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Companies that customers love are forgiven even when mistakes are made (look at JetBlue.) I’ve had these experiences myself. Have you?

Do you know that restoring a relationship after a problem can grow an even more loyal customer than one who never had any trouble with your company at all? It’s true.

You’ve read on this blog about my love of Costco. Look at what a loyal customer is willing to put up – and how they grow even more loyal.

I became a Costco member in the last few years. My parents are members and took me into the stores several times and it seemed nice. My husband would ask the clerks at the register if Costco was a great place to work – and they all said yes. Then I came across articles about Costco and how they take care for their employees really well – they pay more than any other discount store and the President goes to the stores and greets the employees by name.

A company that invests in its people can be seen and felt by customers. That is no secret. Look at Starbucks. They offer benefits to part-time employees – and have you ever met a nasty barista? No.

Here is the hiccup I had with Costco. It was a pain, but I still love them, and even more than ever.

My mom (again she loved Costco first and is a huge fan of theirs) told me to check out Costco.com when I was looking for a new laptop. I knew I didn’t want a Dell (that is a company that only treated me poorly repeatedly and I refuse to buy from them again) but I didn’t know more than that.

Costco.com had an amazing deal on a refurbished 17 inch laptop. I was hooked. The price was too good to be true. I bought it. It malfunctioned. I returned it. Hoping it was just that one machine (that a 3rd party refurbishes) I bought another laptop – same model. And it had a totally different problem (I’m typing on it now). So I learned that refurbished laptops were a bad idea but went back to buy from Costco.com a third laptop in 3 months. (Yes they refunded me each time – plus refunded shipping cost.)

So here’s the loyalty factor. I have now bought 3 laptops from Costco.com – why keep going back? Because I learned their return policy was the best I’d ever seen. They are truly amazing when it comes to customer service.

Customer advocates go out of their way to protect you. Here’s my example. I hold nothing against Costco (despite the malfunctioning laptops) but I did email them to tell them my problem. And while I knew Costco was better than that, I told them they should watch out selling refurbished laptops if they weren’t top quality. I didn’t want anyone else to get a bad one and think Costco wasn’t top notch.

Also I didn’t blame HP. Why? During these trials I’ve contacted their customer service several times – phone and online chat and got timely helpful assistance (more than I can say for Dell). So I was willing to buy laptop #3 from HP via Costco.com because they will stand by me if the machine conks out and I need yet another one (let’s hope not – this is getting ridiculous).

Customer advocates love to tell others about your company. Just learning how easy it was to return a product to Costco and how they refunded shipping costs – I became an even bigger advocate of theirs. Everyone I tell this story to is amazed. It takes a lot to impress me and I’m fairly skeptical but this company deserves all the praise and success they can get.

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