What Is Screensharing: Uses, Benefits, And Drawbacks

Screen sharing is used widely in business, but is it all it's cracked up to be? Here's the low down — and a superior alternative.
Published on: Feb 23, 2023
Last updated: Apr 02, 2024

TL:DR

  • Screen sharing or remote desktop sharing allows two or more people access to view the same computer screen remotely.
  • It is used widely in remote customer support to help users troubleshoot and resolve issues.
  • The uses and benefits of screen sharing in customer support are that it allows problems to be solved in real time, improves customer engagement, and saves time and support costs.
  • The disadvantages are that it lacks multi-cursor screen control, and it can be problematic from a GDPR and compliance standpoint because sensitive information cannot be blurred during screen sharing.
  • Unlike screen sharing, cobrowsing software has none of those drawbacks: it allows agents to control a user's screen and solve issues faster, you can blur out PII and other sensitive information, and cobrowsing vendors like Fullview store all user data in the EU, making their cobrowsing solutions 100% GDPR compliant.

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Collaboration is crucial if you want to create great customer support experiences. But what is the best way to understand and solve a customer’s issues if they’re not in the same room as you? 

While simple support tickets can be resolved after a few screenshots and a couple of messages back and forth, the story is different — and the process more frustrating — for complicated technical support tickets. 

That’s where a technology like screen sharing can make a huge difference. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what screen sharing is, how it’s used in customer support, and its benefits and drawbacks. We’ll also explore cobrowsing, which is a more advanced version of screen sharing that many businesses are turning to due to security and compliance reasons.

What is screen sharing? 

So, what exactly is screen sharing? Screen sharing or remote desktop sharing refers to a technology that lets you share your computer screen with others so they can see what you're seeing.

If you’ve ever attended a conference call, online meeting, or remote presentation, chances are you’ve already experienced or used this technology yourself. 

There are various different technologies that allow this to happen, but at its core, screen sharing involves streaming pixels over an internet connection so other people can see what you’re doing on your computer. 

However, only one person is controlling the screen — the others can only watch while that person navigates, types, submits forms, etc. 

What are the different kinds of screen sharing? 

While the basics are largely the same, there are a few different kinds of screen sharing. These include: 

  • Desktop screen sharing: This is the most common type of screen sharing and allows you to share your entire desktop screen with the other participants on the call. They can see everything you do, including different tabs, windows and screens you navigate to. It also allows them to see all open applications and files. Because sensitive data is not masked, this kind of screen sharing often has inherent security risks.
  • Application window sharing: This allows you to share a specific application rather than your entire desktop, giving you more control over what others see.
  • Browser tab sharing: This is where you only share a specific browser tab, while keeping the rest of your tabs and desktop private. It's a great option when you have to collaborate with coworkers on a web app or give presentations.
  • Document or file sharing: Some screen sharing software includes the option to share documents or files directly with other participants. You can upload and share documents, images, spreadsheets and other kinds of content during this kind of screen sharing.
  • Mobile device screen sharing: Screen sharing is traditionally thought of as something that happens on desktops, but several applications also make it possible to screen share on mobile devices or tablets.
  • Cobrowsing: This is a more advanced and safer option than screen sharing. It allows you to grant someone screen control over a particular browser window or application. Thereafter, all the participants on the cobrowsing call will have access to their own cursor which they can use to navigate, fill and submit forms, and use annotation tools to draw and highlight on the same screen. Several cobrowsing tools, including Fullview, automatically blur sensitive data during a cobrowsing call, which makes them more suitable for businesses that need to stay compliant.

What can you do during screen sharing? 

During a screen sharing session, you can: 

  • Share a tab, a window, a document or your entire desktop so other people can see what you're doing
  • Talk to the other participants on the call with audio and video
  • Send chats or share links with the other participants
  • Use annotation tools to highlight and draw on screen

What can't you do during screen sharing? 

Here are some things you can't do when sharing your screen with traditional screen sharing: 

  • You can't grant screen control access to anyone else or control someone else's screen
  • You can't mask sensitive data from the other participants on the call
  • You can't interact with another person's screen and you won't have your own independent cursor to navigate, click or type on their screen

What are some tools you can use to screen share? 

We've covered this topic in some detail in our 6 best screen sharing tools blog post, but here is a short list of tools you can use to screen share: 

  • Fullview (for cobrowsing)
  • Zoom (for general screen sharing)
  • Teams (for general screen sharing)
  • Meet (for general screen sharing)
  • Salesroom (screen sharing for sales meetings)

Screen sharing vs cobrowsing 

Cobrowsing vs screen sharing

Though often used interchangeably because more than one person can view the same desktop or computer screen during both screen sharing and cobrowsing, they share a few key differences between cobrowsing and screen sharing: 

  • Cobrowsing is a more advanced form of screen sharing.
  • In cobrowsing, two or more people can not only view the same computer screen but can also control it. This means that they can all type, navigate, submit forms, etc. 
  • Because more than one person can control a screen during cobrowsing, it is a much better way to collaborate and work on projects together. Instead of having to verbally instruct someone on what to do, you can remotely control their screen and do it for them.
  • Cobrowsing naturally has a lot of applications in customer support, where much of ticket resolution involves giving users instructions on how to solve a problem or complete a process. 
  • Another difference lies in the technological processes underlying both cobrowsing and screen sharing: while screen sharing involves streaming pixels, cobrowsing involves streaming code, which makes it more lightweight and less data intensive. 
  • A lot of cobrowsing tools also automatically blur sensitive information and give you options to further customize what you do and don't want to show during a cobrowsing call, which makes cobrowsing particularly suitable for businesses that need to stay compliant. Sensitive data that is automatically blurred out includes email addresses, payment information, car licence plates, etc.

