Session replay & recording tools like Fullview give support agents, product teams, and developers much-needed context to solve user issues.
Published on: Jun 12, 2022
Last updated: Jul 12, 2024

What Is Session Replay: Uses, Benefits & GDPR in 2024

TL:DR

  • Understand how your users are experiencing and interacting with your platform is crucial if you're going to succeed as a SaaS business.
  • Session replays (also known as session recordings), which is a technology that allows you to record and playback user sessions in your app, can help you see user behavior, bugs and other issues in context.
  • There are a number of reasons session recordings can be an invaluable tool for SaaS businesses — they allow your product team to track user pain points, help your support team reduce time-to-resolution and improve CSAT, and give you a 360-degree video of user behavior in your product.
  • You'll also need to be aware of GDPR concerns when implementing session replays — we'll cover everything you need to know in the last section of this blog post.

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What are Session Replays? 

Nothing is more crucial to the success of a SaaS company than understanding exactly what your users are experiencing while they’re in your product and how they interact with it. 

What you glean from these interactions can be used to: 

  • Identify recurrent issues 
  • Recreate bugs
  • Employ timely fixes 
  • Offer proactive support 
  • Identify and reduce pain points
  • Increase product adoption
  • Increase retention rates
  • Increase recurring revenue 

But what’s the best way to watch and record these interactions? Using session replays & recording technology (we've covered the best session replay apps here).

Session replay is a technology that creates videos of users while they are in your product and records their interactions within it. 

Though the mechanism isn’t quite so simple (as it involves logging and recreating DOM events), you can think of a session replay as watching a screen recording from your user while they are interacting with your product.

This screen recording will show you: 

  • Your user's mouse movements
  • The pages a user visited on your website or app 
  • How far they scrolled down a particular page 
  • How quickly they scrolled
  • How they interacted with elements on a page 
  • Where they clicked on a page 
  • How fast they clicked off your app or webpage 
  • If they showed signs of frustration, by rage clicking, for example. 

3 reasons why session recordings are an important tool for SaaS

As we’ve mentioned previously, there’s nothing more important to a SaaS organization than understanding how its users are interacting with the app. Session replays are a great way tool to understand just that. 

Diagnose and track user issues

Because session replays make it possible for you to see the entire user journey from start to finish as your users experience your product in real-time, they are an invaluable resource for when you’re creating and refining your user journey and support touchpoints. They make it easy to see, at a glance, where users are losing interest and leaving your app or getting frustrated and rage clicking. You can then proactively offer support and fix issues before they become major sore points with your users. 

Reduce resolution time

Once you have a way to proactively identify the exact problems your users are facing in-app by using a session replay & recording tool like Fullview, it makes the work of closing support tickets — and recreating and fixing bugs — so much easier and faster. This is primarily because so much time is wasted in back-and-forth conversations between users, support agents and developers. Session replays make this back-and-forth completely unnecessary, which means less work for both your support agents and developers, less burnout, happier workers and happier users. 

The full view 

Analytics tools like GA are great and definitely have their place in the SaaS arsenal, but they fail when it comes to understanding user behavior in the context of their journey and experiences with your product. Will metrics like bounce rate and pages per session can give you a top-level view of how your website or app is performing, nothing beats session recordings that can give you the complete picture of user behavior. 

3 ways in which session replay can be harnessed for SaaS Success

There are a number of ways in which the wealth of data that a session replay tool like Fullview provides can be harnessed to improve CX and boost retention and revenue. 

Improve CSAT Scores

High CSAT scores are vital to the health and sustainability of any SaaS business. Improving them over time needs to be made a top priority. Session replays can help you improve CSAT scores by: 

Reducing resolution times

The faster you identify a problem, the quicker you can solve it. And by far the fastest way of discovering issues is watching a session replay. By allowing you to bypass the long back-and-forth conversations between users, agents and developers, session replay tools allow you to dramatically improve response times. 

Providing proactive support

Understanding your user journey is key to strategizing what kind of support to offer when – and to whom. Your agents and product team will no longer have to wait until issues become noticeable enough to be flagged by users. By watching session replays, they can proactively diagnose issues and reach out to users to offer a helping hand. 

Aggregate data

Session replay tools allow you to aggregate data across multiple user interactions, so it’s easier for your product team to identify problem areas and deploy targeted fixes. 

Save time

Some session replay tools (like Fullview) automatically flag sessions where users encountered errors or bugs — or sessions where signs of frustration like rage clicks were detected. This saves your agents time and helps they see exactly which users need help at a glance. They can skip periods of inactivity when watching a replay, skip directly to errors and issues, and share the replay with team members at the touch of a button.

Improve Retention and Revenue Metrics 

Retention and revenue rates are other important metrics SaaS companies need to constantly strive to improve. Here’s how session replay tools like Fullview allow you to do just that: 

Optimize conversion rates

Marketing and sales teams are always looking for better insight into what parts of the funnel are failing to convert website visitors into sign ups. Session replays should be an important tool in their arsenal to determine just that. Watching them back can help sales and marketing teams identify user pain points and improve elements or pages that are performing poorly. 

Improve onboarding

Signups failing to convert into paid users? Session replay tools like Fullview can give your product team much needed insight into parts of the onboarding process that are causing users to become frustrated and abandon your SaaS platform. By constantly monitoring session replays, product teams can continually tweak and optimize the onboarding processes and pave the way to user success! 

Improve bug detection and deploy fixes

Long back-and-forth discussions between developers and users, with non-technical support agents often acting as the middleman, are tedious and inefficient. Session replay replaces all of that with an easy and streamlined way to detect bugs and deploy fixes. 

