I’ve been around the block. I’ve seen great, good, average, bad and downright awful, when it comes to LMSs and their subsets. I’ve heard vendors rave how awesome they are, how much their clients love them, how they understand what the market needs and wants, how their support is number one and so on and so on.
It is a record, with the only item missing a turntable. Back in my radio days as part of skit I used to do, was to break records on the air, of songs I could not stand. You haven’t lived until you see pieces of a record going everywhere, especially when it is a favorite of someone at the station, you despise.
Ahh memories. Anyway, there are too many records out there, that only have a few great songs. With the rest being average and even awful.
So it is time, to take out my turntable. Grab a set of records and rather than smash them everywhere, tell you, the LMS vendor, what I’d want to see in your system, that will take you to number one (on the charts).
This isn’t your grandpa’s gramophone
In the last several months, the following have been on the upswing, and they are simple to solve. Sadly to many vendors this is not feasible. Perhaps it is because they do not care. Perhaps it is because their head of sales or the CEO has no idea. No worry, I’m here to tell you.
- Responding – E-mail, phone, Cans attached to one another, Carrier Pigeon, whatever it takes.
Benefit: Tells people you really are interested. I know, strange concept huh? It is really simple to do. With e-mail it takes maybe a minute, then you click send. Track record of recent information I get with folks is that this has become a major issue in the LMS/LP space. I have to assume that the vendors who do not do it, are making 250M gross sales a year.
Smash: Big minus to zero response? It is a huge red flag. Think of it this way, if you are having problems now communicating with them, what is it going to be like, when you become a client of theirs?
I have a simple rule. Ignore and I’ll ignore back and remove you from consideration for any customer.
- Schedule more than one training session for administrator(s)
Benefit: People are busy. As a vendor you constantly push “reinforcement” for your daily task list and yet, you have one webinar (typically) and some videos (if you are lucky) and materials and then that is it. Oh, you want more? Sure, but it costs.
Make it free. Think of it this way. Folks calling technical/customer support costs you (vendor) money. How do you reduce that? Training the administrator(s). What does it really cost you in terms of providing free training (when needed) and more than once to an administrator? Good will? Loving customer? Stays with you? All the above, when you offer more than one and are willing to offer free training on whatever, when the admin needs it.
Smash: Greed. It tells me you are greedy. And lazy. One webinar for what 90 minutes at best and then you charge? Wow, what a deal. I’m first to be your customer! BTW, if the training or L&D exec wants training too, give it to them for free. Why, rattle the wasp nest?
- Send SWAG to your customers each year. You have the promo stuff, you bought it. Now send it. Tells me you care. And value your customer
- Snail mail written by your CEO – It is a dying art, but I have never heard negative things when someone receives a thank you note written by hand from the head of the company. If anything it reinforces the value of your company to the customer
- Give back to the community. Society responsiveness is always a big win. I know of one vendor, who donates money to various causes, each time a deal is done. The salesperson selects or identifies where the money goes to, and the vendor picks up the $$$ (not taking it from the salesperson) and sends forthwith.
One huge smash you should be aware of
Call it a bonus point, but what I learned from one vendor should make you cringe. I had a discussion with Linkedin Learning and found out that they provide only ONE demonstration per customer. I have never heard this approach from any other vendor – in my 19 years in the e-learning industry.
Upon hearing it, I thought this is where the person who came up with New Coke ended up. I surmise that if the prospect is BIGMONSTER SIZE company, they will get more than one presentation.
Functionality by We R Humans (Record of the Year)
Here is my hit list to become a top tier record for 2017-18. Let’s hit it Lawrence (Welk, from the grave).
- Aesthetically pleasing.
UI should be consistent throughout the system. When did grey text become the thing? I’ve seen front ends that look sharp, back ends that need a sharpie whose color only comes in grey or black. Some systems have color buttons, icons and what not, only to have depressing dull colors elsewhere. Others have color in some areas, and grey or light silver icons elsewhere. Speaking of icons, make it clear what they represent. One vendor had what looked like a wrench. I kid you not. Another one had a disc, like a floppy disc to represent online. What’s next, a Compaq CPU from 98?
- Video management
Video streaming (customer does NOT pay), video editor (they have apps on iOS and Android for freak’s sake), automatically recognize bandwidth speed for appropriate FPS (frames per second) on a mobile device, webcam recording of learners (employees, customers, students) posted in the system, whereas the coach/tutor/manager can respond – but they record themselves as well – with the “right” way of whatever they are coaching them on, and the learner sees that. That is being pro-active. Responding by text, is reactive. And tells me nothing, except feedback, which without actually seeing it, allows me to imagine what it could be. Trust me, that never works out well.
Video assessments. I can record a video, upload it, and then be able to add an overlay onto the video with whatever I am doing an assessment on. The administrator does this, not the learner.
Video bookmarking, whereas the learner can go right to that bookmark and view, rather than do a linear watch.
Learner can upload their video (without having to go thru the administrator) and share that video and/or other pieces of content with other learners. It’s called P2P learning and it will work, when done correctly.
- On/Off synch mobile app
I have been a record on saying this. But assuming that I’m always going to be able to connect to the Internet is a bad assumption. As noted before, you can’t say mobile first, and not have an on/off synch app. That is like me saying I am a gourmet chef, but have never made anything beyond hotdog and beans.
- Social Expansion features via API, but in your system
Instagram. Snapchat. WhatsApp. People – the learners – the millennials are using these apps. So why are they not available in your system? Better yet, why not have an instragram like capability as part of your social? It fits nicely with content curation, P2P learning, video recording/sharing and engagement.
Create an app store already. Put in lots of apps, allow your clients to select which ones they want in their system and put them in Or enable the ability to automatically add them. While you are at it, show the apps as icons, not as words. People remember icons more so than text. There is a reason, that when you see a red stop sign in another country, you know it means stop, even if you cannot read the text, due to the language it was written in.
- Data visualization
Another repeating record on this item. Best when you tie it to an LRS, but you can achieve it without doing so. When I see a graph on your analytical dashboard with data points, I want the ability to do drill down right there, not on another page or view another graph on the same page.
Make it visually stunning. Heat maps and Spider webs only work well, if the information is connected in an way that makes sense.
- Bookmarklet in the browser
Most folks today have at least one browser extension next to their browser bar. Saba ties their one to their LRS and can capture the page. That’s nice, but I want to be able to grab specific sections on that page, even graphics, and then they are pushed back into my (learner) social page, repository for P2P learning or just some level of content curation.
Add the ability to leave notes on the captured page(s), in the course area (within the LMS), somewhere in the system. Want to take it to super drive? Others can view the notes. The learner decides what they want public and what they do not want public. Then the public ones are what other learners can see.
- Spell checker in your system for the administrator, instructor or anyone who writes objectives and other information for a course/content/event, etc.. It should be a must with any system that has a built-in authoring tool.
Fun fact: It is rare to find.
have provided just a small list of the items, want to see in your LMS.
In the end of it all, you need to make a decision.
Do you want to be a broken ?
Or a of success?