What is cobrowsing and how does it work?

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A customer being guided by an agent by using cobrowsing feature

Visual communication is increasingly important these days, including in customer experience. Just think: if you can see what someone is talking about, you can jump straight into solving the problem. Cobrowsing is a solution that can help you with that.

Let’s take a closer look at what it is and how it works. Read on for more information on cobrowsing benefits, and get tips on how to find the best solution that fits your needs.

Table of Contents:
A website visitor and a live chat agent start a cobrowsing session

What does cobrowsing mean?

Cobrowsing is short for collaborative browsing. This technology allows agents to access a customer’s browser and navigate it in real time.

With joint navigation of a web page, agents can interact and collaborate online with customers. This makes it much easier and faster for businesses to provide customer support or sales assistance, which helps boost customer engagement.

Why should contact centers use collaborative browsing?

Cobrowsing technology enables contact center agents to connect with a customer's browser or app remotely. With this functionality, they can help anyone who's experiencing issues on a particular web page.

During a cobrowsing session, they can see exactly what a website visitor is looking at. They can also perform certain actions like scrolling the page, moving the cursor, or highlighting areas to guide the visitor.

The best part is they can take over and do things on behalf of the visitor.

Of course, agent control has limitations in place—so there’s no need to worry about not having the final say on how the interaction will conclude.

For example, they're not allowed to click buttons such as "Submit" or "Buy now." The visitor is always the one that must take the final step of the transaction.

In a nutshell, customers keep full control of their browser during the procedure. Meanwhile, contact center agents get partial permissions to aid customers in achieving their purpose or goal.

This makes cobrowsing the perfect solution for businesses dedicated to improving customer experience on their web platform.

How does it work?

Instead of letting online users navigate a page by themselves and leave if they can't find what they're looking for, companies can start a cobrowse session to interact with them.

By doing so, they can provide assistance in real time, resolve issues, and increase customer satisfaction.

Types of cobrowsing sessions

There are three different ways to initiate collaborative browsing: via live chat, video chat, and phone call.

  • To start cobrowsing with live chat, here are the following steps:
    1. An agent asks the customer during a live chat conversation if he/she would like to use cobrowsing.
    2. If the customer accepts, the agent will click the cobrowse button.
    3. Then, a YES or NO prompt will appear on the customer's screen. The customer must click on YES to start sharing his/her browser.
    4. Once access is granted, the agent can see the customer's active tab and take the actions necessary to assist the customer.
  • For video chats, the steps are practically the same as the ones mentioned above. The agent offers use of the feature, and the customer must give his/her permission to start the session. The only difference is that, with video calling, both parties are also having a face-to-face interaction while sharing a browser.
  • If the customer calls you to reach out for help regarding a browser-related issue, the call center agent can suggest to the caller that they use cobrowsing.

    This way, the customer service representative handling the case can better understand the customer issue. To activate collaborative browse (cobrowse) while on a voice call, here are the steps:

    1. The caller must get a PIN or code from the website.
    2. Then, he/she must read it out to the CSR.
    3. The CSR will enter the digits into the system.
    4. Once done, the CSR will gain access to the caller's browser and be able to give visual cues for problem resolution.

After the customer gets the answers they need using any of these types of cobrowsing sessions, he/she can click the STOP button anytime. Once the session has ended, the CSR will no longer see the customer's browser.

As you can see, the process of collaborative browsing is very easy, simple, and quick. With just a few clicks, customer interaction can take place and be finished in an instant.

A customer and an agent having a cobrowsing session while on a phone call

Key uses of cobrowsing

Collaborative browsing can be used by both customer service and sales representatives to create better customer experiences.

In general, organizations can use this feature to help their clients with online processes. These can include:

  • Navigating from one page to another
  • Filling out complex forms
  • Completing payments and other transactions
  • Finding reference materials
  • Changing account settings
  • Choosing the right product among available offerings

To better illustrate, here are some specific business activities where you can apply collaborative browsing:

  • Technical support
    Since cobrowsing allows agents to get an accurate visual representation of the client's experience, they can guide the customer and help them figure out how to resolve or troubleshoot problems. If the client is not tech-savvy, the tech support agent can perform actions on their behalf.
  • Upselling & Cross-selling
    If the company website is designed to sell products or services, sales agents can use cobrowsing to lead a potential buyer to a particular item that perfectly fits what they are looking for.

    They can even display marketing materials like brochures that contain relevant information about different products. This is to further help the prospect make a purchase decision and improve conversions.
  • Customer onboarding
    Customer support teams can make the onboarding process smoother and faster with the help of a cobrowsing solution. They can guide customers through different stages, from understanding the product demos to completing their account setup.
  • Online application & form completion
    In many cases, people don’t quite know what to enter into a particular field when they fill out a complex form. By activating the feature, the agent can see the form while the client is filling it out.

    So if the client skips a required field, the agent can highlight that area to remind them of it and give instructions on what kind of answer is needed. This way, clients can fill out the form completely and submit it successfully.

