Will Co-browsing software help your business grow?

There was never a more compelling reason to implement co-browsing software than the outbreak of COVID-19. Anyone who relied on in-person communication to achieve business outcomes now had to find alternative modes of interaction. 

But even before the pandemic, the benefits of co-browsing were becoming apparent in many industries. 

With every technological advance, more activities transition to a digital format. By 2019, for example, over 47 percent of sales professionals companies were inside reps (i.e., sales reps with little or no face-to-face interaction with customers). 

This transition accelerated during the pandemic. In 2020, driven by lockdowns and a reduction in in-person interaction, businesses prioritized visual engagement. Eighty-nine percent of companies were considering devoting more of their resources to visual engagement

The use of visual engagement tools like co-browsing solutions will continue to increase in the wake of the pandemic as customers look for better ways to make purchasing decisions, receive software support, and engage with companies.

This article will explain co-browsing technology, its benefits, and its limitations so you can decide whether it makes sense for your business.

What is Co-browsing?

Co-browsing software, or collaborative browsing software, is a visual engagement tool that lets a person share a browser window with others. Visual engagement refers to real-time communication with customers through tools like video conferencing, co-browsing, screen sharing, and website annotation.

Co-browsing solutions enable your team to engage customers’ visual attention through a collaborative shared browser session. Participants can pass control of the browser back and forth, which is beneficial in many contexts.

For example, here are a few ways businesses are leveraging collaborative browsing to improve the customer experience:

  • A customer can navigate to a page where they’re having a problem, and a customer support representative can take over to diagnose and fix the issue.
  • An insurance agent can walk a customer through paperwork and give the customer control to sign it.
  • A software sales representative can give a customer control during a product demo to try the product themselves.

What’s the difference between co-browsing and screen sharing?

There are a few differences between co-browsing and screen sharing. But the reason behind these differences lies in what data they transmit.

Screen sharing takes what is on the sharer’s screen and sends that data to other screens. This is helpful when presenting a slideshow or walking someone through a product demo, but it requires a strong internet connection because it requires a large amount of bandwidth to transmit the image.

Depending on what the presenter is sharing, the bandwidth necessary may increase. For example, sharing a slideshow will require more bandwidth than sharing a document.

This means that screen sharing results in lower quality.

Additionally, screen sharing requires the installation of a program or extension to function. So, depending on your use case, screen sharing may be impractical. For example, using screen sharing to supplement live chat on your website for sales purposes would require the visitor to download and install the software before the sales rep could share their screen.

Finally, since screen sharing only transmits the screen image, the parties cannot share control for collaborative browsing. 

How Does Co-Browsing Technology Work?

There are two types of co-browsing. One is JavaScript-based, the other is pixel-based. Pixel-based co-browsing suffers from the same quality issues that screen sharing does. It also cannot be integrated into an existing application (e.g., live chat).

JavaScript-based co-browsing provides a higher quality experience and integrates with existing applications. Still, it requires the user to download an extension, and it doesn’t work with inline frames (an HTML element that many websites use to embed content).

Surfly provides the benefits of JavaScript-based co-browsing without requiring a download. It also works with inline frames.

Surfly’s Co-browsing technology sends the HTML and code sources to other participants instead of sending pixel data. Since this data is text-based, it requires less bandwidth than screen sharing. That means it’s faster and less resource-intensive. Surfly takes that data and reconstructs the website on the other participants’ screens.

The user sees the website as though they navigated there themselves. In actuality, Surfly recreates the website on top of the page. This version of the page exists on a Surfly proxy so that the browser can send requests.

Sending requests to the proxy instead of the original website creates a smoother experience than other co-browsing or screen sharing solutions.

Is co-browsing safe?

It’s important to evaluate each co-browsing solution to determine whether it meets your organization’s security needs. 

But Surfly takes multiple steps to ensure that all interactions and data are secure. 

All connections are encrypted, and it doesn’t send security tokens or passwords to other participants. The software only sends visual changes from one browser to another, so it doesn’t expose sensitive information. 

The benefits of co-browsing software

Businesses in various industries have seen benefits by implementing co-browsing software. Collaborative browsing:

No matter your industry, if the following benefits are relevant to you, co-browsing could make a positive impact.

It works with the tools you already use

You can instantly add co-browsing through Surfly and use it with tools like Salesforce through built-in implementations. You can also integrate Surfly into your product through its flexible APIs.

Increases customer engagement

Gallup research found that fully engaged customers provide 23 percent more value to a company. Banks see 37 percent more revenue, electronic stores see a 29 percent higher average order value, and hotels see 46 percent more revenue from fully engaged customers.

Gallup also reports that “Companies that successfully engage their B2B customers realize 63% lower customer attrition, 55% higher share of wallet, and 50% higher productivity.”

Making an emotional connection is critical, but it can be challenging to create that connection digitally.

Web co-browsing makes it easier to connect with customers by engaging them in the conversation. For example, instead of having someone sit through a software demo, co-browsing websites allows a sales rep to hand over control so the customer can get actively involved.

No download necessary

Co-browsing technology uses web technology only. This allows co-browsing tools to enable the real-time transfer of audio, video, and other data between browsers without relying on external and or extra software.

No code necessary

While this isn’t the case with every co-browsing solution, Surfly allows users to co-browse websites without adding code to the site. That means you can use collaborative browsing on your website and any other site on the web, including online apps, without making changes to your website. All you have to do is share a link. Need a deeper integration? Check out our co-browsing API.

Improves customer experience

According to Salesforce’s latest “State of the Connected Customer” report, 80 percent of customers say “the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services.” The report also found that good customer service increases repeat purchases and customer loyalty.

Co-browsing technology provides a new way to offer great experiences that will enhance the customer journey. It enables your sales and support teams to be with your customers every step of the way. It integrates with communication tools like live chat and video conferencing software to provide a seamless omnichannel experience.

Securely co-browse websites

Co-browsing software only shares the browsing session, so it presents less of a security risk. This feature is beneficial for companies requiring a higher level of security due to industry regulations (e.g., companies who must carefully handle personally identifiable information to maintain HIPAA compliance).

For example, Surfly is HIPAA, GDPR, ISO 27001, AICPA SOC, and PCI DSS compliant. We only share the original tab of the browser window, so other tabs containing confidential information will not be visible. We also detect and mask sensitive information like credit card details so that participants can enter their data without worrying about privacy.

We also employ TLS 1.3 transport security, 256bit SSL encryption, and audit logs to ensure you stay secure and compliant in all your interactions.

Track details of every session

With Surfly, you’ll have a record of who did what within a session—even if it happened on a third-party website. That means that companies in highly regulated industries like insurance or financial services will remain compliant when their agents co-browse websites.

The limitations of co-browsing technology

Co-browsing solutions are powerful, but they aren’t the right fit for every use case. Three limitations will determine whether co-browsing is right for your business.

  1. Setup may be required. While Surfly doesn’t require additional setup, other JavaScript-based co-browsing tools do. So, if you want users to have access to collaborative browsing without downloading anything and without updating your website, you’ll need to use Surfly.
  2. You can’t share your desktop. When co-browsing , participants are limited to what the user sharing sees in their browser. To access other windows, you’ll need screen sharing.
  3. It doesn’t work with outdated technology. JavaScript-based co-browsing won’t work with older technologies like ActiveX or Flash. For that, pixel-based co-browsing or screen sharing is the best solution.

Does your business need co-browsing software?

Co-browsing software can create an engaging, omnichannel experience. If you’re looking for a simple way to enable your team to make more powerful connections with your customers, this robust visual engagement tool is one to consider adding to your tech stack.

Grow your business with co-browsing