Exceeding Expectations with Co-browsing
Why we built Surfly
Our goal is to solve the problem of working together remotely. We understand that solving a client’s problem together has much more value than just fixing it.
In fact, I have personal experience of this as while I was studying artificial intelligence, I worked part time in a tech support role on the side. I remember this one call where I had to instruct a lady to click on a single button, and noticed how incredibly difficult it was to achieve this. This support call was handed over to me from the first line of support, after the first liner already tried for an hour to provide instructions. The lady was simply unable to fully comprehend what she had to do. She was nervous and even crying. I tried to comfort her and patiently guide her, but another hour went by before she finally succeeded in clicking on the correct button.
She was, however, very thankful and even sent an apple pie as a thank you to the XS4ALL office. The problem in itself was not complex, but explaining it was. This call was in stark contrast to a different call I received later that week. It was a difficult problem, and solving it required me to take all kinds of actions across multiple departments. When I informed the caller that everything had been fixed, I was expecting him to be really grateful, but all he said was “OK.”
To me, this illustrates that if the work you put in is not visible to the other person, it is very difficult for them to value that work. More importantly, people expect everything to work, but you can exceed their expectations by working together and helping your clients complete their goals or solve their problems themselves.
Because of this, we’ve built Surfly, a solution that enables you to assist someone remotely on a website without the need to set up or install anything. The magic is in the interaction, not the technology. Our goal is to make our solution fully transparent. The focus should be on the conversation—and this can all take place on your own website or platform, where we just magically make this possible.
CEO and Founder of Surfly
The Evolution of Client Interaction
Customer interaction is evolving from a necessary evil to something that makes your company stand out.
This change has been driven by the evolution of technology. Advancements in technology and efficiency, combined with an expanding global economy, have led to an unparalleled competitive landscape. Because of this advancing technology, customers are more empowered than ever. Before the existence of the internet and online service portals, customers were fully dependent on interaction with an expert or advisor to accomplish certain things. Whether you wanted to book a flight, buy a house or get insurance, you had to visit a physical shop and talk to a representative. Likewise, when you needed help understanding or completing something, you called the company and they would help you.
In the last 20 years, the internet has irreversibly transformed the nature of how customers interact with businesses. Suddenly it became possible to do all these things by yourself. With the internet, you could book your flight online, sell your house online and even transfer money online. At the same time, the role of contact centers changed. There was a strong focus on metrics, like average call time and time-to-resolution, neither of which were customer-centric.
Contact centers served mainly to support customers when they had problems. Emphasis on average call time and time-to-resolution yielded rushed and impersonal interactions. These performance metrics often led to company representatives operating in a solely task-focused manner, which reduced both their work satisfaction and their motivation to help customers.
Over time, companies came to understand that they could optimize the process. The goal was not so much to reduce support, but to improve the online process as much as they could to help the customer complete their transaction. Companies realized that it didn’t make sense to reduce the length of the call if that meant that the customer had to call multiple times to solve their problem. Success in this case was measured by looking at the conversion or first-time fix rate and trying to improve the online funnel to the maximum extent possible.
Today, many companies have shifted their focus toward improving the customer experience. Why? Because fierce competition is making it very difficult to compete on product, process and price. You can already see this happening in online retail—many online shops offer similar products and prices with an almost identical buying process. Now more than ever, it is important to differentiate and invest in the relationship with your client. The lack of an emotional human connection makes it all too easy for your client to simply leave and never come back.
Companies that invest in the client relationship monitor their success by looking at the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures how likely the client is to refer the company to someone else. They also look at the upsell and cross-sell rate. Zappos, American Express and Southwest are excellent examples of companies that provide great customer support. These companies revolutionized the call centers. Their strategy is to create “wow” moments and emotional connections with their customers, rather than merely solve their problem in the quickest time possible. They still monitor metrics, but only as a tool to improve the customer experience. This has proven to be a very successful strategy.
Co-browsing — or collaborative browsing — technology enables a customer service agent to interact with a customer by using that customer’s web browser to share a web page, and document – Gartner
After we started to build Surfly, we learned that people sometimes referred to our solution as co-browsing. Though we’ve adopted this term now, it can refer to a lot of different things. In some cases, people refer to it as “screen sharing”. Other vendors sometimes even use this term to reference things, which—in our opinion—is not really co-browsing at all. For us, co-browsing is sharing a browser view with someone else without the need to install additional software or set up plugins.
