By Laurie Riedman

I love the type of help that shows up exactly when I need it.

So I’m not surprised that Xerox received a Software category Technology Innovation award this week from the Wall Street Journal for some really cool technology called Virtual Help Desk. 

Help is sort of a swear word for me (or at least I find myself swearing a lot when I use it).   You see, I’m the self-sufficient type. I’m also a tad technically challenged. It’s a combustible combination.

On top of that – I’m an independent consultant that works from a home office.  For me time is money, so when a printer, computer or other techno device stops working, I really don’t have time to flip through my printer manual for technical instructions. I resort to hitting the reset button way too many times, and praying the device will eventually come to its senses.  H-E-L-P! Sound familiar?

According to ethnographers at Xerox this scenario is common.  They studied the way customers respond to printer issues and found that what we really need — is real time help. A person – not a manual – to guide us through the steps we need to take – right then and there.   

Virtual Help Desk does just that.

So hats off to the team of really smart researchers from the Xerox Research Centre Europe who created this cool Web-based 3D virtual reality tool. Virtual Help Desk gives Xerox customers like me instant access to live support for their printer or multifunction device – while I’m standing at the printer.

Here is how works:

Let’s say the document I need to pick up isn’t printing.  Rather than freaking out like I would normally do – using Virtual Help desk – I can calmly (notice the word calmly) press the ‘Help’ button once (notice the word once) and I will be automatically connected via a call to the support desk.  As the agent accepts the incoming call, the system uploads a 3D model of the printer while gathering and displaying data on the status of the machine.  The system simultaneously uploads the same 3D model on the screen in front of me so I can see exactly what the help desk agent is suggesting I do.  In moments, I’m having a real-time multimedia conversation and can address the problem right then and there.

So, it’s understandable that the panel of esteemed technology gurus at the Wall Street Journal gave this team the prize!  Not only does the Virtual Help Desk promise to ease customer frustration and shorten customer care calls – more importantly — for customers like me – it gives me the freedom to focus on my real business..

Feel free to check out a video demo of the technology or find more info in this release.