book a ride through a simple, familiar, and trusted channel. We are pleased to co-create the chatbot feature with Infobip for an altogether new customer experience while booking an Uber ride.”

 

“Customers are increasingly moving away from an app-only approach,” said Silvio Kutić, CEO of Infobip. “Instead, customers want to communicate with brands using their preferred method. So, businesses need to be where their customers are and provide an end-to-end customer journey within the channels their customers use. We’re delighted to have played a role in building this new WhatsApp chatbot solution for Uber and look forward to seeing its impact now and in the future as its rollout continues. We are even more thrilled as we are the global cloud communication platform provider to both the companies involved – Uber and WhatsApp.”

 

“After a successful implementation of the ‘WhatsApp to ride’ experience in Lucknow, we are excited to expand WhatsApp’s partnership with Uber and launch this service for users in Delhi,” added Ravi Garg, Director, WhatsApp Partnerships, India. “The simplicity of ride-booking experience within the WhatsApp interface has helped Uber acquire new riders and we look forward to supporting them in their growth trajectory. Uber and businesses across sectors are leveraging the WhatsApp Business Platform to build a variety of scaled custom solutions that help advance customer convenience and enable richer customer engagement.”

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Book of the Month*

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

By Dr Christian Busch
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

Chance encounters, or strokes of fortune, feature in countless stories of business success. This book looks beneath the surface, reveals and teaches the mindset that can transform pure chance into opportunity. The author is director of the Global Economy Program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

The author says “This is a book about the interactions of coincidence, human ambition and imagination”. In the above example: finding the wallet is the coincidence; ambition is the desire to make something of the discovery; add imagination and you open up a whole menu of possibilities: from spending spree to earning a reputation for honesty – or even making a wealthy friend.

Business is typically forged on human ambition and imagination, but early success often feeds an appetite for control – and “control freaks” can be blind to the opportunities thrown up by the unexpected. They only see chance events as distractions. If plans go awry, they may blame the failure on “bad luck” rather than admit their own inflexible attitude.

The author himself admits to being “a German who is used to planning” and prone to feel anxious when something unexpected happens. That makes him an ideal teacher, because he has worked hard to discover and analyse the mindset that enables one to “connect the dots” and cultivate serendipity. He presents a goldmine of examples from science, business and life where an apparent mishap or failure lead to a breakthrough.

Indeed, studies suggest that around 50% of major scientific breakthroughs emerge as the result of accidents or coincidences. A well-known example is Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, launching the whole field of antibiotics. Other examples include X-rays, nylon, microwave ovens, rubber, Velcro, Viagra and Post-it Notes – where would we be without these!

The book goes beyond the ability to recognise and respond to opportunities in chaos, but the subtitle – The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck – is actually a bit misleading. True, he does show ways to develop better fortune, but it would be better to call it “inviting” or “encouraging” good luck. For example, he suggests better ways to start a conversation with a stranger – ways that will make it more likely to lead to chance connections or shared interests.

The publishers may have chosen the word “creating” to make the book appeal to the human desire to control – for control freaks are exactly the readership that would benefit the most from this book’s wisdom and practical advice.

For the rest of us, it offers a great way to rediscover the sense of play that is so important in life – and too often lost in business.

 

“Following the success of The Serendipity Mindset hardback, a paperback edition has also now been launched under the title “Connect the Dots”.

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