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Xerox Uses Subscriptions to Deliver an Augmented (Reality) Customer Experience

Fritz Cambier-Unruh
Staff Writer, Subscribed

For decades, Xerox has been known for making the cutting edge products — printers and scanners — that offices could not run without. The company has never been a stranger to technology, and as printer tech has advanced over the years, Xerox has always been at the forefront. But now technology has presented Xerox with a new opportunity: building a new service-based offering, based around the customer experience, monetized via a subscription business model.

For most people, the term “augmented reality” (AR) conjures up visions of technological magic.

The ability to layer digital experience on top of the real world with computer-generated perceptual information presents all sorts of gaming and entertainment possibilities — Pokemon Go being an obvious (and ridiculously fun) example — but also more practical possibilities as well. The digital experience of AR enables companies to create visceral connections with their customers that are impossible to replicate via an email or a phone call. In short, AR is as close to an in-person interaction as you can get without actually being there.

AR also enhances the way customers interact with physical products. With AR, companies can relay essential information about a product directly to the user, eliminating the need not only for on-site training and maintenance, but also tedious printed manuals or having employees Googling information with questions about products. In-office solutions provider Xerox saw an opportunity to leverage AR as part of the service management offering for their printer products.

CareAR, the company’s enterprise AR support platform, enables service teams to provide real-time visual and contextual assistance as part of an integrated service workflow. As Sam Waicberg, General Manager of Xerox Digital Services explains, “Xerox’s CareAR is the augmented reality platform for the modern service management–enabled enterprise. We make expertise accessible instantly for customers, employees, and field workers through live visual AR interactions, instructions, and insights as part of a seamless digital workflow.”

Remote agent experts receive information and are visually guided as if they were there in person. AR capabilities can be used for field service, customer support, and IT service. From a tech point of view, the CareAR stack includes desktop and mobile software as well as smart glass devices.

This innovation has considerable operational advantages for Xerox. In the old standard operating procedure, Xerox had 10,000 techs in trucks on call, assigned to physical locations via a call center. With CareAR, remote AR assistance helps remote agents see what the customer sees and guide them through any problem solving required. This greatly reduces infrastructure spend for Xerox.

Of course, digital service is also a win for enterprise customers.

AR-driven support reduces downtime, which, depending on the customer’s size, can translate to thousands or even millions of dollars in savings. But Xerox’s foray into digital isn’t just about using advanced tech to improve customer support. Xerox is using CareAR to transition from a pure products company to a services and solutions company.

In other words, it’s not just about offering new technology; it’s about bringing this new technology to market in a whole new way. Enterprise customers are increasingly searching for ways to access consumption rather than ownership. They want to avoid large CAPEX costs up front, and instead pay for the outcomes they need as they go.

For Xerox, that meant offering a way for customers to right-size their customer service spend to focus on at-the-moment business needs. To meet these customer demands for flexibility, Xerox launched CareAR as a subscription service.

When they order Xerox products, many customers don’t know how much customer service they are actually going to use. A CareAR subscription provides an enterprise with a means to get an appropriate level of service and adjust it over time as their organization’s needs change. For Xerox, the CareAR subscription offering is an opportunity to build a strong relationship with their customers.

Subscriptions require multiple touchpoints as customers make payments, add or remove services, and learn about new features. These human interactions help Xerox add value for the customer. From the moment a customer signs up and throughout the customer’s life cycle, Xerox wants to deliver a seamless, smooth experience. For example, CareAR customers don’t have to spend weeks setting up new invoicing processes every time they want to scale up — changes can be made quickly online.

Xerox offers different subscription options for CareAR like variable minutes of CareAR use or a set number of CareAR minutes per user. CareAR subscriptions are all about ease of access and outcomes, not heavy product ownership with heavy processes.

“We give our customers the flexibility to make changes to their subscription, which then of course keeps us focused on what we do for them and how to improve in our key value proposition, which is enabling AI-driven service management,” explains Samantha Wilmot, Vice President and General Manager of CareAR, a Xerox Company.

We give our customers the flexibility to make changes to their subscription, which then of course keeps us focused on what we do for them and how to improve in our key value proposition, which is enabling AI-driven service management.

Samantha Wilmot, Vice President and General Manager of CareAR, a Xerox Company

Xerox is applying the lessons from CareAR to the rest of its digital service portfolio, which is set to include a cloud-based content management system, a multi-channel marketing software company, and automation software for production printing. The CareAR experience with flexible subscription options has helped the company reimagine the process of setting customers up and then allowing them to change their terms of engagement down the line.

Ultimately, it’s about using innovation to build a customer-centered experience. As GM Waicberg explains, “Xerox sees considerable digital capabilities being introduced to our platform during the next one to two years as we drive the market and lead in innovation.” After taking the lead in customer-centric services, Xerox’s competitive advantage will be hard for competitors to duplicate.

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