Humans are a resourceful species. But sometimes in an effort to save time and conserve resources, we end up expending more.
It’s the age-old software evaluation question: Do we build in-house or buy an existing platform? Each side has their pros and cons, but they’re irrelevant if you don’t think long-term. What may seem like a leaner option now can end up becoming incredibly cumbersome as your team grows and your list of needs becomes longer. Avoid wasting valuable time, energy, and resources by understanding what your team and your in-house solution will need to make them the most effective.
Know what you’re giving up by building in-house
When you’re building your own solution, you are in control. This is both comforting and an immense amount of pressure. Customer Success is a highly-collaborative function. If you’re building out a solution, it makes sense that you would want it to benefit as many customer-facing organizations as possible to justify the effort being put into it. But, this means having to take input from everyone involved. Finding middle ground in these situations is harder than it sounds.
You also need to get IT onboard very early on. Customer Success requires more than just a few dashboards. A proper CS solution will drive action and automate repetitive tasks. Trying to build from scratch or force-fit Customer Success into a tool you already have takes a great deal of trial and error to achieve success. Opting for a purpose-built solution will provide structure and efficiency and cut down on time-to-value significantly.
Without a vendor to act as your go-to expert, the onus will be on your Customer Success team. By this, we don’t necessarily mean the back-end details (you’ve got an Ops team for that), we’re talking about best practices being driven by the software. When you create your own solution, you forfeit any knowledge that could’ve been received from a purpose-built option. Instead of having to stay up to date with best practices and implement them into your product, buying a solution that’s built for CS comes with the latest best practices baked in.
Understanding the upkeep of an in-house solution
If you have a need for a CS platform, you’re obviously concerned with delivering outcomes and exceptional experiences to your customers. Your Engineering, Product Design, Data Expertise, Cyber-Security, and Project Managers are already providing this for your company. If you choose to create a solution in-house, you’ll either need to pull these people away from their current workload or incur more costs by putting together a new team.
Once your solution is built, you’ll need to dedicate full-time resources to maintain it. CS is constantly evolving, so this isn’t really a “set it and forget it” sort of project. In order to make your homegrown investment worth the time and money, you need proper upkeep. Not only will this new function be tasked with keeping the solution up and running, but they’ll also have to constantly innovate to make sure it can keep up with your team’s growth and the general advancement of Customer Success.
While your in-house solution may work in the short-term, it also needs to help you scale. You may not realize it at the time, but having a clunky in-house solution can actually hinder your growth.
The team behind your “buy” option live in the Customer Success space. They’re sharing best practices that will fast-track everything from implementation to scaling and beyond. Unless you also work with hundreds of Customer Success organizations on a daily basis, you’re missing out on a gold mine of knowledge that will curtail the massive amount of trial and error you may have to undergo.
To sum it up
By buying a purpose-built solution instead of building one yourself (either from scratch or from already-existing solutions) you can:
- Reduce the money spent on additional resources necessary to create and maintain your solution
- Eliminate the risk of scaling incorrectly or hindering growth completely
- Cut down on the amount of time it takes to implement the new solution
- Decrease the downtime that happens while you’re building/implementing your solution
- Reduce the amount of time spent on learning best practices yourself
If you choose to create your solution in-house instead of buying a solution, you miss out on:
- Best practices
- Full functionality
- The ability to scale
Only you know what’s right for your company. But before you go with a solution that works for this year's budget, think ahead at least three more years. Is building in-house worth the increase in resources, the longer timeline, and going it alone? Or is it just a band-aid solution?