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Co-browsing (Collaborative Browsing) is a technology that enables agents to jointly navigate a web page together with a customer and interact by chat, voice, or video, as well as annotate and share forms and documents. The high level of visual and interactive engagement allows agents to explain things more clearly and helps customers who are stuck with online processes.

Show, not tell

As all the best storytellers know, it’s much more engaging to show something to your audience than just tell them about it.

The same logic applies to customer service, support and sales interactions. Demonstrating to the customer how to use a product, place an order or fix a problem is much more interesting, much clearer, and much more impactful than just telling them about it.

In a face-to-face environment, this high touch interaction – a shared environment both parties can reference, a high level of tactility – is taken for granted. It’s much more difficult to replicate when the agent is in a contact centre and the customer is, well, wherever the customer is.

Co-browsing combined with video is the best way to create that shared environment for remote customer interactions.

How “screen sharing” compares to co-browsing

Desktop Sharing: here, either the contact centre agent or customer shares their entire desktop with the other, who can interact with the desktop just like the host user. A drawback is that this is not secure or private for the person whose desktop is being shared. It also usually involves downloading and running an external application.

Screen Sharing: in this case, the agent streams a display of part of their desktop to the customer. This has to be controlled to ensure the agent doesn’t show sensitive information. With this set up the customer is not able to interact with the screen, so they cannot take actions for themselves. Another downside is the security risks that come with installing software.

Co-browsing: the contact centre agent only sees and can interact with the web page the customer is visiting. They do not see other browser tabs or the desktop. The customer cannot see the agent’s screen, just an additional cursor on the web page and anything else the agent chooses to overlay – videos, forms, documents.

In a typical co-browsing session, the aim is to ensure that all parties can see the same thing on their screens. This actually poses the greatest challenge as websites can appear quite different to users on different browsers, and there can be security challenges if, for example, the customer is logged in.

JavaScript Cobrowsing

Many co-browsing technologies use embedded JavaScript to share web pages between users, so the customer does not have to download a plugin or sign in to an application – everything is launched from the web page. But this requires changes to the website, because part of the website is no longer maintained or it is outsourced to external parties. For instance, “Javascript co-browsing” will not work on embedded content (Google maps) or 3rd party applications (payment providers).

Universal Cobrowsing

“Universal co-browsing”, on the other hand, allows agents and customers to co-browse any website without the need to actually change the website, not just sites the company owns. Moreover, it doesn’t change the look and feel of the original website and provides both users with a very smooth co-browsing experience that is generally faster than other solutions. The agent is not limited to the confines of their own website or web application. The user can follow the customer throughout the entire customer journey. This approach enables agents to co-browse 3rd party components and applications, such as DocuSign or Google Maps.

With universal co-browsing, it is not possible to share your entire desktop. Sharing is confined to what you see in the browser.

Use cases of co-browsing

Customer Service: it’s easier and quicker to walk a customer through a process on your website than just talk them through it. Whether it’s filling in an order form, completing a purchase, or just choosing the right product, co-browsing increases customer satisfaction.

Sales Teams: particularly for an online product or application, co-browsing lets salespeople bring product demos and sales presentations to life, by allowing potential buyers to experience and interact with the products themselves.

Technical Support: agents can respond to users having issues with a website or application by seeing what they see, and showing them exactly what to do.

Onboarding and training: co-browsing enables you to guide your customers and employees, help them understand how to use your product, and improve the learning experience.

Business benefits

  • Build long-term relationships with customers: improve customer satisfaction, by interpreting and solving customers’ problems quickly.
  • Enhance the customer journey: identify bottlenecks in processes.
  • Increase revenue: create opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.
  • Improve communication and collaboration between other departments.
  • Reduce customer churn.

Security & privacy

Co-browsing that works using embedded JavaScript is basically as secure as the website it’s running on. Universal co-browsing solutions are 100% secure. For example, all connections are encrypted and customers can obfuscate their personal and sensitive information so the agent cannot see it.

What to look out for

Look for a solution that enables you to co-browse any website or web application and is interactive from both sides.

Not all co-browsing software can display web pages correctly to both users, so if your site includes iframes, third party content, video, and JavaScript elements, you might need a universal co-browsing solution.

Remember that mixing media is powerful for presentations and conversions. Select a co-browsing solution that can incorporate video, audio, chat, web forms, images, and documents into the session.

Beware of solutions that are slow or result in blurry resolution. You should not need to sacrifice performance or quality with good co-browsing technology.

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