Some people say that they learn from their customers. Others, like Elon Musk,  show that he not only learns from them, but acts on their ideas.

Recently, Musk “made good” on a customer idea posted on twitter and went from ““from idea to execution in 6 days” because the problem identified was so important. (Active Social Media CEO’s and their success are another topic altogether).

Not only did Musk execute, but he implemented policy. In an elegant solution that evolved from his customers complaint that users who recharged their Tesla’s at charging stations in plazas left them there needlessly, Musk created a “fairer” system.  Tesla users who prevent others a chance to charge will now have to pay for the privilege.  However, Musk did not stop there. He took it a step further, recognizing the squatters are also his customers, and created an auto-notification to users that were fully charged and now incurring fees.

Not all of us have the resources to act so quickly, but it makes you pause and wonder that given the opportunity, would you? Does it really matter in the big picture? Sure, with social media and all of the other channels, it’s difficult. We’re ALL too busy. But if you’re not active with your customers in all channels, are you actually listening?  Take it from me, if you’re not listening, you should be, and yes, it does matter. Your users are some of the voices that matter most. The other voices to listen to of course, are your front line employees. They have a front line view to the most intimate moments with your brand.

Reflecting on our own practices, we can humbly nod and acknowledge that we too, in Musk-esque fashion are listening and responding to our customers, who come in as many forms as they engage us. Some are direct customers who live in our homes, others are those who rent.  Others are our partners, trades and last but certainly not least, the employees across our Group of Companies. Some ideas have led to tangible results that you can see, touch and feel, while others are not so concrete and are are seen best through conceptual changes or even behavioural examples through mind shifting. Here are five quick examples of how we’ve specifically, listened, learned and delivered.


Del Rentals – We realized long ago that that not everyone chooses condo ownership but want to invest in the experience and lifestyle.  Others purchase our homes as investments without the intention of moving in themselves. This is why over 30 years ago, we created a way for people to experience the Tridel brand in multiple ways. Renting is merely one of them.

PETiquette – The definition of families is changing. Four legged friends are increasingly becoming part of our family composition. Over 57% of Canadian Households own pets. Canada has approximately 5.9 million dogs and 7.9 million cats.  It’s changed the design of buildings in some cases (pet stations / durable materials at access/egress, designated space to run) but has also come with the necessity to education both pet and non-pet residents on behavioural expectations to maintain a comfortable living space for all.

Tridel Petiquette

Ventless Dryers – Increasing awareness and concern about our environment isn’t just something we’re focused on, it’s something our customers are also conscious of. A winning combination of concern between ourselves and a savvy homeowner allowed for a pilot program in which we were able to experiment with a Whirlpool ventless dryer and assess its performance. Ventless dryers are much more energy efficient (and when required, more space efficient) and don’t require a vent to pump the exhaust to the exterior. (FYI – Switzerland has deemed vented dryers to be illegal since 2012 but they’re still the most popular in North America). These collaborative efforts are genius and allow us to really learn from how people live in our homes.

Key-osk – one of the things we always ask ourselves is how easy and convenient it is to do business with us? Not to worry if you don’t self reflect, your customers will be surely  let you know. One way we added convenience for our customers that are either selling their homes or thinking of buying a resale in one of our communities is the key-osk – a convenient way to provide access to homes, whether during the buying, renting or selling process. The front desk isn’t your best option to transfer keys for many reasons… but  this adds efficiency to the process and removes the middle (wo)man. Imagine when we’re key-less! Almost there btw.


Design – In 2005, the Ontario government committed to develop five accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In 2013, Ontario amended the Building Code, effective January 1, 2015. These amendments were intended to enhance accessibility in newly constructed buildings and existing buildings that will be renovated. They were used in conjunction with Design of Public Spaces Standard (2012) to finalize a built standard for the built environment. The right to barrier free design and access is a human right.
These standards set the minimum. Something that we always try to exceed. We created a condo challenge with Luke Anderson of Stopgap to help us identify easy changes with big impact that we could do within a vertical environment. Things such as guest suite design, timing on elevator door closures, height of concierge desks are just a few of the very small changes that we can easily make to deliver a big impact (and better experience).

Other design changes we’re looking forward introducing in response to customers is the addition of more family friendly communities. Islington Terrace in Etobicoke is a great example of a community that is addressing the deficiency and need in the marketplace. Amenities such as a basketball court, splash pool, outdoor children’s play zone, swimming pool and indoor children’s play room will delight families that are choosing vertical lifestyle.

Children’s Play Room Islington Terrace

Express PDI – We have the luxury of loyal customers. A large percentage of them are raving fans that will only buy Tridel, and they will often buy more than once. This allows for ease of mind, comfort and trust, as it does in any family with close relationships. While we have processes that are generous in time and adhere to legal requirements when it comes to delivering something as significant as a new home, we learned that some people don’t have the same needs (or wants) in terms of time or information . Without compromising the experience in any way, we were able to deliver the same experience in a condensed format and created an Express Pre Delivery Inspection for those that wish.

These are some of the ways we can listen and respond and improve. Some are larger than others, but they all deliver the message that in some small way, we are listening and learning. It sounds simple, but in a world where we all seem so busy that our setting is often on auto-pilot perhaps it’s not such a “mini” effort after all.

Stephen Covey says it perfectly:
Listening with the intent to understand.

It takes a big person, and it takes a big company. One with no ego. One that seeks to understand.  With that, comes an innate understanding that some of the best ideas may not always come from within.

Mr. Musk recently just adopted another marketing idea from a Grade 5 student.

Feature Image – Tridel Islington Terrace

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