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​​Co-browsing (also known as “co-watching”, “collaborative browsing”, and “side-by-side browsing”) is a service where a user can give others access to their screen in real time, as they are navigating an application or a website.

Co-browsers allow two or more people to collaborate on a computer screen together. Co-browsing capabilities are typically used during digital customer journeys and onboarding experiences to create seamless delivery that closely resembles an in-person experience.

Co-browsing is commonly used in customer service, enabling technicians or agents to troubleshoot issues or help customers along as they navigate through a digital service.

For example, if a customer is having trouble logging in to their account, they can be helped by a technician who sees the customer’s screen  in real-time and helps them fix the issue. Co-browsing can also be used to boost adoption of new solutions by demonstrating how to use a new application or website.

Co-browsing can be used on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.

Types of co-browsing

There are a few different ways to co-browse. Co-browsing is available as a standalone software application or as a feature in web browsers and communication applications.

The most common type is a co-browsing tool, which is a software application that allows two or more people to share a screen and chat with each other. Co-browsing tools are usually web-based, meaning they can be used from any device with an Internet connection. 

Another way to co-browse is to use a web browser extension or plugin. Extensions and plugins are usually specific to the web browser that they are used in, so not all web browsers have them.

Finally, co-browsing can also be used during a video call. This is done through  a service like Skype or Google Hangouts, and it allows people to share their screens with each other during a video call. A video call is the most immersive way to co-browse, as it allows people to see and hear each other in addition to the screen sharing.

Co-browsing is a great way for people to collaborate, whether they are in the same room or in different corners of the world. As the world is shifting into a hybrid way of working, co-browsing is an important tool that allows employees and customers to connect and create that in-person feeling in digital space. 

One-way vs two-way co-browsing

Several browsers have begun to offer co-browsing capabilities under one of two models: "one way" or "two way". 

One-way co-browsing involves sharing the screen of one party only. One way co-browsing is usually used for demonstration purposes. For example, when someone is giving a presentation, one-way co-browsing is usually used. It’s also commonly used in customer support. A technician might use one-way co-browsing to help a customer solve an issue.

Two-way co-browsing allows both browsers to share their screens simultaneously. Two-way is usually done when two people are working together on the same project. Collaborative software such as Figma or Google docs offer two-way co-browsing whereby multiple users can edit the same document in-real time.

Two-way co-browsing tools often support collaborative features that can be used by both parties, such as freeform drawing, text chats, video chats, and file sharing. 

One-way co-browsing is typically used in situations where one person is helping another, while two way co-browsing is typically done in collaborative situations where both people are working together to accomplish a task or goal.

Co-browsing applications 

Co-browsing is becoming widely adopted in customer service. It allows organization’s employees from sales, customer service or customer support to see what the customer is seeing in order to guide the user through any issues. 

Some examples of co-browsing applications are:

  • Sales demos: so-browsing tools can also be used in the sales process to help potential customers understand the product. 
  • Employee onboarding: Co-browsing tools also help in the onboarding process when new employees are being introduced to their company's software.
  • Customer service: Co-browsing is becoming increasingly used in customer service, whereby customer support agents can see what is happening on the customer's screen, take control, highlight, fill in or select something which then appears on the customer's own browser screen in real-time.
  • Collaboration: Co-browsing allows employees to share what is on their screen with one another in real-time, whether they are standing side by side, working over the phone, or working from home.
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