LMS

LMS Tech Support – It is getting worse

Support and Service among LMS providers has always been the number one reason on why people switch systems. But something is happening. LMS Tech support overall, is getting worse and it isn't just a couple of vendors, it is quite a few.

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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Did you know that the E-Learning “State of the LMS Industry Report” includes information of 44 LMS vendors, such as their support, how they define their pricing, implementation times, setup fees (what you get for that price) and much more.  Order today at Buy Report.

 

 

 

 

 

5 comments

  1. As an LMS vendor I would state there is another side to this argument. I agree that many vendors do not do enough QA and they are so intent on selling soething support falls by the way side.

    The other side is that many clients install the wrong information then blames the vendor when things go wrong. In top of this clients believe that by investing in an lms they never have to pay for any type of service. I can honestly say I try to do give each and other client options, explanations and the ins and outs of service agreements.

    When a lms is built in a certain manner it can be changed but to change the system but it is not always free. When you build a house changing paint is easy. But when we tearn down walls it is a major undertaking.

    Folks, developers cannot work for free. When anyone complains that they get the right support they need to be honest and let those they are complaining about support that they were unwilling to pay for the support they need. If a company has 100,000 users the company needs to plan for it.

    I am more than willing to honestly address support any clients issues with our lms but if you want to change the operational features from what you purchased we have to charge a fair fee.

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  2. Good blog, Craig. Too many vendors regard customer support as an irritating cost to be minimised and in some cases outsourced. In fact it is an investment that can bring great returns, both in client retention and in word of mouth reputation.
    Of course, the ideal situation would be that customers don’t require any support, but in a fast changing multi-platform, multi-browser world, that is a tad utopian. But LMS companies that focus on adding new features rather than on making sure the ones they have got work, are asking for trouble. Investing in product hardening and thorough regression testing is at least as important as the next wow feature.
    So, treat customer support as a strategic asset. I see weekly MI on numbers of outstanding support issues by client, by type and by priority, and can drill down. I rarely need to. My advice – keep support in house, recruit good people, train them well, reward them properly, and encourage client feedback. The result will be happier, more loyal customers, even the “awkward” ones (especially the awkward ones), better retention rates and a more enjoyable place to work.

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  3. I love this post, Craig, although I see that support issues for LMS’ are on the rise, and that is totally unfortunate. It is also unnecessary. We work with a client who had an LMS vendor who refused to fix a bug because “not enough customers had complained.” That client still works with us, but no longer has that LMS. The LMS vendor in this climate who is unresponsive to their customers behaves against their own best interests, not to mention the best interests of their customers.

    Sherry Michaels
    Michaels & Associates

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  4. Hi Craig,
    Thanks for the post. As a Vice President of Customer service I appreciate hearing about the state of the industry related to LMS customer service. It’s nice to see validation that customer satisfaction isn’t totally related to the technology. One question I had was related to your baseline of 50 clients need more than 5 tech support people. Have you found an industry standard ratio? I would guess the amount of interaction provided by the tech support person would have to be a part of determining how many support people it takes to keep the customers satisfied. The difficulty of the system would also come into play. One word of advice to customers looking for top-notch support; before you decide to buy, call the support line looking for help. See who picks up (if anyone) and how they sound. Be honest and tell them you are a secret shopper and see if they are enthusiastic about your call, or do they give you a scripted response.

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  5. I’ve just dug out a few recent quotes from clients about our Helpdesk. I think they make the case for high quality customer service better than anything I could write.

    “Can I just say your support team have been great, always really professional, patient when guiding you through what needs to be done, quick and always get to a solution, they are a great bunch so if there is a way to recognise them please do and pass on my thanks.”

    “The Helpdesk are “ever patient’, knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with”. I would very much welcome the opportunity of cementing my gratitude by meeting the Unicorn team and thanking them personally; would this be possible?”

    ‘We always find Unicorn absolutely excellent. Really, really responsive and so nice whenever we phone up with a query.”

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