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Lyft ups its driver game, adds 24/7 phone support

In its bid to gain on rival Uber, the ride-hailing company updates its driver app with new features like immediate assistance.

Lyft says it's been listening to driver requests.

In its push to be the nice guy, Lyft is rolling out new driver initiatives.

The ride-hailing company said Monday it's adding features like 24/7 phone support, faster online assistance and Spanish language support. Lyft said these new additions came at drivers' requests.

"It's really been around listening and continually listening to our drivers," said Mary Winfield, Lyft's vice president of Trust and Safety, who is tasked with improving driver and passenger experience. "For many of our drivers, they want more immediate support."

Lyft has seen a surge in ridership over the last few months after it's rival Uber has been embroiled in scandals. But now, as Uber is cleaning up its act with a new CEO and initiatives like 180 days of change to help drivers, Lyft may need to work harder to gain on its competitor.

Compared with Uber, Lyft has long been the small dog in the ride-hailing world. It's received $2.6 billion in venture funding and is valued at $7.5 billion, whereas Uber has received $12.9 billion and is valued at $68 billion.

But, Lyft has quietly amassed US market share over the last year. Since January, it's launched in dozens of new cities and now is nearly as ubiquitous as its rival. Lyft is currently available in 49 states, with South Dakota being the lone state without the ride-hailing service. Lyft is also reportedly eyeing international expansion.

"We are just so focused on our game," Winfield said. "We don't want to get distracted by others."

Lyft currently has more than 700,000 US drivers and is known for being more driver-friendly than Uber. For instance, it introduced in-app tipping and immediate driver payout years before Uber rolled out such features.

"We did tipping before tipping was cool," Winfield said. "To date we've had over $250 million dollars in tips that have been paid out."

Earlier this year, Lyft added features like scheduled rides and modes in which drivers can add their own destination while picking up passengers. Uber has recently added similar features too.

Lyft's new support updates are focused on giving drivers immediate assistance, something that's important if they get into trouble while on the road. Beforehand, if drivers had a question they wouldn't get a response for a couple of hours. Now, they'll be able to talk to someone immediately.

"If you have engaged drivers and they're happy, they do the same thing for passengers," Winfield said.

Lyft's new updates are slated to roll out over the next few weeks.

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