4 key differences between coviewing, co-browsing and screensharing

06/21/2016 - Beatriz Rojo

When we describe Oct8ne to potential customers and they learn it is a visual experience, we sometimes hear them respond that it sounds a lot like co-browsing or screensharing. People seem to be familiar with both because there are many co-browsing solutions in the market. But aside from being visual solutions, they are different in many meaningful ways.

For those not familiar with co-browsing technology, it is the ability to transmit the actions from one web browser to another web browser. I like to give the analogy that co-browsing is the digital equivalent of one person looking over another person’s shoulder while they are on the Internet.

You can see what’s in their browser, but you don’t know exactly where or what they are looking at within that screen. You also can’t simply point something out to that person on their screen unless, you buttin and take control of his/her computer.

This requires granting permissions and often, a download or install; adding extra steps to the so-called “real-time” experience. Screen-sharing also operates similarly, and is additionally invasive for the recipient as the other person can see everything on the screen and can actually take action in the computer or browser and manipulate sensitive information.

So what is Coviewing technology?

Coviewing creates a shared space in the cloud where two or more people can instantly view content and interact in real-time. It’s a fundamentally different, more powerful experience than co-browsing and screensharing.

Here are 4 concrete areas that separate these technologies:

1. Privacy

Whether perceived or real, there is a privacy concern with co-browsing and screensharing because you have to grant access to your browser or screen. In some cases both parties must download some software to do this.

People naturally worry if someone can look at the same webpage as you, especially if there is private information on that page. Fears are heightened further when someone can see the entire screen, and anything in the actual computer.

Coviewing takes an entirely different, and safer, approach. It creates a shared space in the cloud so no one has to give access to a browser (or your computer, as screen sharing requires).

We call this shared space our “Coviewer.” All of the information in the Coviewer resides in a neutral space. Both the content and conversation between the two parties involved is private and secure.

2. Seeing the same thing

Co-browsing does not always allow you to see exactly the same thing as the other person. Information on one browser can differ from what’s seen by the other person, including:

  • Browser & device capability
  • Identity and location of the user
  • Content outside of the browser
  • Some technology is not always supported, such as java or flash

With both screensharing and co-browsing, both parties may be seeing the same screen or page, but each person can be looking at different content or places within that space.


Co
viewing, on the other hand, ensures that both parties not only see the exact same thing at the same time, but also stay focused together on the desired content that really matters.

This synchronized, real-time focus zeros in on the products, providing the capability to understand and resolve questions better and faster by being able to take action on those images with the simultaneous ability to point, click, and zoom.

That type of interaction leads us into our next point:

3. Interactivity

Another critical difference between co-browsing and Coviewing is the ability for both participants to interact together while having individual control over the experience.

In co-browsing and screensharing, only one person is in control of the browser while the other person observes. That situation is fine in some circumstances, but not when you really want to interact as if you are in the same room.

Coviewing allows each participant to have simultaneous, individual control over the viewer experience. It allows allow each person to independently do things, like search the product database.

An agent can search for a product and immediately drop that product into the oct8ne Coviewer so the customer can see the suggestion and make his or her own actions on that product, such as zoom in for a closer look.

If the customer has a question, the salesperson can highlight a feature by pointing to it, making a mark, or changing images. Nobody has to ‘pass’ controls to the other person, as many collaboration tools do, like Join.me, or Gotomeeting.

In the retail environment, you don’t need to ask permission to show another product or point out key features, so why should you online?

Customers can even add their own pictures to the experience. Imagine a customer wants to find an item similar or matching to one they own or saw a cool product on the street but didn’t know the exact name.

With the Oct8ne coviewer, she can easily upload a picture of it into the viewer allowing the agent to see it instantly, and give them the ability to both point and discuss it. Seeing it will equip the agent with the exact information needed to make a good recommendation.

Done with coviewing, the customer only shares the picture she chooses to show instead of revealing her entire folder of pictures to the agent while making that selection as would be done with a screenshare.

4. Business intelligence

When you are connected to a co-browsing session, you only have access to limited information related to the page you are looking at, the length of the session and the participants involved. It doesn’t allow you to get to the product level, nor does it capture detailed information about interactions, because as described above there is no interaction.

Coviewing technology provides rich information about each session that helps businesses manage their sales. Each session captures information about products, actions, and interactions so that a company knows the who, what, when, where and how of a session.

For example, companies know what products were viewed, in what order, what products were suggested by agents, and if those suggestions influenced the customers purchasing decision. So now a business can know not only know who are their most successful salespeople but also what makes them successful.

Using that information to train other salespeople and test cross-selling and upselling strategies amounts to significant growth for the business.

I believe the ability for two people to truly interact and get product level detail results in huge differences in the customer experience and the ability for an eCommerce company to grow their business. I would love to hear your comments on this topic.

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