Yesterday’s LMS is not Today’s LMS

Woman looking at a tablet
Mike Daecher
May 31, 2019

The good news
ATD’s recent research report, Is the LMS Dead?: Learning Management Technology in Today’s Organizations found that:

  • A clear majority, 83%, of organizations currently rely on an LMS,
  • With another majority, 73%, stating that their LMS use has risen in the past two years.
  • According to this report, LMS adoption and usage appears to be on an upswing.

The bad news
However, the reality is a bit more complex. Not everyone is happy:
“Consider the following from Forbes: in Deloitte’s most recent research among 700-plus business and HR professionals, corporate L&D received a net-promoter score of minus 8.”
Watch Out Corporate Learning: Here comes disruption
Why? The rise and critical importance of external training
According to 2019 research report from Thought Industries and Claire Schooley, Customer Training Trends: An Industry Growing Rapidly but Still Evolving,
“Customer training is no longer an afterthought, tagged onto a company’s new service or product. Today with so many digital training options available that are self-paced like eLearning, microlearning, video and virtual classroom, the opportunities for training customers are exploding.”

  • “89% of respondents indicated that customer training was extremely important or very important to their company.”
  • “6% of respondents said customer training increased over the past 5 years.”
  • “86% of respondents believe customer training will increase in the next few years. This is a strong indication that companies must provide a stellar experience to their (external) customers through first-class technology learning resources.”

Customers and partners desperately need the training to be good customers and good partners and get the greatest benefit from the relationship. Per Thought Industries report:
“At 53%, customer onboarding is the largest challenge companies face while creating their customer training program. It’s important that they get this right since studies have shown that the faster a customer sees value in a product (time to value) the more likely they will be a long-time customer.”
“61% of respondents said that with training, customers use more of the company product and its features; 50% of respondents said training enabled a stronger partnership with customers; and 45% said customer training reduced customer churn.”
“Even when acknowledging the importance of customer training, only 11% say that a large percentage of their customers (75%+) get enough training to use their products well.”
Older LMS technology is delivering external training dissatisfaction
To be sure, external training is a radically different use case than the one that gave rise to the LMS in the first place. Quite simply, it is only the new, externally-focused LMS platforms that are engineered for the challenges of training customers, partners, supply chain, etc.
Approximately a third of respondents in ATD’s research said their LMS has limited capabilities to meet the challenges of external training.
It gets worse
Trying to push and pull yesterday’s technology to meet today’s external training needs is not satisfying anyone. In the 2017 Enterprise Learning Buyer report from Starr Conspiracy, the average NPS score for current learning technology was minus 57!
What’s needed for external training
The new externally-focused LMS’ have benefited greatly from real-life experience, including built-in advanced tools aimed at increasing learner engagement, which is a powerful strategy to:

  • Ensure that customers and partners complete the course, internalize and incorporate the training
  • Increase their satisfaction
  • Turn learning from an event to a process

These tools include:

  1. In-App Dashboard, which are mini-applications embedded in other applications, giving customers instant access to notifications, information about courses, learning paths, etc.
  2. Certification programs, which are in part, a reward program, but more so, an incentive for partners and customers to stick with your product
  3. Communication strategy, In essence, this is your marketing strategy for communicating with your learners to expand and deepen customer and partner engagement
  4. Learning paths, or the learner’s roadmap to knowledge, achievement, and advancement
  5. Gamification is the use of gaming elements, such as badging, milestones, leaderboards, etc., to incentivize learners

For an in-depth discussion, please reference: 5 Tools to Improve Learner Engagement
That is a win for the learner, the business goals and profitability.
Choose wisely, grasshopper
It is telling that, per ATD, “one in four respondents who use LMSs plan to change to a different LMS.” While there are 300+ platforms available, next-generation LMS’ built to deliver external training are few and far in-between. Several of these, such as the one developed by Thought Industries, could be considered as enabling the expansion of successful, sustainable external training.
If you are doubting the ongoing viability of your current LMS we’d like to suggest 3 steps to a better fit.

  1. What is your use case? If you’re training external customers or partners, don’t select an LMS that’s designed for employee training (and, again, most of them are).
  2. They’re complex. Get used to it. They are engineered to accommodate a wide range of learning methods. Or, if ease-of-use is paramount, what’s getting in your way?
  3. Figure out what you need to be happy. If you’re not satisfied with your current LMS – why? What features do you want that aren’t there? What features are there that you’d like improved? If you could wave a magic wand, what would the LMS have?

The future is external training excellence, and it is within reach
Per Thought Industries’ 2019 Customer Training Trends:
“Also, with the rise of SaaS software, largely replacing on-premise software, unsatisfied customers have found it easy to switch to different products, given that the cost of switching is extremely low. Because of this, software companies, who were 54% of our respondents, tend to be on the cutting edge of customer training, given that the success of their business depends heavily on happy and trained customers.”

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