Seth Godin says this in his column today:

If you define “best customer” as the customer who pays you the most, then I guess it’s not surprising that the reflex instinct is to charge them more. After all, they’re happy to pay. But what if you define “best customer” as the person who brings you new customers through frequent referrals, and who sticks with you through thick and thin? That customer, I think, is worth far more than what she might pay you in any one transaction. In fact, if you think of that customer as your best marketer instead, it might change everything.

I received an email this morning from one of my clients, who had just opened an invoice for our services last month. In it, I’d billed in fractional hours as I normally do. She said:

You are so good to us, you could have easily charged us for a full hour– we would understand.  Your honesty is refreshing.

I explained that I only bill for the time we actually spend on projects. She replied:

Please know that if you change your mind we are open to pay you more for your time working on our stuff.  We know it can be time consuming and a pain.  We really appreciate all your great work for us all these years.

So yeah, it’s not about the dollars, or about the opportunity I have here to say, “Hmm, I could round up to the full hour and make a little more on the deal.” It’s about the fact that I have a loyal client who I enjoy working with, and who I know will always say great things about my company to her friends and business associates.

That’s one of many reasons I think my company has been successful.