So you’re sitting at home or in the office minding your own business, catching up on the latest blog post from yours truly, eyes riveted to your computer monitor, when your inbox chime sounds. You’ve got email, so you check it out. There, buried among a friend’s latest Facebook post, a meeting confirmation, and about a dozen spam messages is an invitation to participate in a product survey.

What do you do?

If the invite is from a company you don’t recognize or haven’t used, most likely you do a “quick draw” on the delete button. After all, you’re far too savvy to fall for the trick of opening an unsolicited email and unleashing goodness knows what on your poor, unsuspecting computer.

However, if the invite is from a company you frequent, it just might catch your attention enough to warrant a closer look—especially if you’ve made a recent purchase.

But do you owe the survey invite more than just a passing glance? In short, what’s in it for you? What will make it worth your while to actually open, complete, and return the survey?

Taken a step further, what if the company phones you instead of emails? Do you even give them the time, especially if it’s at work or at home during precious personal time?

Now I “get” that companies are trying to improve their products and services by soliciting feedback from their customers. By asking your opinion and analyzing the results, they can tweak their offerings and the way they do things, which should lead to them producing better products or services aligned with what their customers really want.

On the surface, this sounds like a win-win situation . . . or is it?

Think about it. The company gets to make a better product or service, but you’ve already made your purchase or signed your lease. Now they want your time and your input. Again, what’s in it for you?

Granted, there is some sense of selflessness in giving feedback you know will help others; it’s even a bit self-satisfying (cue chest pounding here) to be asked for your “valuable” opinion. But am I greedy in thinking that you or me or anyone else should be compensated in some small way for our time? It doesn’t have to be much—we’re not talking attorney’s fees here—but wouldn’t a gift certificate, a discount, or even a few cold, hard dollars make sense as compensation for taking the time to provide feedback?

I’m sure there’s probably some statistical “no-no” in paying survey respondents for their opinions, but the long and short of it is that time is money. So if you want my feedback—and thus my time—you need to compensate me to a degree. Otherwise, I’ll fast track your email survey to the trash or “politely” decline any and all survey phone calls.

What say you? (oh-oh, does that count as a survey?)