By using this definition, screen sharing is a different beast. We do not consider screen sharing to be co-browsing; screen sharing requires that either one or all participants install additional software on their side. The same is true for browser plugins that use WebRTC to share someone’s screen. The goal of co-browsing is to help the website visitor. Anything that requires something else besides web technology creates an extra hurdle, which makes it unworkable in practice. With co-browsing, there are numerous solutions. Let’s have a look at how these solutions differ in what they can achieve.
Co-browsing can be effectively applied to the different stadia of a company. The diagram below shows which co-browsing functionality is generally required for the different stadia.
Stage 1: Event Focus
In stage 1, the company is focused on the efficiency of the contact center. Co-browsing is often offered as a way of reducing the length of a call as an agent is better able to understand what the client is doing and thus able to provide guidance that is more tailored to the caller.
In this case, it is enough simply to be able to view what the customer is doing. Most solutions are able to offer this feature.
However, in order for this to be efficient, the agent must be able to follow the entire process of the client. By this, we mean that if a part of the application spent on the public website and the other part is spent on the ‘logged in’ part of the website, it is very important to ensure that the agent can follow the user across these different components.
Current web applications usually consist of multiple components built by different teams, or sometimes even components that are built externally. If, for example, you have a Google Maps app or a YouTube video embedded in your website, then these function as separate components. With most solutions, sessions cannot operate automatically with these components. Surfly’s unique approach can tackle this with ease.
Stage 2: Transaction Focus
In stage 2, the company is focused on optimizing the transaction. When the goal is to optimize the transaction, it is important that the co-browsing solution is strong enough to fully facilitate this.
Control switching may become increasingly important as an advisor or support agent can then take a much more proactive role during the online session.
Many of the other co-browsing solutions don’t correctly support control taking. To achieve successful control taking, make sure that you test the full flow of your application and website, verify correct functionality on menu dropdowns, date pickers and forms, and test the performance.
With Surfly, we support this out of the box and can optionally mask information to prevent it being viewed by an agent (even on sites you don’t control).
Stage 3: Relationship Focus
When the focus is no longer purely on the transaction but on the client relationship itself, it is very important to be able to solve your customer’s problem, whatever that may be.
In stage 3, the company is focused on building long-term relationships with customers.
And this should not only be limited to focusing on why the customer reached out to you in the first place, but to solving all his/her potential problems by investing in the relationship. The goal in this case is to view problem solving not merely as something limited to the confines of your company, but rather as something that more comprehensively meets the needs of your customers. If you do your best to invest in the relationship, you will surely start to build one. The goal is not to complete the transaction, but to completely satisfy the wishes of the customer.
For example, imagine you have an ice-cream shop, serving the best strawberry and vanilla ice cream in the world. If a customer comes in and asks you for chocolate ice cream, you should not push your other flavors. No, educate the customer about your company but also help him complete his goal of finding chocolate ice cream. You might not convert this customer today, but you will at least be starting to build a relationship with that customer.
To build lasting relationships with customers, you’ll need a co-browsing solution that’s not limited to your own websites and web application, but rather a solution that can help solve whatever problem the user has encountered
Exceeding expectations with Surfly
One good example of a company that has already successfully applied our co-browsing solution is Achmea. Achmea is the largest insurance group in the Netherlands, and they have defined an innovation strategy that they refer to as the “extended value proposition,” and they place the customer at the core of this strategy. Of course their main focus is on their own insurance products across different verticals, but in order to build and maintain the client relationship, they understand that they have to offer more. Rather than just selling insurance, they do this by looking at ways to expand on their core products, by offering advice and tips that help clients, and—even further—help clients with their daily challenges.
Imagine that you’ve just had a car accident and you call your insurance company for help with completing your claims form. These moments are normally stressful and emotional. Right away, you want someone who can help you with this process so that it goes as smoothly as possible. By using Surfly’s universal co-browsing solution, both the agent and the customer can look simultaneously for the nearest repair shop, or maybe even arrange a temporary replacement car online—together. Or imagine that you are planning an event at some hotel, you’ve never been there and have lots of questions about the surroundings. Using Surfly’s co-browsing solution, the agent can show you the hotel’s facilities and also show you how to get to the airport (using Google Maps). Moreover, they can take you to the website of an event organizer which has some pictures on their website that match your requirements. That’s the power of Surfly’s universal co-browsing.