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Visual Customer Engagement: Glancing Beyond Co-Browsing

The ability for agents to co-browse the desktop Web pages or mobile app screens customers are viewing has created a significant business, with some estimates suggesting this market is approaching $1 billion in sales annually. Although co-browsing has been available for a long time, there’s a demonstrably better way of enabling co-browsing in the contact center.
Last month at Enterprise Connect 2019, I met up with Glance Networks, a company I first encountered nearly 15 years ago. At that time, Glance billed itself as a simple, inexpensive “see what I see” alternative to Cisco Webex, LogMeIn’s GoToMeeting, and the like. At Enterprise Connect, Glance convinced me that it had transformed itself into a visual customer engagement solution worth noting.
Three Competing Ways to Co-Browse
Most of us have used some type of co-browsing for “seeing what I see” at one time or another. This technology is really at the heart of many of the desktop collaboration and Web conferencing tools we use to share screens. For customer support, co-browsing can be extremely useful because it allows an agent to see what the customer is viewing and provide guidance on what to do and how to do it. I’ve personally used a number of these co-browsing solutions for a manufacturing business in which I have interest.
There are basically three ways to do screen sharing, which I briefly describe below.
Generating Screenshot Representations of Web pages
One obvious way to co-browse is to send a snapshot of the Web page or mobile screen across the network using an application both parties run. Under the hood, this application uses the page’s document object model, or DOM (the HTML and CSS feeds), to create a representation of the page, as opposed to taking a real screenshot. Because the application doesn’t really render the page, the screenshot may not be 100% accurate as to the page’s actual display. The application will transmit the image at some predetermined frequency to imitate movement or animation on the Web page, a capability that you could refer to as Lo-Fi video.
This method is simple, but it has some drawbacks.
First is that such an image would typically be compressed before being sent, and that process would affect viewing quality on the far end. For example, expanding the image would likely cause pixilation that reduces image fidelity.
Second, Web application security models require all graphics on a rendered Web page to reside in the same origin, which is defined as a combination of URI scheme, host name, and port number. If they aren’t in the same origin, they won’t be readable. This policy prevents a malicious script on one page from obtaining access to sensitive data on another page through that page's DOM. This means that graphics from multiple sources outside of a page’s origin won’t render.
Third, annotations don’t work well in this scenario: If an agent circles a place on the screen or draws an arrow, these markups often won’t display very well.
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