Make the Business Case to Move Beyond an LMS for Customer Training: Planning, Assessment, & Defining Your Goals

Thought Industries
Jul 19, 2021 12:55:00 PM

As project leader, you’ve likely made - or considered - the business case for a learning management system (LMS) to be used for customer training. While an LMS can help streamline customer education and training, it can also pose limitations to your ability to scale your program in the long term. Whether your organization has already adopted an LMS or you’re considering a customer learning platform for the first time, it’s key that you consider not only the needs of your current education business, but your organization’s longer-term scaling needs as well.

That starts by assessing the current state of your customer training efforts.

From our experience, the best way to understand the big picture of what you want out of a customer learning platform is by following this three-step process:

  1. Assemble your cross-functional team
  2. Choose an assessment format
  3. Select the topics that make up the assessment

Step 1: Assemble your cross-functional team

The people on this cross-functional team are likely the same folks who originally pitched your existing LMS. They were likely originally recruited because of their subject matter expertise (product training, customer success, etc.) or constituency (professional services, marketing, sales enablement, and product development).

It is their unique background, perspective, and part of the business that is so important to this assessment - so even if you’re assembling a team for the first time, consider what expertise will carry the most value in the assessment process.

Step 2: Choose an assessment format

We often recommend the SWOT analysis model, which is a process that is easy to implement and produces results you can act on. It is designed to help you identify the strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T) regarding a specific tactic or project.

In this situation the project is the adoption of new customer learning technology, which means The assessment of the current state of your customer training is a critical contributor to the business case.

A SWOT analysis is recorded in a grid with four boxes, two by two, as shown here. Discussion points, conclusions, answers, and opinions (such as how we can overcome certain obstacles, or which pain points this would ultimately solve) are recorded in the appropriate boxes.


The matrix is designed this way because strengths and weaknesses are usually interrelated, so they are next to each other. On the next line, any discussion of opportunities must take place alongside the threats, which may undermine the opportunities. This all serves to help your organization develop a complete awareness of the factors involved in the decision to up-level your customer learning technology.

Step 3: Select the topics that comprise the assessment

There are five essential questions to address:

1. How scalable is our customer training business?

If your company's strategic vision is to grow, your product training must be scalable - meaning as your business grows and evolves, your customer learning technology can easily sustain and serve your new business as volume increases. This is a difficult hurdle with most LMS technology; there may still be many manual processes that will eventually cause strain on internal teams, or, if you’re supporting a homegrown LMS solution, you’ll likely face challenges around keeping pace with modern platform features and the growing needs of your customers.

Or, if you're like many extended enterprise training organizations, you rely primarily on instructor-led training, often delivered by Customer Success Managers (CSMs) - which means your customers and partners are sitting in front of a screen watching a live webinar. This approach is very singular, and isn’t scalable - the more you grow, the more time CSMs will need to devote to these training sessions.

Instead, delivery must evolve to forms of digital learning, video and other types of interactive, self-paced training, which supports the way today's learners want to understand new products or services. Your business must become a portal for multiple forms of media that can be accessed any time, any place, and on any device - and that’s a tall order for most LMS platforms in the market

Only a powerful, next-generation customer learning platform can deliver this full suite of digital, scalable features. For a more detailed discussion on how to evolve the in-person approach to your customer training program, check out, "10 Tips to Transform Instructor-Led Training to Online Learning.”

2. What is the ROI of our education business, and how is that trending?

ROI is critical to assess for your overall business as well as every single one of your product lines. The drill-down should examine the trending of important metrics - overall cost, top line, bottom line, etc. - by quarter and by year.

Also, look at projections for the upcoming quarter and year. Are you seeing growth (or lack thereof), and is that growth in line with your company's goals? Are you outpacing or lagging behind your competition?

There's no doubt that interactive, self-paced customer training has the potential to outperform instructor-led training in vital areas, including:

  • Reducing support costs;
  • Increasing adoption of key features;
  • Boosting product renewal rates; and
  • Improving overall customer success.

Use this part of the assessment to also identify inefficiencies, pain points, and errors in creating, delivering, and tracking training that would fuel the argument for new customer learning software..
A big one is that mistakes cost money, and if customer training is being tracked manually, such as through a spreadsheet, your business is not scalable.

3. How thorough and up to date is our training content?

Training content must, above all, drive customer success and reduce cost. Your content needs to meet learners where they are, and be delivered in a format they’ll truly engage with, to ensure the continued success of the product you’re training them on.

Think about your current customer education library: Is there older content that needs refreshing? Are there product gaps that need to be bridged? Find opportunities to not only update content, but find a customer education platform that can make it a simple task to update, track, and manage your library.

It's important that the platform you consider includes integrated content authoring, so that you're not in a position to add a third-party authoring tool to your already-growing tech stack (and ultimately increase your investment)..

4. What's changing in the marketplace and how does this affect our competitiveness?

In the context of training, the customers you want to reach should be thought of as consumers first. And what do consumers want? Nowadays, when they learn, they do it through video, short text and quick lessons they can get off their devices as the situation calls for training.

Can your existing LMS (or spreadsheet, for that matter) accommodate the quick turnaround of content or tracking so that you know what they've already viewed and can recommend other linked topics?

Conversely, as you grapple with this question, it would be worthwhile for you to use the SWOT analysis model to examineNOT moving to on-demand learning and of NOT adopting new software, particularly as it ties to customer renewals, product adoption, and overall customer experience.

5. What is our stakeholder satisfaction?

The most important stakeholders in any company decision are your customers. They're the ones who pay the bills, and without revenue nothing else matters.

Customer satisfaction in training begins with learner engagement. You should look at learner engagement by product line: Are you gaining customers or losing them? Are they pursuing additional education outside of what your own organization provides? What is the lifetime value of that customer and how is it trending?

Then, consider: Do you have the content and courses your customers want and need? Is it delivered in the way they want it, and are customers engaged during experience and satisfied after the training?

For more ideas, read, "5 Tools to Improve Online Learner Engagement."

Three critical success factors for selecting the topics that comprise your assessment:

  • Your Audience: Know who will review and who will approve the business case. Carefully understand what they look for in a business case, and what their criteria is for a positive decision.
  • Precision & Clarity: As you moderate the assessment and ask the hard questions, don't let anyone off the hook easily. Ferret out the real risks, challenges, and rewards that are live under blanket statements. Badger the team until you reach a level of bottom-line specificity.
  • Feasible Logistics: Identify requirements for the transition to a new customer learning platform. How long will it take, who must be involved, and what has to happen? Have the complete plan mapped out as you prepare.

An important source of information for the LMS business case

The reason for this analysis is to assess the current state of your customer training in connection with your current workflow and technology. The detailed outcome of the analysis should be an appendix of the LMS business case.

For insights and data to back up your argument to adopt new customer learning software, download our “2021 State of Customer Education.”

Next in this series, we'll help you build on the baseline you've measured and construct a clear vision of the future state.

63 Questions to Consider Before Selecting a Customer Education Platform


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