Ahem.  You are failing to hear my words. You are not listening to me. This is not what you showed me.  The salesperson told me this and what I got was not what they told me. Your support stinks. What? I have to pay extra for that? 

Your platform is not working.  I found some bugs here and they are not the crawly kind.  My issue is important and your tech people have not responded.  I ordered a hamburger without cheese, got home and it has cheese on it. (I was just seeing if you were paying attention. But is it me or do you often get ripped off going drive-thru?)

Complaints – Legitimate Gripes

As someone who has had the wonderful experience of buying (leasing) a LMS and the issues that arose beyond that, I can tell you that I feel your pain.  There is nothing worse that spending the money, selecting the system, implement it, then it runs into problems and your end users – blame you.

You buzz the assigned project manager or tech support person and listen to the whole “we hear you” and get back to you verbiage. Then you wait and wait some more. In 30 minutes you have had it – “It must be three hours now. Why are they not calling back? Don’t they realize that people are complaining?”

Next you call your salesperson and chew them out like a piece of meat that has too much grizzle.  You want and expect results or there will be hell to pay.

They listen. They will solve it.  They hang up.  Then they do one of four things:

  • Call tech support and see what is going on
  • Write it on a piece of paper and say to themselves, I will e-mail/call support later
  • Do nothing
  • E-mail support and hope someone responds

Meanwhile you are quite content and say to yourself, “I showed them”.  Right.

#5  Salesperson says one thing then fails to back it up

I hear this complaint all the time from end users.  As a complaint goes it is always in the top ten of gripes. What makes me sick to my stomach (or maybe it was that chili) is that this gripe has been around since LMSs arrived on the scene.

Now there are plenty of salespeople who are honest, and truthful, but it only takes a small group of nefarious humans to ruin for everyone else.

If you think “nefarious” is too strong of a word, trust me, if this happens to you, the term will be rated G compared to what comes out of your mouth.

What drives this approach?

I see two factors:

  • Person really doesn’t know the product inside and out and so they tell you want you want to hear. “Yep, our system works all the time with Oracle.” Then you find out that they have to heavily customize it – charge extra – and the interface is buggy
  • Person is all about sales and not about you. I know of some highly seasoned salespeople that do this frequently to potential clients

#4  Demo Dupe

I seriously believe the song “I never promised you a rose garden” was written by someone who once worked at a LMS company.  The demo switcheroo is a big time gripe.  It follows a similar style

  • You see an amazing demo with all the bells and whistles
  • You hear the tell, you are drooling
  • You buy the LMS
  • It doesn’t come with everything you saw in the demo
  • You are mad
  • The salesperson says, “Oh, didn’t I tell you that” OR “Yes, I mentioned that in our call” – of course you remember they didn’t

#3  The system costs more than what they quoted me

I always remind people to have their pricing itemized with each factor listed – (i.e. 1,000 seats, 500 active per month – $20,000), tech support 9 to 5 EST (free – included at no charge), 20 project management hours (no charge), webinar training ($500 for three sessions), an autograph by the CEO (priceless – no I’m just kidding).

However, I have seen quotes that drop everything together including the discount OR itemize some items and not others  OR some itemization and some stuff written within a paragraph – which people often skim.   One of the zingers that appear frequently is the API angle.

You ask if they can integrate your APIs (on whatever). They say yes. They fail to mention that it will cost you X dollars per API and it will take six weeks to add one.  The latter is becoming a common gripe.   I remember seeing some pricing online by a LMS vendor and then when I got the contract it had different pricing on it.  You see they had items you needed but they did not mention it on their web site.

What items fail to appear often when people post or tell you about their pricing?  Setup costs – and they can be anywhere from inexpensive to outrageous – even for systems that are low cost.   Skinning for additional portals/tenants, etc. E-commerce – especially those who charge a yearly price.

Removing their name from the platform.  See the price doesn’t mention that it costs extra to pull their name – so when you ask for it (and you should always find out) they will pull a rabbit out of their LMS hat and tell you it costs ABC (please realize that for the majority of vendors they remove their name at no cost).

#2 Not listening

I often wonder why LMS vendors have their salespeople focus more on their qualifiers than asking the right questions first before “seeing if you are ideal for them”.  How about, “how many employees/customers will be using the system.” There are some vendors who will only deal with clients who have over 10,000 employees – so this quick qualifier will streamline the process. Or there are vendors who only work in certain industries/verticals. So, asking what is the client’s industry would take care of that.

But noooo. You have to listen to a series of qualifiers to see if you are the right fit – whatever that means. Listen, assuming that the two qualifiers above are not factors, unless you are from Planet Neptune and have 65 eyeballs you will qualify – and even in my Neptune weird creature example – you will find plenty of vendors who will take you.

I once had a boss who would say, “I know you can hear me, because I can hear my own words.”  I think this should apply to every salesperson who is pitching their product.

#1 Tech Support

  • Company receives issue via e-mail, support center or phone – or any combination
  • Company place the issue into its queue
  • Company sends e-mail to whomever is the LMS administrator or contact person – notifying them they received the issue and are working on it
  • Company using their own tech priority level – rates the issue, low, medium, high or for some clients – get it fixed now
  • If it is low, you have a better chance of hearing crickets then getting it solved in a day or so – but don’t worry you may get multiple e-mails telling you it is being worked on
  • If it is medium, someone is doing something about it, but it still may take a day or two to solve it
  • If it is high or get it fixed now – then someone or some folks are busting their buns (it is a Rated PG site here) to solve it. They may follow up with you or your LMS administrator for more information and even have you on the call for a period of time or whatever.  Typically they follow up via the phone, your salesperson may step in and follow up too – after all you probably sent them the issue too
  • If the issue takes more than a couple of days – it is likely that you have contacted tech support to complain and even talked to your salesperson. E-mails do not apply here – although what does it hurt to send one to tech support, your salesperson, the head of tech support, even the head of sales, etc.
  • Issue solved.
  • Then next time, you re-live the experience again

Excluding massive bugs or issues that are totally brand new to the company, tech support should be relatively quick and painless. There is a reason why some vendors have a knowledge base, community forum moderated by company employees and super users, and other – they are trying to minimize phone calls to tech support – because – it costs them money every time someone calls or sends off an e-mail to solve a problem.

Rather than hiring 45 salespeople, why not hire more than five tech support/customer support people to solve the customer’s issue? 

For clients – the only people who should contact tech support are either the LMS administrator, whoever is running training or e-learning division or a combination of both.  I’ve actually heard horror stories where the customer allows anyone to call their vendor’s tech support.

This should never happen.  Also, there are plenty of times when the tech issue is due to the client and not the vendor. 

For example, I recall a few folks telling me that their system didn’t work with Windows 2000 (yep, they had it on their computers and it was a large size public company). The LMS didn’t support it.

I remember asking them if they asked the vendor if it worked with Windows 2000 – guess what? They didn’t.

Bonus: Sales Training – What is it good for? Absolutely everything, say it again!

I am always stunned at the number of vendors who provide ZERO sales training for their staff.  Not only that, they never listen in to sales calls to see if their salespeople are doing it correctly and following the VP of sales approach or some type of script or process.

Now since the e-learning industry’s core is tied to training, you would think that having sales training would be a requirement.

Bottom Line

There are hundreds of books out there on how to resolve customer complaints. Hundreds of videos, even a ton of them on YouTube. Books written on the subject of listening, effective tech support, sales training, sales support and service and great customer service.

You can surf the net and find all these topics and more readily available and free.  Rather than do nothing, do something.

It requires the LMS vendor to fix what is not working.

The problem though is they don’t see it as an issue.

They see it as yours.

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