How to choose the best cobrowse software for your business

There is a wide range of cobrowsing solutions in the market. So identifying the right software for your contact center can be tricky.

To help you find one that will work for you, here are some top features of cobrowsing tools that you should look out for:

  • WebRTC-based - It’s crucial that your chosen solution is built with this technology because it enables real-time communication on mobile applications as well as browsers. This means there will be no downloads, installations, or plugins required for you and your clients.
  • Data masking - This security feature hides sensitive information of customers from an agent’s view. This means that confidential data like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and passwords will be kept private.
  • Session controls and restrictions - Customers must have full control over the co-browsing session. Agents are only allowed to see and control what the customer wants them to access.
  • Co-browse code - This feature allows the agents and customers to start a cobrowsing session during a phone conversation.
  • Mobile SDK - This feature lets agents provide support to your mobile app users, so they won’t have to switch to a mobile browser.
  • Annotation tools - These enable agents to write text, highlight parts, and draw around the page to get the website visitor’s attention. They’re useful for giving visual instructions and clarifying complex transactions.
  • Dual/Named cursors - These help identify which actions belong to the agent or the website visitor. They eliminate confusion and make it easier for the customer to follow along.
  • Omnichannel capability - Connect and cobrowse with your customers on their preferred channel: live chat, video chat, or phone call.
  • Integrations - Integrate cobrowsing with your existing customer relationship management system and other third-party platforms.

What is the difference between cobrowsing and screen sharing?

You might say that cobrowsing functions like screen sharing does. While they are both visual engagement tools, some things make collaborative browsing a better option.

To set them apart, you can consider several factors such as accessibility, limitations, and security. Want to understand their differences? Let’s look at the table below.

  1. No software download is required. By just clicking a button, CSRs can instantly connect to the client’s browser.
  2. CSRs can only see the active browser tab of the client.
  3. CSRs can perform actions on the client’s browser (scroll, highlight, write text) to provide visual guidance or do things on behalf of the client.
  4. CSRs can’t see the client’s confidential data because of data masking.

Screen Sharing

  1. Both parties must install an application first before they can start sharing screens.
  2. CSRs can see either the client’s full desktop or application window. (It depends on what the client chooses to share.)
  3. CSRs can’t do any actions on the client’s screen. They can only provide verbal instructions while on a video call.
  4. CSRs can see everything displayed on the screen, so clients must be extra careful not to show their private information.

As you can see, collaborative browsing is a faster, more convenient, and secure way to engage with customers, particularly those with concerns related to the company website.

Many businesses use screen sharing for other purposes. It’s a popular feature of modern video calling applications. It’s best used for online meetings, webinars, and other activities that involve presenting to a big group of remote participants.

Is cobrowsing safe?

Ensuring customer privacy is how businesses build stronger customer relationships. So it’s vital that you have a visual engagement platform that won’t put your customers at risk.

Cobrowsing is safe to use because it has security measures and policies in place.  In fact, banks and other financial institutions have been using it to give their clients a better digital banking experience.

Here are different ways to know if a cobrowse solution is designed with top security in mind:

  1. It requires the customer to grant access permission to the agent before a cobrowse session starts. Advanced solutions even require a unique code or one-time PIN. With this, you can confirm that your client is willing to proceed with the process.
  2. During the session, the agent is only allowed to see the specific browser tab on which the client is asking for assistance. They can’t see other tabs or the entire customer desktop, so your client won’t have to worry about showing overly personal or unrelated details.
  3. Equipped with data masking, the client’s sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and login credentials are hidden from the agent’s view.
  4. Agent controls are limited. For example, they can’t click the submit button, so they won’t be able to complete transactions or purchase products.
  5. Your clients don’t need to download or install any software, so they won’t have to worry about the risk of computer viruses.
A customer entering her credit card details during a cobrowsing session
To ensure secure cobrowsing, partner with a service provider that’s verified by trusted institutions and that complies with all major data and security regulations. RingCentral, for example, is certified secure by AICPA, HIPAA, Hitrust, and McAfee.

Benefits of cobrowsing

  • Reduce customer effort
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Boost customer loyalty
  • Increase online conversions
  • Reduce average handle time
  • Exceed customer expectations

What is RingCentral Cobrowse?

Cobrowse is an add-on feature available on RingCentral Engage Messaging that customers can purchase. It helps enhance the customer engagement platform by allowing agents to browse and collaborate with customers simultaneously.

Its key features and components include:

  • Unique cobrowsing code for agents to gain access to customers’ browsers
  • Dynamic contextual content sharing for both parties to view documents
  • Site guidance for agents to direct a customer to a new page
  • Visual guidance for agents to highlight a part of the page and draw the customer’s attention
  • "White list" fields for protection of sensitive customer data
  • No installation required at either end
Want to set up cobrowsing to improve your customer journey and ensure customer success? Click on View Demo to learn how RingCentral can help you get started.