This short video clip from the popular television show "The Office" demonstrates how to, and how not to, develop a relationship with a client. While one salesperson, Michael, takes the appropriate approach in developing a relationship, Andy is oblivious to the customer's needs and takes an inappropriate tact. The result is a lost sale.
The learning goal is to demonstrate the importance of building relationships with potential customers as a means to winning and sustaining their business. The goal is to contrast the correct and incorrect ways to develop rapport with a prospective client.
Target Student Population:
The module is appropriate for high school or undergraduate level students, and is a useful reminder in any course of the importance of building customer relationships. It is best incorporated perhaps in principles, consumer behavior, strategic marketing, customer service/sales or organizational behavior/management courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
This video clip is useful in supporting the importance of client relationship building, which is usually discussed in the initial chapter of a principles text. As such, prerequisite knowledge doesn’t necessarily seem needed.
Type of Material:
Presentation (video clip)
This video clip would be best used in sales or sales management classes, although it could be used in a principles of marketing or marketing strategy class. I would use it to introduce the topic of approaching the customer and developing rapport.
Internet browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) with the ability to run scripts
Evaluation and Observation
Because the video is from a broadcast network television show, the quality is outstanding. The clip is funny, yet the message is clear. Students should be able to grasp the idea that Michael is trying to develop points of commonality with the customer by picking up on the fact that he likes to fish, whereas Andy is focusing the conversation on himself. Michael is customer-focused, whereas Andy is oblivious. The video clip is short and to the point, and as such, provides a clear illustration of the importance of client relationship building. It utilizes the recent pop culture hit “The Office,” and is seemingly “current” to the viewer and enjoyable to watch.
It should be noted that this is a video clip from a popular TV show, and it isn’t meant to provide a complete discussion of the topic. As submitted, however, the module lacks depth in scholarship, flexibility and integration of the concept into the larger course material. It is possible that the humor could overshadow the message, although that possibility is remote.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This module provide a good illustrative link to the importance of client relationship building, and opens the door to a discussion of what-to-do as well as what-not-to-do in a customer interaction. The video is short and to the point, and the associated transcript offers the opportunity for not only discussion of the good/bad points, but the ability to rewrite the scene as part of a larger learning objective. Additionally, there is a stated discussion question attached to the website that can be used as a springboard for analysis. The clip could be a very effective way to demonstrate the importance of developing rapport. Students can see firsthand what can happen if customers don't feel that the salespeople are on the same page with the customer, even if it is a dramatization. The humor will help draw the class in. I plan on using this in my own class from now on.
The video is not meant to be a complete lesson, and is therefore limited in its usage. The teaching moment is clear, however it needs more contextual discussion to really drive the point home completely. Additional discussion questions and/or assignment would need to be developed by the instructor for use beyond just a classroom visual aid. This short video clip will not be a miracle-worker. It can set the stage for a longer conversation on the importance of developing rapport, but it cannot demonstrate the concept on its own.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
In general, the clip is very easy to use and could be incorporated into an online or face-to-face class easily. Once you click on the link, the video runs. You can expand the video to run full screen. The video lasts one minute, 22 seconds. The website link to Hulu is speedy and doesn’t appear to present problems in the transmission. The video clip is easy to understand, as the point is clearly made and done so with some humor. Even students who are not familiar with “The Office” should still recognize the characters and/or find the clip meaningful and enjoyable.
The video clip is not meant to be a full demonstration of customer service or sales skills, and lacks in design quality for broad classroom use. As written now, it is sufficient only for illustrative purposes. There are short advertisements that precede the video clip. Also, subsequent video clips will run unless stopped by the viewer. Finally, I ran into a problem with Firefox; because I use an add-on that prevents scripts from running, the video clip did not run. I switched to Internet Explorer and the problem was resolved. I suspect that Firefox users without the add-on will not enounter problems.
Other Issues and Comments:
As I mentioned previously, I will use this video, as well as some of the other videos from the site, in my sales class from now on. This is an excellent resource and one I think the students will enjoy.