Your Coffee vs. My Time

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Have you ever eaten at Einstein Bros Bagels? I have a major weakness for their pizza bagel - just cheese (no pepperoni) on honey whole wheat. So, so good.

Just last week, when handing me my receipt at the register, they offered a free coffee in exchange for my completing a survey (directions on the receipt). I smiled and took the receipt.

I've visited several times since. Same offer from the cashier. Same response from me... until this morning. This time, I challenged her. I said, "The time it takes me to fill out your survey is worth more to me than a coffee. I'd rather just pay the two bucks." She replied, "yeah, most people don't." She was the furthest thing from a strategic marketing decision-maker, but here she was on the front lines interacting with paying customers whose opinions aren't making it back to the main office.

Now more than ever, business people weigh the value of their time just like money. If you want customers to provide input and info, reward them in a way that they perceive as greater in value than their time. That's a challenge.

Einstein Bros Bagels should take advantage of the time it takes for me to wait for them to make my pizza bagel. Why not position a touch screen in between the order counter and the checkout counter? If I answer five multiple-choice survey questions, I get my coffee free.

Waiting = My time wasted.

Why not reward me for it, collect my input, and build loyalty?

All this requires is that someone in marketing at corporate receive the valuable feedback that cashiers hear daily. In their logo, the Einstein Bros are looking through the holes of bagels like telescopes. Maybe they should put the bagels to their ears?