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SessionStack began as a session recording tool focusing on a very specific breed of people – developers. Alexander, the company’s founder, was a developer himself so he knew by heart the complete set of problems that the community faced in their daily grunt. A disproportionate amount of his time was dedicated to talking to customers about bugs and issues they were experiencing; replicating these issues was as resource-consuming as their resolution. Having stepped into the shoes of customer support, he decided to use his user session recording software to aid customer success teams, too. And this is how SessionStack’s co-browsing solution was born. Let us take you along on the journey from A to co-browsing…
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These recordings can then be played back in a video-like format, to provide insights into how users are navigating and interacting with a digital product.
When SessionStack began its maiden voyage, there were few vendors who focused on the developer community and its needs; most of the session replay solutions were focused on marketers. So, Alexander and Lachezar gathered a team and started doing what they do best – coding. The result was a solution that resolves the specific set of challenges developers encountered daily.
It all begins with capturing every event on desktop and mobile devices:
Collecting this information is not an easy task, especially if you want to keep the web application running with no impact on its performance. But they did it – and then went further to create pixel-perfect replays that could give developers and engineers the full picture of what’s happening inside their web page or product. Why stop there, though?
We already mentioned that our founders had some (pretty frustrating) experience handling customer support tickets. So, it was a natural fit to try to put their creation to good use not only for developers but CS and CX teams too. How do you do that?
The answer is simple – help CX and CS agents take their efforts one step further and see the browsing session of their users as they were handling the ticket. Apart from that, customers who required someone to take responsibility on the other end (FInTech, banking, insurance, etc) expected live support.
SessionStack was already heavy at work deconstructing the user experience (UX) and reconstructing it in the product’s session replay panel. Couldn’t they make it work in real time? Turns out they could!
To do that, the company had to build an entirely new, real-time technical component based on the recording technology they already had. Taking the lag to ~ 2 seconds on average wasn’t an easy task but it was rewarding. When the replay option became real-time (you can literally watch what people are doing on your website or mobile apps live), the next thing on the roadmap was to make it interactive, too…
Different people have different ideas about what interactive means. For many years, the golden standard for “interactive” customer success operations was screen sharing – an option that only allows the participants to view the user’s screen without actually being able to interact with it. Remote access solutions proved to be very important and effective in situations where the agent needed full access to a user’s desktop. But they also proved to be very dangerous.
At the intersection of these technologies, co-browsing was the light fantastic support teams needed to resolve issues more quickly, often from first touch, and without (lots of) frustration for both parties. Naturally, SessionStack was aware that such a technology is only a step away from a real-time session replay.
The initial draft of our co-browsing technology became available in 2018 and was a very serious step up from our session recording software. Now, customer success and support agents could not only see how a user interacting with their product behaves before they get stuck – they could also help them overcome the roadblock and show them how to better use the product.
Essentially, co-browsing allows both parties (user and CX agent) to interact with the same product instance in real time. Apart from just watching, SessionStack made it possible for CX agents to jump in and offer live support in a truly interactive way.
The most basic tool for this was the pointer – a way to interact with the user interface so that the other party can see exactly what you want them to do. The pointer can attract the attention of the user without actually completing the action for them.
Next up, there was the pen. Similar to the pointer but upgraded, it lets you draw on the user screen to provide better guidance.
And if these tools are not enough to resolve the problem, the CX agent can ask for permission to join in the session with “full rights” – that is, click, scroll or write. This is especially useful for complex UIs and can even facilitate filling out forms and performing actions on behalf of the user. No need to mention that this type of access can be revoked at any time and is constrained to the product instance (session) at hand.
What can a Customer Success team do with co-browsing? While not endless, the opportunities are solid – almost every CX team can extract value from using such a solution. Let’s take a closer look at some use cases.
Support center efficiency is a whole industry in itself – and co-browsing can definitely help with efficiency. Solving a case from the first touch is an art form that can help you retain existing customers and win new ones over. What’s more, you know from first-hand experience that one of the most frustrating things when calling for support is having to explain what happened to a few different agents one after the other. Co-browsing, with its intuitive use and no need to install third-party software, can help leave this frustration in the past. The agent working on the case can securely join in the session while every other agent along the line can view a session recording if needed.
Remember the story of Alexander, SessionStack’s founder? He had to spend more than a third of his time talking to customers instead of coding. Armed with session recordings of all important events and the user context, developers can reduce the time they spend on the phone/chat and get back to their roots, slashing bug resolution times and upping customer satisfaction scores (and their own productivity, of course).
One of the biggest deceptions of “personalization” is when a user is faced with a solution to their problem… that is not a solution to their problem at all. Sometimes, support agents simply lack the context in which a problem has occurred and assume that the problem is a different one. With website session recording tools and co-browsing this threat is literally non-existent. During a live session, the agent can view the exact steps a user takes and thus provide them with highly personalized guidance.
It’s 2023 – and every digital business out there knows that simplifying their UX and UI is key to improving the user experience and thus, their bottom line. But there are some cases in which simple just doesn’t cut it (think about insurance, healthcare, FinTech, etc). In these cases, onboarding is of paramount importance. Nothing helps people learn how to use your product more than you guiding them through the interface in real time – from the basics to the specifics, with co-browsing. The best part is that they can not only see what you are showing them on the screen but do it themselves right there and then (remember the pointer and pen tool?). Learning by imitation makes them pros!
Bonus use case: When dealing with elderly or not very digitally-savvy customers, you can actually help them by filling out forms and doing account setup remotely according to their needs.
Last but not least on our list is the sales team. These hard-working guys will do what it takes to showcase the value of their product. Co-browsing can help them do it more easily – imagine an interactive demo (like the ones where you click following specific prompts) but in addition to this, you also have the personalized experience of a live CX agent walking you through the use cases that are more valuable to you. This combination can up your conversion rate optimization game significantly.
Now you have a good understanding of the use cases that user sessions recording and co-browsing can assist you in, let’s discuss some more technical aspects of the technology.
Yes, you can. Session recording can be integrated with a host of popular debugging and analytics solutions like Sentry, Amplitude or Google Analytics. Co-browsing can also be integrated with your customer service CRMs. If you choose SessionStack, you can use the technology along Zendesk and Intercom for example.
Session recording has been around for quite some time but there are still some concerns about the technology. Here are a few best practices to ensure that both your systems’ security and your users’ privacy are protected.
User session recording and co-browsing can help you level up a broad set of processes within your organization. Product and Customer Success teams can leverage the technology to become more efficient in resolving issues, both retrospectively and in real time. And considering the constant need to provide the best-in-class user experience, the combination of session recording and co-browsing is a surefire way to increase landing page conversion and stay on top of the competition in a product and feature-saturated market.
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