The other night I received a phone call that pointed out an approach that companies commonly take when talking to their customers that I don't understand. My trial period of XM radio was about to expire, so I was contacted to renew my subscription. I answered the phone and was pleasantly surprised when it was a person, for a minute, then he proceeded to read a script about how awesome their product is and what a deal it would be to renew the subscription. I told him I wasn't interested, which prompted him to read another, very similar, script. Again I told him I wasn't interested and that was the end of the call.
I'm sure having this call center team contact everyone and knowing a conversion rate of new car owners to XM subscribers is probably very helpful to the sales and marketing group, but as a product manager, I would want more. Not once was I asked why I wasn't interested or what I use in place of their product. This is all invaluable data to a product manager. If the customer is already on the phone, why not ask more penetrating questions? It doesn't cost anything extra to gather this feedback, and it could be critical to the company's strategy and success. Not to mention the fact that I was on the fence about whether to keep the subscription, there was an opportunity for the caller to convince me but reading a script rather than having a real conversation was not going to accomplish that.
These days everyone is so concerned about cost savings and checking off items in their list that they forget how valuable an unscripted conversation can be. In one conversation you could learn what your product is missing that your customer values, who your new competitors are that you never even considered, the conversation topics that are essential to closing a sales deal, the topics that your customers really don't care to discuss during a sales call, even the parts of your product that the customer likes. I don't know about you, but I always have time for that conversation.