Greetings from Sochi.

Not really. I just wanted to say that.

Speaking of saying things how has your tech support been with your LMS vendor?

The reason I ask, is that for some customers their vendor’s service is getting worse.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who is or has experienced this in the past six months it might make sense to squeeze the stuffing out of your stress ball.    I’ll wait.

Latest Gripes from LMS Land

We all know that people love to gripe. It is as we say, what makes the world flow with everlasting happiness and sunshine.   Yet, many folks gripe under their breath. Perhaps some will shout it out on social media channels, trade shows or amongst friends.

Some gripes are legitimate, others are suspect (as in it is their issue and not due to the vendor) – but regardless, it is on the rise.

And that has me concerned.

Why ARE there so many issues?

You would think that after 15 years, the issues would be gone. Sure, a few minor bugs following updates or new roll-outs do happen – a way of life. But when someone who has been in the industry as a LMS provider repeatedly suffers the same flaws over and over again, something is amiss.

Tech Support Grumblings – Why is it getting worse?

I believe there are a variety of items at play here

  • Not enough tech support people – one of the major problems in the space.  One vendor has over 70 tech support people.  That is a lot in this industry. I know vendors who have less than five.  Ask yourself, if the LMS vendor has more than 50 clients and less than five tech support people – how is that going to work out?  My response – Badly.
  • Increase in limited tech support.  Check with your vendor to see what is included in the tech support and service.  Some vendors offer everything including e-mail, phone, chat (on their site), 24/7, etc.  Others go minimal. 

A few even have dedicated support teams (sweet!) for each client.  Sadly, there are a few vendors who charge for that “premium” support you should get anyone.

  • Lack of Q/A on the vendor side.  I wonder sometimes if people at these vendors who constantly have problems, ever go and do Q/A more than one time (sometimes, I wonder if they do Q/A at all). 
  • More vendors – means more issues.   The LMS market is in explode mode. In just the last month, five new vendors have entered the space. While this is great news, it comes with caveats. 

Not all vendors have the appropriate number of resources, as such “issues” that show up cannot be solved in a suitable time frame.  I am not saying every new vendor out there has problems – because that is not the case – but I know of vendors whose “internal team” consists of three.  Three.

  • Lack of high level key people.  I am always stunned at the number of LMS vendors who do not have a VP or whatever title that heads support (some call it customer service/support or has two – tech and customer service). 

The reason I say this, is because tech calls cost the vendor money. So, you want to reduce those calls (inc. e-mails), having someone who oversees the whole thing and whose job is to minimize those tech issues, would be logical you know for a tech product (which a LMS certainly falls into). 

Snowstorm Alert. Get your Increase in Issues here.

  • Mobile devices.  An increase in these items are on the rise.  I can’t decide if it is a result that the vendor did not test all potential scenarios (variables that are common or realistic) OR is it as simple as the vendor just sent it out, figuring that people would notify if there was a problem. You know, “I hear nothing. I know nothing.”
  • High Priority being seen as no priority. Listen if your system has crashed, is not working, people cannot access it, you have been completely shut out or something along those lines – they are legitimate high priority issues.  Yet, there is a big increase with vendors (not all mind you – please remember that), who do not see it that way.

Part of the high priority fail is the failure to respond in a reasonable time frame.  A vendor with top tier tech support, should respond immediately after they get the e-mail or call (assuming it went to voice mail).  And when I am saying immediately from e-mail, I am not saying the “We received your inquiry. We will respond shortly – garbage.” – You might as well, build a paper airplane and toss it around the office for the rest of the day. 

And I fully get that not everyone’s high priority issue is really high priority. Hence the evil “queue”.

Vendors have to assign an issue level, high priority, priority, low priority or whatever terminology they use. Some vendors assign colors.  The end result though, any LMS vendor should know already what constitutes high priority. If the customer has to tell you, you have big time problems.

What Can I Do?

When you suffer the lack of realistic response and realistic high tier issues that are not getting fixed, there are some alternatives you can take.

1.  Call your salesperson.  I always did. Then again, I have no patience. 

Your salesperson should be more than a salesperson. After all, they sold you the system, so if you are having real problems getting something fixed or fell as though your problem isn’t deemed major, then buzz them.  At a minimum, they should contact support and see where the issue is in the “queue” and what is being done. 

2. Talk to the head of tech support/service.  Getting that name is sometimes not an easy task. That is why I recommend Linkedin, assuming you can’t find out their name either through the company or on the company’s web site.  

Even if you can’t find who runs the whole support service, at a minimum you can find out who is in charge of sales – that will work too – because they don’t want to deal with that call – and trust me, it will get to the right place, quickly. 

Best yet, you will get a call back from someone.  Only do this, if you are feeling the angst of your company on why the system is not fixed OR have been playing “no phone call followup” from the vendor.

3. When you sign your contract, get an “opt out clause” added.  Thus if you are running into constant problems and want to bolt, you can without penalty (make sure that is part of the clause).   Otherwise, getting out of that contract with all those issues may not be as easy as you think.

Bottom Line

Support and service, continue to plague the industry. It has been the number one reason in the last few years on why people leave one LMS vendor for another.

The irony of it all, is that it can be fixed.

And you don’t need a “queue” for that.

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