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TECHCRUNCH

“Last year was pretty hard, I’m not gonna lie” says Peter Deng, Uber’s head of rider experience. But as part of new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s push to rebrand Uber around safety, “we’ve seen the company shift to more listening”.

That focus on hearing users’ concerns prompted today’s change. Have a bad Uber ride when you’re busy and you might neglect to rate the driver or accidentally rush through giving them 5 stars. Forcing users to wait until a ride ends to provide feedback deprives them of a sense of control while decreasing the number of accurate data points Uber has to optimize its service.

I had just this experience last month, leading me to tweet that Uber should let us rate trips mid-ride:

Uber apparently felt similarly, so it’s making an update. Starting today, Uber users can rate their trip mid-ride, providing a star rating with categorized and written feedback, plus a compliment or tip at any time instead of having to wait for the trip to end. “Every day 15 million people take a ride on Uber. If you can capture incrementally more and better feedback . . . we’re going to use that feedback to make the service better” says Deng.

Specifically, the data will be used to “recognize top quality drivers . . . through a new program launching in June”, Uber tells me. “We’re going to be celebrating the drivers that provide really awesome service” Deng says, though he declined to say whether that celebration will include financial rewards, access to extra driver perks, or just a pat on the back.

But Uber will also now use the feedback options that appear when you give a less-than-perfect rating to tune the technology on its backend. So that way, if you say that the pickup was the issue, it might be classifed as a “PLE – pickup location error”, and that data gets routed to the team that improves exactly where drivers are told to scoop you up.

The launch follows the unveiling of Uber’s new in-app Safety Center last month that gives users access to insurance info, riding tips, and emergency 911 button. I asked if reminding users to buckle their seat belts would be in that Safety Center and Uber tells me it’s now planning to add info about buckling up.

After a year of culture and legal issues, Uber needs to win back users who deleted it. Enhanced safety and feedback could help earn their respect.