We’ve gone into quite a bit of detail about these differences before, so make sure to check out our cobrowsing page for more information. 

Uses and benefits of screen sharing in customer support

As we touched upon in the introduction, since so much customer support happens online, it’s quite natural that screen sharing forms an essential part of many customer support teams’ toolkits. 

Here are some of the ways in which it is used:

  • Screen sharing is used to solve problems in real-time
  • Screen sharing is used to improve customer engagement
  • Screen sharing can save time and money by speeding up average resolution time.

Real-time problem solving

Some support tickets — the simpler ones — are easy enough to understand, explain and solve over chat and email, so at the most, a user would have to send a screenshot to illustrate a problem. 

However, for more complex support requests, it’s not easy for a user to explain what is going on or for an agent to explain how to troubleshoot it over text. In these cases, screen sharing can be a really valuable tool for a support agent to see exactly what a user is experiencing in their app. They can then verbally instruct the customer about steps they can take to fix the problem.

Improved customer engagement

The average ticket abandonment rate — which is when a user opens a ticket by contacting your support team but then ghosts the agent even before the ticket has been resolved — is about 5% for calls and 8% for live chats. While some of that can be attributed to the user figuring out how to fix the problem on their own, some simply lose interest for a number of reasons and churn. 

Screen sharing can help increase customer engagement because it is a more collaborative and visual way to problem solve. In addition to that, it often makes the process of getting an issue resolved much less frustrating for the customer — they can just show you what’s wrong, rather than having to try and explain it. This can lead to better customer engagement, higher CSAT scores, fewer tickets abandoned, and less churn. 

Saves time and money

Screen sharing makes it easier for support agents to understand customer issues because they don’t have to depend on users to explain them — they can just ask to see for themselves. It also helps customer support agents explain to users exactly how they can solve a problem. 

Due to these reasons, using screen sharing can help support teams cut down on the time spent on each ticket. That also means that agents can solve more tickets on average, which saves support costs. 

Drawbacks of screen sharing in customer support

While there are a number of advantages to using screen sharing for customer support, there are also some disadvantages to consider: 

  • No screen control
  • Lack of data privacy
  • Issues with GDPR compliance

The good news is that cobrowsing solves them, but we’ll get more into that later. 

No screen control

Because screen sharing does not give the agent remote control over a user’s screen, it is only marginally more collaborative than resolving tickets over email or chat. 

GDPR compliance

If your support team assists European users or those based in California, it is important to make sure that you’re complying with the applicable laws and regulations around GDPR and similar local regulations. 

However, depending on the software you use for screen sharing, it can be difficult to ensure that all data is being processed correctly and according to those laws. Make sure whatever software you choose clearly lays out its GDPR and compliance policies. 

Privacy issues

When a user screen shares while on a call on platforms like Zoom or Google Meet, there is no option to censor any sensitive information. This can be another aspect that can be problematic in the context of GDPR and similar laws, which have very strict requirements about the processing, storage, and handling of PII (personally identifiable information). 

Cobrowsing: A better screen share alternative

Take the product tour above to see how cobrowsing works in practice.

As we teased in the section above, cobrowsing can be a much better alternative to screen sharing in customer support for the following reasons: 

  • It's more collaborative
  • It can lead to faster ticket resolutions
  • It is GDPR-compliant and secure
  • You don't have to share meeting links — the cobrowsing call happens right within your application
  • Your customers don't have to download anything. They only have to click 'accept' when an agent initiates a cobrowsing call

More collaborative

Since two or more people can control the same computer screen or browser window during cobrowsing, it is a much more collaborative and dynamic way to problem-solve together. 

Faster ticket resolutions

Though screen sharing makes it easier for the agent to see what is going on on the user’s side, they still have to verbally explain how to troubleshoot or solve the problem, which can still be tedious and time-consuming. With cobrowsing, the agent can just take control of the user’s screen and solve the problem themselves, without having to get into long-drawn-out explanations about what to do. 

GDPR-compliant and secure

A lot of cobrowsing tools on the market — like Fullview! — automatically blur out GDPR-sensitive information and give you granular control over what other data you want to blur out during cobrowsing calls. 

No link sharing

Cobrowsing can also increase customer engagement and response rates 2x because users do not have to leave your app during a cobrowsing call if you use a solution like Fullview and they don't have to download another program or tool. When an agent initiates a cobrowsing call with a user who is online, they will receive a pop-up to accept the call straight in your app. 

Wrapping things up

Screen sharing is a huge improvement compared to solving tickets over email and chat because it is a more visual and collaborative way to offer and receive customer support. However, with technology like cobrowsing taking things to the next level, there’s no longer any reason to settle for less.

Author

Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager

Contributor

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