How Much Would You Pay for a Fortune Cookie?

Let’s face it, you don’t order Chinese food in hopes that you’ll be “just full enough.”  When ordering for two, you order enough for six.  When we pick up our order, my wife and I like to count how many fortune cookies they’ve put in.  We’ve never asked, but our theory is that they judge the size of the order, make an estimation of how many people are eating and then drop in those crunchy little treats accordingly.  After our latest round of gorging, I thought to myself, “I always look forward to the fortune cookie, but would I still want them if I had to pay for them?  Or, would I miss them if they were gone?

When I think about the places I go and the interactions I have on a day to day basis, I can pretty easily start to identify all the different “fortune cookies.”  The complimentary company branded pens at the auto shop, the toothpaste and toothbrush baggy from the dentist, the pre dinner bread basket, heck, even the mini television screen at the gas station pump showing me how to properly stretch if I’ve been sitting in my car for too long.  All of these add ons help create and drive the experience of that event or moment, but again, would I still want them if I had to pay for them?

As I review these in my mind, I think my answer most often is no.  I would not be willing to pay for these extras, yet at the same time, I would miss them if they were gone.  In this gap between  what we want and what we are willing to pay lies an opportunity to elevate the overall experience.  At the end of the day, if I am not happy with the service itself, there is no amount of free pens that will prevent me from switching auto shops (for example).  However, if I am relatively happy with the service AND I really enjoy the perks of being a loyal customer, there is a greater chance I’ll keep coming back. Said another way, there are the things that I am willing to pay for, and then there are the things that help make paying that much easier.

To help sweeten today’s reading experience, I leave you with a virtual fortune cookie, and yes it’s free…

“The best tasting cookie is the one you didn’t know you paid for.” 

Happy Friday! Please stay healthy and be safe!