By Carl Langsenkamp, Xerox Global Public Relations

One of the attributes of admired companies is the ability to take a long, hard look inside and truly identify company strengths and weaknesses. For employees, it’s not an easy task to hear the “good, bad and the ugly.” But once you’ve undergone that self assessment, and moved on a course of change – even change that comes with conflict – you will come away with a new sense of purpose and commitment.

This week at the sales kick-off meetings, I witnessed the start of something new and different at Xerox – A new direction that will chart a course for us to become a stronger company. Like every company, we love our acronyms. A week ago USCO stood for United States Customer Operations. Today it stands for United States Client Operations. So what’s the big deal, you ask? We’ve changed a word from “customer” to “client?” Webster’s Dictionary defines a customer as “one that purchases.” And a client as“a person who engages the professional advice or services of another.” I admit, it’s a subtle change. But a significant one.

Simply stated, USCO is making a concerted effort to become a trusted, strategic partner for all our clients – no matter how big or small. Large clients will have dedicated nimble, and quick decision-making teams to offer Xerox services and technology that will help drive real business results. Smaller and mid-sized clients will get more attention from Xerox companies located nearby.

At the kick-off, we got some feedback from a panel of industry experts. They included Brian Bissett from Bissett Communications and the publisher of the MFP Report, Angele Boyd from IDC’s worldwide research practice in the areas of imaging and output and Ann Priede, vice president, Publications Group for Lyra.

“It’s seems like a simple concept, but yet its one that no one in the industry is undertaking,” said Boyd. “Companies too often forget that it’s all about reaching the customer, targeting the customer and most importantly, partnering with the customer.”

Ann Priede from Lyra echoed similar thoughts when she noted that customers want more from a vendor than just taking cost out of their bottom line. “Today, a customer is looking for a partner that can both educate them and support them.”

Whether it’s reaching the client through industry-leading services or the best technology, the panel reiterated the theme that selling goes beyond a product or service. It needs to be about the relationship.

“It’s not a date,” said Bissett. “Customers want and expect a discussion on how Xerox will help them with their business and that should include everything from workflow to software to IT support, services and technology.”

Time will tell on the success of this new framework. But I have a feeling that Xerox is on a course that will soon transform our “customers” to our “clients.”