This series of posts is all about building a learning management system business case to help run your customer training programs.
We’ve learned what it takes for a business case to address the specific concerns of senior management and get approval in “The Customer Training LMS: How to Build the Business Case.” Moreover, we’ve learned that a well-constructed business case lays the groundwork for implementation (in “How to Assess Your Training Business“).
Now it is time to develop a compelling vision of the future state of your customer training program.
The reason for an LMS business case
The business case will show that your company will be substantially better off with an LMS for customer training that increases the amount of customer training and results in more customer commitment to your products.
Thus, the burden is on you to develop and communicate a clear and compelling vision of this future state.
As senior management reviews your business plan and LMS budget, it will look for answers to questions about your vision such as:
- Once the LMS is installed, what benefits and efficiencies will our company gain and when?
- How will this decision position us for the future?
- How will we evaluate this in financial terms?
How to construct a compelling, urgent description of your vision for customer training
It is important to (once again) draw upon the same team that will comprise the LMS search team. They are selected or recruited because of their subject matter expertise or constituency. It is their unique backgrounds, perspectives, and insights into the business that will ultimately add credibility to the business case.
Together, this team has to construct a good story, one that begins with concepts and ends with the investment and the return.
The most important ingredient of the business case: LMS ROI
While ROI (return on investment) may seem like an odd measuring stick for an endeavor that doesn’t generate direct dollars and cents for the company, there’s another way of viewing LMS ROI in this context. That’s by measuring the sum total of the effect of training on customer behavior and comparing that against the cost of the LMS and content development.
If the impact is a net positive, then the investment was worthwhile.
At the top of all of these components is ROI. This is what senior management needs to see.
ROI is the bottom line. It is a calculation to evaluate the investment in a new or replacement LMS by showing the amount of impact on customer behavior the investment will generate.
ROI is usually expressed as a percentage: the net return (which can be positive or negative) on investment, divided by the cost of the investment. We’ll cover that in detail in the next article in this series.
Scalable Growth of Your Customer Training Program
The next big issue that cuts across every other aspect of the vision is scalability. Scalability refers to your ability to maintain or improve your performance in profitability and/or efficiency even as sales grow rapidly.
Same for your customer training program. As your customer base grows, self-paced training becomes more and more important because you can’t keep growing your customer success organization and support teams to train more and more customers. Online training and videos are the only way to scale fast enough to meet the need your customers will have for just-in-time training.
There’s no way to keep up with customer training without learning technology in place to help you create self-paced training, update it quickly, manage and track training efforts. If your company’s goals are growth and profitability — and I suspect they are — how exactly will the adoption of a new or replacement LMS lead you to supercharge scalability?
Empower new customers quickly — Automate customer onboarding
Taking your customers on a path towards success requires you to be able to control, distribute and monitor their learning experiences. You need to keep customers engaged through multiple pieces of content to bring them up to speed quickly on your products.
Curated learning paths are used to adhere to specific guidelines around certifications, time requirements, credit guidelines and more. Behind the scenes, the right LMS will help you assemble content produced within the platform in a specific sequence of milestones.
Each milestone has completion criteria so that learners enrolled in each learning path will be guided through their onboarding process in a controlled sequence and manner.
By automating your onboarding experience, you will lead customers to faster “time-to-value” and product adoption.
Focus on self-paced learning — with on-demand training
- Learning paths – the learner’s roadmap to knowledge, achievement and advancement.
- Certification programs – makes your product “stickier”, recognizes mastery, and rewards and encourages larger training purchases.
- Gamification – the use of gaming elements to incentivize learners.
- Software-embedded training, – which allows customers to learn on a live version of your software.
Learner engagement and satisfaction are powerful levers in maintaining and increasing renewal rates. An important resource is 5 Tools to Improve Online Learner Engagement.
Customizing for key customers — multi-tenant portals
It is likely that a small number of your important customers represent a big percentage of your company’s revenue. The more you can satisfy their unique needs, the deeper the relationship and the higher the barrier to competitive entry.
The multi-tenant portal feature of new LMS platforms enable you to deliver content for specific clients, departments or groupings. By creating special pathways that make their product learning relevant and timely, you increase the likelihood of their moving up the learning curve as quickly as possible to use your software more effectively.
Monetization tools – eCommerce and More
Call attention in the business case vision to the use of new LMS’ monetization tools that generate additional and passive income. These could include more advanced training bundles, business-to-business content licensing, packages, and third-party integration options for customer training-related ecommerce.
Certification & Badging
You want to be able to set up completion criteria such as certification rules for different states, the number of hours needed or required levels of experience and skill.
Automating the minutia of customer training related to credentials (whether multi-course certifications or single-course digital badging) is essential for freeing up your customer success team members to stay focused on higher-value work. Plus, you gain better control over the learner’s experience by releasing course stages and milestones at different intervals, times or dates.
Creating just-in-time content — fast and furious
Imagine the current state of content creation: a training team working for days to create three-ring notebooks full of curriculum that require instructor scripts and mocked up screen displays. How well does that model keep up with the pace of your business cycles today?
Now visualize the creation of content that’s agile and focused on short, concise, interactive modular units that can be mixed and matched and replaced as your products change.
The new LMS will provide streamlined content creation with integrated authoring that saves content creators the hassle of learning yet another program. It also enables today’s preference for social and visual learning and can take advantage of a variety of content and pages types, including pop quizzes and assessments to ensure learners pay attention and know that they’ve mastered the concepts.
The next blog in this series will be devoted to calculating your ROI specifically for the customer training LMS business case, step-by-step.