2015 Prediction: Brands Get on the Same Page as Customers with Co-Browsing

We’ve all had one of those experiences. Those negative online experiences that frustrate you to no end and that you talk about (to your loved ones, at least) for an eternity after it happens. Those experiences that change your opinion of a brand and influence your willingness to do business with it in the future. No brand wants a customer to experience that, but sometimes it can’t be helped. A product is out of stock. Shipping is delayed due to weather conditions. An add-on isn’t available. Stuff happens.

And when that stuff happens, it usually results in a call or email or tweet or Facebook post or some other form of communication to a brand. And some (un)lucky customer care representative or contact center agent must interact with the upset customer. They must stay calm, show concern, be friendly and help resolve the issue as quickly and completely as possible. That can be quite a challenge when the customer is frustrated and the representative has limited information or visibility into what happened. It’s not fun for anyone, and probably something everyone would prefer to avoid.

Now imagine a completely different scenario. A customer is browsing on a website, with a particular product in mind, but he can’t find it. He keeps entering variations on a search term with no results. He is getting frustrated and ready to leave the site when a pop up window appears and Megan, a customer care agent, offers to help. She walks him through the simple steps to allow her to access his web browser, performs a site search, and there it is! The exact product he wants to purchase. Megan adds it to the shopping cart, asks if there is anything else she can help him find and directs him to check out. He thanks her for helping, and she then disconnects from his browser so he can enter his payment information. Voila! With a few easy steps, Megan delighted the customer, saved a sale and helped create a brand advocate thanks to proactive customer service—and a useful tool.

What was this simple and effective tool used to delight the customer? Co-browsing. It’s a great tool to help customers and agents avoid uncomfortable and potentially confrontational interactions. Co-browsing has risen in popularity this year and is being adopted and offered by more brands. I predict that in 2015, co-browsing will come into its own and help more brands get on the same page with customers.

Co-browsing allows agents to offer on-screen help when customers have a question or issue. It’s like having a personal concierge looking over your shoulder—or, better yet, doing the research or completing the transaction for you. Agents can offer dynamic product demonstrations, help with research or shopping and take a customer through to checkout. It’s a time saver and frustration-reducer for customers, as well as an opportunity for brands.

Actually, it offers lots of opportunities for brands. Agents have the opportunity to increase conversion rates, getting customers “off the fence” and making purchases. They can upsell, because they can show other, better products—or cross-sell, increasing the overall sales total. Agents can increase first call resolution rates, keeping customers happy by saving them time. And agents have the very important opportunity to increase customer loyalty by providing proactive customer experience management.

Co-browsing is a perfect example of the convergence of customer service and collaboration. Brands are asking agents to fulfill both sales and service roles and co-browsing makes it possible for agents to be successful in both roles. Agents are able to empathize more with customers, because they can experience what the customer has experienced. It brings a much-needed “human touch” to typically anonymous online interactions—and sometimes that’s just what the customer needs.

I believe co-browsing will become even more critical for brands to deliver exceptional customer experiences. It will soon be more than a “nice touch” and, instead, be something customers expect. And that is truly when it will come into its own.