INTERVIEW With Xerox VP- How to Innovate the Customer Care Market Through Technology

Our self-service portals are meant to reduce customer care costs by reducing incoming customer support inquiries and by encouraging users to self-task confidently.

But what happens when these self-service solutions fail us?

The complexity of self-help often overwhelms or frustrates new customers.

According to Tim-Deluca-Smith, the Vice President of Marketing for WDS, A Xerox Company – analysis shows that up to 20% of calls coming into a call center are actually the result of a failed self-care interaction.

What are customer care managers supposed to do when their solutions are actually creating even more problems?

In this interview, Deluca-Smith provides insights into how Xerox is overcoming such prominent industry challenges by innovating the customer care market with technology. The interview also provides tips for all customer care professionals reading this article.


Tim Deluca-Smith, is the vice president of marketing for WDS, A Xerox Company. WDS is a subsidiary that focuses on the higher end components of the customer experience – like analytics. 

Customer Engagement Blog: Please tell us a bit about Xerox’s customer care policies

Tim Deluca-Smith, Xerox: Xerox is a true leader in customer care services and today delivers care services on behalf of many of the world’s most recognizable brands. 

Part of that leadership is the company’s scale; with more than  57,000 customer care agents across 160 sites, in about 30 languages managing more than 2.5 million care interactions every day. However, equally important is the company’s drive to innovate the customer care market through technology.  

Customer Engagement Blog: In a recent interview, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns stated, “The next big step comes in technology. So if you have 100 people answering the phone and they take 10 calls an hour, can you get it such that you have 100 people that take 15 calls an hour?” What steps has Xerox taken to streamline these processes?

Xerox: The market can build better agent tools and deliver better agent training (and we do), but you can only improve agent efficiency so much. This is one of the drivers for the use of digital self-service tools; such as online virtual assistants or smartphone apps to help customers solve their own problems. In fact an increasingly percentage of customer care traffic is passing through such self-care channels.

Customer Engagement Blog: What is Xerox’s greatest customer engagement and support challenge?

Xerox: Brands are investing heavily in these digital tools – largely because they can offer enormous cost benefits (up to 98% more cost effective than taking a phone call).

However, we believe that many of these tools aren’t as effective as they could be.

In fact our own analysis shows that up to 20% of calls coming into a call center are actually the result of a failed self-care interaction.

Think about that – the solutions deployed to protect the contact center from expensive voice traffic are actually adding traffic.

For brands investing in digital care tools, this just isn’t acceptable.

Customer Engagement Blog: What is Xerox’s solution to this challenge? 

Xerox: We are investing heavily in the next generation of digital self-care tools, taking key innovations out of our research centers and deploying them to give our clients the confidence to automate their customer care interactions through digital channels.

An example of this is machine learning.

We have technology that actually learns how to better resolve customer problems by “listening” to how care agents do it. It starts to make connections between the symptoms being described by the customer, what the agent established the cause to be and what they did to resolve it.

Using this historical data, tools such as an online virtual agent are better prepared to resolve a customer problem when they encounter similar symptoms. This is a world away from many existing digital tools that simply try and use keywords to establish what the customer wants or pass customers through a tiresome series of questions to eventually find the solution.

It’s this type if innovation – machine learning, sentiment analysis and natural language processing that will reshape how brands interact with their customers.

Customer Engagement Blog: If you could envision any single technology (real or fictional) to improve the customer care center, what would this technology do?

Xerox: On a wider macro-level, the single biggest factor driving change is the ability to leverage the data inherent in any care environment to drive efficiency. Many brands use multiple vendors to service their care centers; this makes it difficult to standardize and use the data – the problems customers are having, where, why, how best they are resolved etc.

Used correctly this insight is invaluable in improving the overall care experience.

Think about how better your care experience would be if the technology in place could almost pre-empt your problems; assessing past care engagements, how you are using a product, where you are, how much social influence you have- all to improve that single care interaction. This is what we are working to achieve.

This puts Xerox in a unique position. We can now combine that established operational scale and excellence in contact centers with cutting edge self-care technology to give clients a connected, consistent solution across all of their care channels. That’s not something that many people can do.

Customer Engagement Blog: If you have one tip to offer other managers and professionals in customer care leadership roles, what would it be?

Xerox: As a final word of advice for care managers and professionals…

There’s a huge wave of change coming.

Customers expect more and they expect to be serviced over multiple channels – from a call center to a store, to Twitter. This isn’t simple to achieve because you need consistency across those channels.

The customer expects the same response and service regardless of how they connect with you.

Unfortunately the status quo has been for different departments to own different care channels.

This is when the experience fails.

It’s time to take a more holistic view of the care mix, and a single view of the customer. It’s a big data challenge; but think about how the data that passes through your care channels every hour could be driving valuable insights to deliver better accuracy across digital tools, better consistency and a better experience for customers.





Amy Clark is the Lead Author & Editor of IWantItNow Blog. Amy established the Customer Engagement blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to customer service, support and engagement.