Identify and reproduce bugs faster 

Your developers will no longer have to depend on support agents without a technical background to file manual bug reports or explain users issues verbally. With session replay tools like Fullview, they can easily watch user sessions to see exactly what bugs or issues the user was confronted with and what these issues looked like on their screen. They can then use this to quickly and efficiently reproduce bugs. 

Deploy proactive fixes 

Developers and product managers should also make it a habit to regularly watch session replays to identify issues before they cause enough frustration to be flagged by users. By doing so, they can employ proactive fixes and continually make improvements to the product to meet user expectations, without even having to ask! They can also use session replay tools to determine whether bugs are a one-off issue or a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the product.

How do session recordings work?

Session replay tools work by collecting DOM events and recreating user mouse movements and steps. Take the demo to see a session replay tool in action: 

How to identify the right session replay tool

Since session replay tools are more popular than ever, many players have entered the market and it isn’t always easy to identify which one solution to settle on. Here are some key things to ask yourself (or your vendor) when evaluating the different solutions on the market. 

  • Is the tool easy to implement?
  • Does its feature set justify the cost?
  • Does it have minimum infrastructure impact or will it negatively affect load speeds on your app?
  • Does it take user privacy and GDPR compliance seriously by blurring out sensitive information, for example?
  • Does it feature robust integrations so you seamlessly include it in your workflows? 

We've gone into more detail about each of these points here.

Session replays and GDPR

Another important thing to consider when you implement a session replays tool is GPDR compliance: 

  • GDPR compliance is crucial for any digital company 🔒
  • Most session replay products collect GDPR-sensitive information, so explicit consent from users (in your T&C's) is important 🛎️
  • Most session replay solutions offer privacy settings and hide certain information, but not always with custom setups 🔏
  • Fullview Replays is one of the few session replay products based in Europe 🌍
  • All Fullview data is stored on servers in the EU 💼
  • We help our customers remain GDPR-compliant by providing a data processing agreement to all European customers 📝
  • We maintain the highest standards when it comes to data security and encryption 🔑
  • Your users' data and recorded replays can ONLY be seen and accessed by people in your organization 🙈

GDPR has implications for every company with an internet presence, but especially for software companies considering recording user sessions to improve UX, marketing or customer support.

Before we dive into why GDPR compliance is so important to adhere to when you implement a session replays solution, let's summarize what GDPR is.

Quick disclaimer: this isn't legal advice. If you are concerned about GDPR compliance, please speak to a lawyer or consultant who specializes in GDPR and compliance law.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a legal framework that the European Union put into effect in 2018 to make it easier for European citizens and residents to gain control over the data that is collected about them and opt-out of this collection.

To put it simply, GDPR makes it harder for companies to track your movements around the web and collect data about you that you do not explicitly give them permission to collect. However, not all data falls under the purvey of GDPR. Only personal data, which is any data that relates to an individual and can be used to directly or indirectly identify them, is covered. This includes names, email addresses, gender, address and the like.

If you record any of this data, you will need to ensure that you are GDPR compliant.

Does GDPR apply to recordings like session replays? 

The short answer is yes. Because session replay recordings often record information that would be considered personally identifiable data, GDPR applies here, as it does to recordings of any kind: audio recordings, Zoom meeting recordings, HR recordings.

So what can you do to stay compliant if you want to make use of session replays tech at your company? Make sure you are choosing a session replay provider that has a robust and transparent security and compliance policy, like we do at Fullview. You can see our security and compliance page for more.

Since Fullview offers a session replay product that doesn't anonymize data, we get this question a lot: will I still be GDPR compliant if I use Fullview? The answer is yes!

Fullview is one of the few session replay vendors on the market that is based in Europe without a US parent company, meaning we adhere to rigorous standards when it comes to GDPR compliance and data protection.

Here's just some of what we do to ensure our users remain GDPR compliant if they choose to use us as their session replay provider:

  • All user data is stored on servers in the EU (in Germany)
  • GDPR-sensitive information like email addresses, phone numbers and payment information are automatically blurred out during a session recording.
  • We offer a Data Processing Agreement to all European customers.
  • All of Fullview’s data is securely stored with Amazon Web Services which is fully automated and monitored by continuous functional tests to detect any sort of downtime.
  • All user data is stored using Amazon Cognito. Data within Amazon Cognito is encrypted at rest in accordance with industry standards.
  • Our SSL connection encryption maintains an A+ grade from Amazon Web Services.
  • For backup purposes Amazon has a dedicated service called AWS Backup. See more info here.

Rest assured that most reputable session replay companies take this very seriously and they also detail their policies on their websites, so make sure you do a little digging before choosing which provider to go with. If you're a European company or a significant proportion of your user base is in Europe, it's easiest and safest to choose a session replay provider based in Europe, like Fullview.

What about other privacy laws?

GDPR is one of the strictest privacy and personal data management laws in the world, therefore meeting GDPR requirements will often mean that you will be compliant with many other privacy laws, like California's CCPA or Brazil's LGPD. That being said, if there are specific markets you want to ensure compliance for, you should rely on professional advice form lawyers and consultants.

Wrapping things up

Session replays are an important tool for SaaS organizations to understand user behavior, diagnose issues, reduce resolution time, aggregate data, and improve retention and revenue metrics. As session replays record information that would be considered personally identifiable data, GDPR compliance is crucial when implementing a session replay solution. Fullview offers a robust security and compliance policy to ensure GDPR compliance and data protection. Companies can use session replays to improve user experience, optimize CSAT scores, and increase revenue by proactively identifying and addressing issues before they become major sore points with users.

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