Hyderabad: Taxi aggregator Uber Technologies Inc. opened its first centre of excellence in Asia in Hyderabad as the San Francisco-based company centralizes several of India operations at a single location in its third biggest market.
The facility will have staff providing round the clock specialized support for “critical incidents that require immediate attention.”
Uber, the most valued startup on the planet, was banned in several Indian states after one of its driver-partners raped a female passenger in New Delhi in December 2014. The bans have been lifted after Uber and its competitors, Ola and TaxiForSure made improvements in technology and promised to conduct extensive background verifications of drivers. To assuage safety concerns of passengers they introduced features to allow pre-selected friends and family members to track a rider’s location
“Safety is very, very important to us,” Amit Jain, president of Uber India, said at a media conference to mark the inauguration of the facility. “We think about safety in three ways – before the ride, during the ride and after the ride… We continue to innovate and invest in safety features.”
Eventually 500 customer service specialists speaking multiple local languages will provide 24X7 assistance to riders and drivers over phone, email and social media to address issues from across the country.
Uber operates in 26 cities in India.
The Hyderabad facility will be Uber’s fifth centre of excellence globally. It operates two CoEs in the US—in Chicago and Phoenix, and two in Europe—Limerick (Ireland) and Krakow (Poland). This is its first in Asia, home to its second and third biggest markets, China and India respectively. Started in 2009, Uber has operations in 361 cities in 66 countries.
Uber has recruited 30% of the workforce, or 150 employees, for the Hyderabad CoE over the last four months. A total of 500 jobs will be created at the facility by the end of 2017, executives said.
Uber, which has committed to invest $1 billion in India, trails domestic player Ola (operated by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.) in the Indian market. Jain said Uber has 40% market share in the taxi aggregator space in the country.