Build vs. buy: 5 reasons companies end up ditching their homegrown solutions for Zendesk

Amidst economic pressure, companies need to control costs. Buying CX software means you can benefit from best-in-breed capabilities without the cost of building them from scratch.

By Sarah Olson, Staff Writer, @seolson5

Last updated May 1, 2023

Lots of companies have asked us: why should we buy a CX solution when we could work with in-house developers to build our own?

Building your own CX solution is time- and labour-intensive, and it requires an ongoing investment of developer resources to maintain. Many of our customers started with homegrown solutions only to realise that their systems couldn’t meet their needs or deliver the ease and efficiency that Zendesk can.

Here are five common reasons that our customers decided to buy CX software.

  1. Built apps have a high total cost of ownership (TCO)

    Building your own app takes a big upfront investment of time and resources before you see any value.

    It can take nine months or more for a team of in-house developers to build the first version of a complex app. It also requires time and effort from internal stakeholders, including IT, security and legal. Once it’s built, you’ll have larger code bases to maintain, which takes developer time away from other areas of the business.

    In contrast, Zendesk’s core capabilities are ready to use right out of the box with minimal setup and your team doesn’t have to work so hard to maintain it. 75% of customers say the Zendesk Suite reduced time spent administering their support solution (Zendesk, 2022).

    75% of customers say the Zendesk Suite reduced time spent administering their support solution.

    Sendinblue, a cloud-based digital marketing platform that supports six languages and 50,000+ businesses, chose Zendesk to replace its homegrown solution. From initial implementation to onboarding agents, rolling out Zendesk Support took about a month.

    “We felt a huge improvement in our daily routine when we started with Zendesk” says Guillaume Rieu, Chief Customer Care Officer at Sendinblue. “We could immediately provide better follow-up to clients on their requests.”

  2. They don’t have enough developer resources to support ongoing maintenance

    Even after the app is built, development is never really finished. Change requests come in. New use cases require more iterations.

    Without dedicated developer resources, maintenance quickly becomes a bottleneck. It can also be frustrating for customers if you aren’t performing regular maintenance or improving your experience.

    GitHub, now the world’s leading platform for software development, initially relied on homegrown solutions to manage support requests from customers and internal employees. But as the company grew, it became too costly to keep dedicating engineering resources to maintain these systems.

    In 2012, GitHub moved to the Zendesk CX platform. Zendesk Professional Services helped the team implement customised apps, marketplace APIs and a Slack integration for ticketing. Those Zendesk optimisations improved visibility, planning and collaboration to keep GitHub’s user base of 50+ million developers in the fold.

    “Without Zendesk’s partnership, we would not have been able to build the integrated and unified support experience we have today” says Barbara Kozlowski, Senior Director of Global Support at GitHub.

  3. Homegrown solutions are too rigid, leading to inefficient workarounds

    Oftentimes, companies start with an in-house solution they build themselves only to find that it’s not extensible. It’s much harder to build a flexible solution that integrates with outside apps, leading to data silos, incomplete information and mistakes.

    To solve this, agents need to spend their time toggling between dozens of apps and developing their own manual workarounds. It takes longer to solve issues and agents can’t work through the ticket queue as quickly – which is frustrating for customers.

    Quote that reads: Out of the box, the Zendesk Suite is really powerful. You create your account, plug in a few things and just get going – which is awesome. And it goes all the way to heavy usage of the API, and even past that is writing customised apps. Jake Smith, Business Systems Manager at Workrise

    Zendesk was built for extensibility and customisation. We help our customers work seamlessly across different apps and databases and give them the tools to build their own customised apps and integrations using the Zendesk Platform.

    Workrise saves $20,000 per quarter from one change using the Zendesk API.

    Workrise, a vendor and workforce management solution in the energy industry, combined Zendesk’s API with out-of-the-box functionality to build a customised solution for their team. The company saves $20,000 per quarter with one change using the Zendesk API.

    These are the types of changes that help companies unlock their growth potential.

    “For us, Zendesk is a necessity” says Zachary Seay-Klatt, Systems Administrator at Workrise. “I don’t think we would have seen Workrise grow to where we are now had we not made the transition onto the Zendesk Platform.”

  4. Business changes are happening faster than ever

    With the rapidly changing technology landscape, including the acceleration of generative AI, companies have to shift their strategies to keep up with this accelerating speed of change.

    Homegrown solutions have long lead times to make changes to processes or adjust workflows. There’s also an added layer of complexity due to the high degree of specialisation that comes with in-house tools. It’s difficult to respond to market changes, and that can be a huge liability.

    AI is a good example. It can take anywhere from $20K to $100K to build and implement your own AI solution. Training an AI model can take six months or more. And even if you’re successful, the final product won’t be able to compete with AI technologies that are already available in the market today.

    Zendesk has already built an AI model based on trillions of data points that our customers can start using out of the box. Our AI takes as little as two weeks to implement and has a 90% accuracy rate. It’s hard to compete with that.

    Riot Games, a video game developer, publisher and e-sports organiser, pairs customised apps with Zendesk AI to deflect tickets that would otherwise require more headcount.

    Harnessing Zendesk’s more advanced technical capabilities, the company rapidly scaled to support 100M+ active users across a dozen regions internationally – and reduced player wait times thanks to AI.

    “I’m a huge proponent of Zendesk” says Shaun Randall, Support Engineering Product Manager at Riot Games. “There have been times when someone said ‘hey, we could build our own version of Zendesk’, and I say ‘no; what are the chances that we’ll be able to make something that can keep up with Zendesk’s innovation?’”

  5. Security and compliance become too complex to manage

    Security and compliance are critical for all businesses. As companies scale to serve more customers across multiple regions, it becomes increasingly complex to monitor local and regional requirements and keep in-house solutions up to date.

    Compliance is a shared responsibility and it helps to have an experienced partner you can trust. Zendesk has robust data security and privacy policies and features built into the product to help you on the path to compliance.

    Zendesk provides enterprise-class security features and we use comprehensive audits of our applications, systems and networks to ensure that your data is protected.

    Inovalon, a leading provider of cloud-based software for healthcare, uses Zendesk to harness the power of automation while maintaining compliance in a highly regulated industry.

    From strict compliance measures to tight government deadlines, the technical support team sometimes encounters sensitive health information that requires careful handling. They used Zendesk’s API to build a customised app that integrates with their existing identity management platform, which saves them time while ensuring customer data is protected.

    “By deploying automation, we built the compliance process into Zendesk, which made notification, approval and ticket documentation so much easier” says Brian Blumenthal, AVP of Customer Support at Inovalon. “We cut 700 hours of operating time down to five minutes using macros [in Zendesk]. Now the team can take on more workload and scale as needed.”

Why buy Zendesk

For over 15 years, Zendesk has been building innovative CX capabilities that help our customers solve business challenges and unlock the power of customer interactions.

When you buy Zendesk, you get access to best-in-breed CX capabilities without the cost of building them yourself. You can skip the development timeline and instead focus on optimising your workflows and building customised apps to deliver even more value.

Differentiate your CX: a discussion on building vs. buying

Join us for a webinar on key factors leaders should take into consideration when building or buying CX solutions.

Differentiate your CX: a discussion on building vs. buying

Join us for a webinar on key factors leaders should take into consideration when building or buying CX solutions.

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