What consumers want in a LMS – can you say WOW?

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In this time of summer (well, not here in SF..brrr), the annual rite of passage is in full swing. What is such passage?

LMS buying time. Yep, that’s right, an upswing of people seeking LMSs are often in full bloom.

With this knowledge comes the avalanche of hyper sales, vendors are exploring ways to gain your attention.

Attention that is often missed without their knowledge.

The WOW factor

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the industry is the lack of WOW despite consumers repeatedly asking for it.  In the last several weeks, I have had consumer clients tell me that they are seeking a system that has such a factor.

Whether they are using their system for employees, B2B market or a combination of both, this is becoming the standard rather than the secondary.

However, I can’t tell you the number of LMSs that just seem to miss the mark on it.

It is not because they lack a robust set of features, rather they are failing to understand that consumers want to entice folks to use their system first and foremost and the easiest way to do it, is with a WOW.


In one study, potential job candidates were being interviewed for a job. Both candidates had the skills required for the position. Both candidates gave the exact same answers to the questions and both candidates were highly qualified for the position.

But every time, the more attractive candidate received the job offer. It wasn’t because they were more qualified nor more engaging. It was because they were more attractive.

Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas found that attractive people get hired faster and are more likely to receive raises faster than unattractive people (Wall Street Journal, 10-11).

What does this mean from a LMS perspective? 

If society as a whole perceives that more attractive folks are more likely to succeed than unattractive folks, why wouldn’t they perceive that a WOW LMS is more likely to impress upon others and thus attract more learners than a system that doesn’t?

This lack of WOW equally hurts in the demo. I don’t care how awesome your system is, if you show a vanilla demo and tell folks well it can look like this or that, folks just won’t see it as that.

Again, it is not because they cannot grasp it, rather the brain cannot. 

The brain sees vanilla, an unattractive look not a system that is beautiful and an eye catcher.

True not everyone sees it as this way, but more folks than less do. 

Thus is should be a concern to every vendor who shows off a system that is stripped off its looks to entice buyers.

The most common responses I hear from vendors are

  • We customize the system to meet the needs of the client
  • Our current clients have said they like our current look and have never said they it needs a change

What they are missing

The goal of any system is to increase their revenue and profit rather than loss. If you are always customizing your system for every client (without heavy customization which vendors will charge), your bottom line has to take a hit at some point.

There are ways to avoid this and yet still provide a front end that their customers will love, without impacting your cash flow.

I have had clients who heavily customize for every customer and each time they tell me the same things

  • It has affected our bottom line
  • It is eating into our cash flow
  • We cannot compete with other systems

Here is the thing – you can compete with other systems without mass customization and still have net profit to boot.

As for the other argument that your current customers are not asking for this change or have stated that they like the current UI, I post these questions to you:

  • If the current client has never seen what is possible, than how would they ask for it? For example, one vendor told me that their clients have never asked to have a TOC and thus have no issue with a linear system. They also told me that their clients are typically new to e-learning and even training.

If this is the case, than how would they know that a TOC and therefore a non-linear system is the common thread in e-learning? If I didn’t know, I wouldn’t request it, would I?

I had a client tell me that their current customers loved their front end and never stated otherwise to them. Based on my assessment of their system, I provided a detailed analysis with some suggestions on how to improve their solution. One of these involved a design enhancement.

The result? Current clients loved it and told them so. Even though they were using the system and never inquired about this enhancement, the change only improved the experience. Guess what? They also saw an increase in sales.

New Customers

  • Your goal is to attract new customers and if you are not landing every lead, how likely are they to tell you that the reason is because the system wasn’t enticing to them? Heck, how many of the leads that you fail to land via a RFP or otherwise even respond to your inquiries on why you were not selected?

The reality is that most clients leave for the following reasons

  • Your system constantly has bugs and issues
  • Your support and service stinks
  • Your UI is confusing and difficult to use

Do you see a trend here, because I do. Each one of these items are fixable and each one ties into the customer experience.

Bottom Line

The quote, “a rose is a rose” means that not everything has another meaning. It is what it is.

If your system doesn’t have a WOW factor, you can sit back and repeat a rose is a rose to your heart’s content.

You can say that your current customers do not request it. That your system is an extension of beauty that is contained within and if we can get them past the front door we will close them.

Many will never knock on that front door so you will never know.

Is a rose just a rose?

I’ll let you answer that.

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  1. There are many factors which customers need in an LMS. The LMS must be made seeing to all the requirements of the customers and must also be user friendly. Thanks for sharing this post.

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