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Lyft rolls out 24-hour driver phone support

System will offer online chat

An illuminated sign appears in a Lyft ride-hailing car in Los Angeles, California, U.S. September 21, 2017. Picture taken September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
An illuminated sign appears in a Lyft ride-hailing car in Los Angeles, California, U.S. September 21, 2017. Picture taken September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

SAN FRANCISCO — Among the biggest frustrations of ride-hailing drivers is finding a way to get in touch with on-demand transportation companies when they have a question or a problem.

And among the biggest problems for on-demand transportation companies is frustrated drivers.

To help keep its drivers content, Lyft announced Monday that in the coming weeks it will roll out 24-hour, nationwide phone support for drivers in English and Spanish, as well as an online chat option. Uber debuted a similar feature in July.

Before phone support, Lyft drivers could only contact the San Francisco company via email. That was a pain for many drivers who preferred to talk to an associate, rather than go back and forth on email.

When the feature launches later this month, the company said, drivers will be able to tap a button inside the Lyft app to call a Lyft associate. Lyft already will have the driver’s details on hand.

An in-app chat option — not unlike the customer service chat function offered on Amazon — also will be available.

“This has been on our road map for a while,” said Mary Winfield, a Lyft vice president. “We do a lot of shadowing with drivers, and we ask what they’re thinking and feeling, and from that we determined that more immediate channels of support were important.”

Lyft’s customer support agents will be located around the world, with the bulk of the team in the United States, and Spanish-speaking partners in Central America and Florida.

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Uber launched a similar feature in July as part of its “180 Days of Change,” a campaign to curry favor with drivers, many of whom have been disgruntled with dwindling wages and a frustrating app experience.

Uber and Lyft are locked in a fierce fight for customers and drivers, with both trying to one-up each other in passenger deals and discounts, as well as features that sweeten the experience for drivers, such as in-app tipping, car wash discounts and driver bonuses.

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