Work every angle to stay on top of your customers’ needs

Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” If you’re trying to improve a situation, having empathy is critical because you must fully understand the situation before you can truly improve it.’s dedication to make car shopping easier motivated us to launch an internal crusade nicknamed “Get Your Boots On.”

Through this program, we are constantly finding new ways to connect our employees with our customers — both car shoppers and business partners — in order to better understand their perspectives, preferences and pain points.

The empathy gained allows us to better meet customer needs.

Never stop talking
Not only do we talk with car shoppers every day through online forums and a free live help line, but since 2009, our consumer research team has personally interviewed over 20,000 automotive shoppers to learn from their shopping experiences.

We also send employees into car dealerships to witness the car shopping process firsthand so they can experience that empathy. They return to their jobs inspired to develop even better products and tools to help solve customer pain points.

Through “dealership takeovers,” experts answer questions while staffing an “Expert Bar” at participating dealerships.

We’ve found that during takeovers, the dealership’s salespeople rely on our Expert Bar as much as the shoppers do.

Having physically on-site fosters trust and makes the car shopping process easier for both shoppers and dealers, and gives us a close look at what actually happens during car shopping transactions.

Separately,’s “job swap” program puts employees into dealerships for days at a time to shadow dealership personnel through the sales, Internet, service and finance departments.

That experience allows our people to touch, feel, see, hear and even smell what happens in a dealership environment — so that we are in a better place to help address them, and to help set realistic expectations among car shoppers.

Extend a helping hand also reciprocates the hospitality by opening our doors to dealer partners who want to better understand our perspective on how the car shopping experience can be improved.

So far two dealerships (Longo Toyota and Cerritos Infiniti) have accepted our invitation to send their team members to spend time in our environment in Santa Monica.

Dealership personnel worked with the live help, marketing, operations and editorial teams to get an insider’s view on how we assess and serve car shoppers’ needs every day.

We have also looked outside our own industry for inspiration. In recent years, employees have visited the headquarters of Zappos, FedEx and other innovative leaders who have shared best practices and inspired our thinking.

“Getting our boots on” has been an invaluable element of our company’s development and is quickly becoming part of our DNA. Are there ways that you can encourage your team to get their boots on? ●