I am going to borrow Wikipedia’s description for its simplicity and accuracy:
“Co-browsing, in the context of web browsing, is the joint navigation through the Internet by two or more people accessing the same web pages at the same time.”
Co-browsing technology was first made available many years ago, but despite becoming mainstream, it is often an underutilized resource. One of the reasons might be the complex landscape of trying to assist someone working on the web. Consider dynamic web pages, rich in content technologies such as Flash, AJAX, Air, Silverlight as well as underlying access solutions for authentication systems and cookies. Add on top of that, the wide variety of platforms for web browsers and operating systems in play, and then suddenly the idea of using a simple browser sharing tool can become quite daunting.
Now consider the complexity of your own website and its content management systems. Add to that the use of cloud-integrated solutions, where the pages that you need to help your customers work through are not even your own pages. Imagine having to find a way to tag every web page that you might want to have your customer share with you. In addition, also realize that some content is local to your website visitor. For example, a PDF of a policy or statement that was downloaded and needs to be explained.
So is Co-browsing underutilized because of the web complexities? The simple answer is no. As with many other technologies, Co-browsing has evolved to support a full user web experience, but some technology providers fail to account for what customers expect from their online interactions. Co-browsing is a great tool for your customer service and support teams. Consider this scenario:
Your customer is trying to complete an insurance application online. Since they have multiple vehicles and drivers in multiple states, the application is very complex. Your customer spent a long time getting through the application to this point and does not want to start all over again. They call for help and while on the phone with a licensed agent, CoBrowse is offered to help complete that application. The agent can now see both the webpage the application is on, and a PDF that the customer has with the car details. The agent talks the customer through completing the application, step by step, and now the customer is insured and happy.
Here are a few steps to consider a successful use of this technology:
- How do customers get started? Co-browse solutions must be offered in a seamless manner no matter which communication channel the customer initiates the conversation from. The ability to initiate a Co-browse solution from within a web chat or a phone call is required today. It must seem like a natural extension of the current conversation.
- Co-browse solutions that cannot share critical information that exists outside of the browser will inhibit the experience your customers expect. How can they share their latest statement when they just downloaded the PDF from your own website? Or see an issue from your software application they just installed?
- Co-browse technology that mandates tagging each and every page that a customer may want to share may be a technical challenge and, in many cases, not feasible. How can your customer show you what they saw on a blog or community site, or a competitive website or even search engine results? What if they want to share a page on a site not managed by your organization?
- Co-browse solutions that share a browser experience (many technically are known as a Proxy Solution) may help with simple web page based content. They are not capable of extending to view the rich content on every web page, so make sure that what all viewers are seeing is the same and synchronized.
In the end, it’s all about the customer experience. Co-browsing offers an enhanced customer experience, often reduces handle time, increases first contact resolution and closes more sales. It’s a win for everyone.