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Why Augmented Productivity Is the Future of Work

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Author photo: Morgan Norman

Morgan Norman

We think of augmented reality in terms of putting on wearable technology and adding extra information—even functionality—to the world around us.

Wearing a Google Glass headset, you could use voice commands to access a map, a web browser, or your calendar, all while walking around. With Snap's Spectacles, you could record high-definition video and photos of the world around you using nothing more than a tap of your finger.

Augmented productivity is about bringing the same kind of improvements to our work lives, providing contextual and actionable information—layered on top of our tools—to improve the outcome of our everyday activities:

  • Contextual information helps us understand where our activities sit in the wider world.
  • Actionable information provides opportunities for customer interactions we wouldn't otherwise have.

Take email, for example. It's the linchpin of business communication, used in 94% of sales conversations.

communication channels in sales cycles

We surveyed 1,059 professionals from a variety of industries, company sizes, and functions. Email was the de facto communication channel for almost everyone.

Despite email's key role, the data that we need to improve the outcome of our sales emails—past interactions we had with the customer, information we collected about their company and their role—is siloed away in separate tools. We can either send emails without any added context, or we can waste time switching between half a dozen tools and spreadsheets.

To solve this problem, we created Copper, the world's first crm built directly inside Gmail. It augments the G Suite to provide contextual and actionable information: interactions our customers have with other team members, Docs and Sheets they've opened, scheduled Calendar meetings—right where we need it.

As we've discovered, this type of augmented productivity is already having a profound impact on our working day.

1. Spend skilled time on skilled work.

Sales teams spend too much time on unskilled work. The worst culprit? Updating their contact relationship management tools. Manual data entry isn't the kind of task your sales reps should spend time doing, but, too often, that's exactly what ends up happening.

Applying the principles of augmented productivity can transform the traditional CRM from a tool that sucks up your team's time and resources into something that gives time back, providing information that you can't get anywhere else.

largest crm hurdles
Manually updating and entering data are the two biggest challenges faced by CRM users today.

The traditional CRM is effectively a database, deriving the bulk of its value—generating reports—from constant manual data entry.

But on a sales team, it's no one's primary job to “update the CRM.” A seller is judged by their ability to close deals and build relationships. Data entry (whether it's looking up information, entering information, double-checking it, or generating reports) doesn't serve the seller's primary goal. Inevitably, the data entry process breaks down, and the quality of a CRM’s records declines.

That's a problem. Traditional CRMs are only as useful as the data they contain. To quote our CEO, Jon Lee:

Salesforce might have Einstein, but if you give Einstein garbage, it will give you garbage results.”

Augmented productivity makes data entry obsolete. At Copper, we automatically ingest data from dozens of different sources, keeping it accurate and up to date without any manual oversight. Reports and recommendations are made on the very latest information, and sellers are free to focus skilled time on skilled activities.

There's no need to enter names, email addresses, phone numbers, and meeting schedules into Copper’s crm after every customer interaction. Instead, the information is automatically pulled through from Gmail, Calendar, and Drive, allowing sellers to spend more time acting on the new information—setting meetings, following up with prospects, and closing deals—instead of entering it.

2. Generate better outcomes.

We spend most of our working day in G Suite, crafting emails, documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. But all too often, the information we need to help those documents achieve their aim is locked away in siloed tools.

In thinking about what a new crm should be capable of, we set out to augment the entire productivity suite and make customer insights available directly inside the tools we use all day, every day: Google Docs (more Docs tips here), Sheets, Slides, Gmail, and Calendar.

amount of workday spent in Docs and Sheets
Our research revealed that Google Docs and Sheets aren't just internal tools: They're crucial for communicating with customers.

As they stand, productivity tools are beautifully optimized for creating “things”—emails, presentations, documents, and spreadsheets. But crafting a well-designed email with concise, legible copy doesn't guarantee that our email will succeed at its intended goal. No amount of polish will encourage a customer to act on an upselling email if they've just churned; our outreach email won't go anywhere if the recipient is already talking to one of our colleagues.

The missing piece is context: wider information about our customers that allows us to generate better outcomes with the emails, documents, and presentations we create. Augmenting our productivity tools with Copper allows us to personalize our communication and generate better outcomes in multiple ways:

  • Improved accuracy. Tailor your outreach to the emails and blog posts customers have read and the meetings and conversations they've been involved in.
  • Better time sensitivity. See a live stream of activity between company and customer, and reach out when customers are nearing the limits of their account plans.
  • More tactful. Quickly find out whether another seller has already reached out to a prospect, and avoid trying to upsell unhappy customers with an unresolved support ticket.

Augmenting G Suite with customer data means this personalization can happen in minutes instead of the hours you'd have to spend searching through an outdated database each time you wanted to send an email.

3. Solve complexity.

Old-school CRMs were created as a sales tool, storing basic customer data in a way that made sense for sales teams. But today, deals are no longer made between a single salesperson and a single customer; they often involve dozens of people and hundreds of interactions. Every function, from marketing to finance, influences the sales process.

In this Relationship Era, we didn’t design Copper to just be a “sales tool”—it should augment the productivity of everyone in the company, providing actionable insights that sellers, marketers, and product teams alike can use in their daily workflow. After all, everyone has the potential to be a relationship maker.

number of teammates involved in managing relationships
Today's customer relationships are managed by an average of 3-4 teammates, often drawn from different teams within the company.

Back in the day of the Scotch-swilling salesmen, deals were won and lost in a single round of golf. That’s the age in which CRMs were born.

Today's customer relationships are far more complex—and traditional CRM can't cope. Take, for example, this hypothetical buyer's journey that spans multiple mediums and multiple team functions:

  • A visitor reads a blog post (marketing).
  • They download a case study (marketing/sales).
  • Next, they sign up for a free trial (product).
  • They read reviews from existing customers (customer support).
  • Next, they have a sales conversation (sales).
  • Finally, they opt for a monthly subscription instead of an annual one (finance).

With traditional CRM, we miss out on customer data from dozens of key sources—email, spreadsheets, documents, live chat messages, support tickets—and crucial information is siloed away from the teams that need it.

Thankfully, tools like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar are used in every part of a company, and augmenting G Suite with Copper effectively democratizes access to customer data.

Everyone, regardless of their role, can quickly and intuitively surface the information they need to send better emails and create better documents. This process works like a feedback loop, making it easier for the whole company to add their own unique customer insights back into the Copper.

Instead of being a barrier to great relationships, augmented productivity simplifies the increasingly complex buying process and unlocks more opportunities to learn about (and interact with) our customers.

The evolution of crm...

Traditional CRMs make great back-end databases, but increasingly, that isn't enough. Customer relationships span dozens of people and hundreds of interactions, and expectations of great service and memorable experiences have never been higher. In today's Relationship Era, we need to augment our productivity tools with the tools and data that modern relationship makers need to deliver standout customer experiences.

Thankfully, software is moving this way. Slack has successfully augmented workplace communication, making it quick and easy to communicate with virtually anyone in your company. Zendesk has augmented customer support, centralizing help docs, support tickets, and feedback into a single intelligent platform.

Now, Copper is augmenting productivity, adding a layer of relationship data to every interaction in your working day.

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Instant activation, no credit card required. Give Copper a try today.

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