Approximately 80 percent of accidents and 16 percent of highway fatalities are caused by distracted drivers (National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration [NHTSA]), and cell phone use is the second largest cause of distracted driving (Safe Start).
So it’s no surprise that half of the United States has firm, hands-free laws in place to promote safe driving, and all but two have laws about drivers’ use of mobile phones while operating a vehicle.
Manufacturers have committed resources to safe driving with technology investments, such as Bluetooth, that leverage a smartphone’s voice recognition features. In fact, according to Frost and Sullivan research, by 2020 the industry is poised to commit more than $80 billion to advanced tech. Dealerships are doing their part, too, providing training to customers on Bluetooth and other smartphone features once they’ve made a purchase — the number one customer training topic covered before vehicle delivery.
But some dealers have overlooked one simple but important place where hands-free can be especially helpful in the sales process — their phone tree. Consider this: Seventy-three percent of calls to dealerships come from mobile phones, which means there’s a good chance many of them are being made while someone is driving.
Yet, many phone trees, or interactive voice response (IVR) systems, still require customers to enter an extension through the use of their phone’s keypad, as in “not hands-free.”
Some vehicles allow the caller to press the number from their steering wheel, toggling phone entries from the steering wheel. While a noble effort, this is still a distraction and a contributor to accidents, especially when you realize it only takes three seconds to distract a driver enough to cause a crash. It’s an interim bridge, but not a substitute for voice commands and communication.
Is it time to update your phone tree to accept voice commands? Progressive dealers are promoting safe driving by upgrading their phone tree capabilities, starting with greetings such as, “Thank you for calling Autobahn Nissan. I can route your call to four extensions. Please say, ‘service,’ ‘sales,’ ‘parts’ or ‘operator.’”
Here’s an added benefit: It reduces hang-ups of those customers who can’t make a selection because they’re on their phones. Safety and more connections!
Let’s adopt great technology, move to voice recognition, decrease customer effort and promote safe driving.