The Learning Management System (LMS) was originally designed for internal use cases with a focus on addressing the compliance needs of Human Resources departments. Failure to host such training often exposed the organization to unacceptable risks for legal, financial, and security breaches.

While this may be the origin of the corporate LMS, in recent years, companies have shifted their educational focus to external audiences such as customers, partners, affiliates, and franchises. Training focusing on these external audiences is designed to drive product adoption, improve customer health, and reduce support costs.

Despite this shift in focus, many LMS’s have not evolved to meet the needs of these external audiences.

It can be a frustrating experience to try to educate external audiences using LMSs that were designed for internal audiences. The primary challenge is that external audiences tend to be voluntary learners. This is in sharp contrast to internal audiences, who can be compelled to learn using levers that are not available with external audiences. Read on for five signs that your current LMS is letting you down with external audiences:

1. Your LMS has an unfriendly user experience

Since learners typically engage with content voluntarily, an unfriendly user experience presents an immediate barrier to product adoption and engagement. When assessing your current LMS functionality, there are a few specific features that warrant a closer look:

Learning Pathways: How many clicks does it take a user to get to their desired piece of content? The higher the number of clicks required, the more likely it is that users will abandon their training efforts before they even start.

Customization: Can students customize their coursework and learning path? Or are they struggling to craft a learning journey that relates uniquely to their needs? This lack of customization often translates to students disengaging with your training content.

Searchability: Are users able to search for the desired resource?  Students should be able to easily find what they need when they need it. Students expect the same search experience for educational resources as they experience on search sites such as Google and Bing.

Content Flexibility: Is your platform capable of hosting multiple learning formats – whether it be infographics, slideshows, webinars, etc.? Not all users learn in the same way so the platform should be capable of disseminating information through a variety of mediums.

When it comes to customer training, even the slightest bit of friction can dissuade learners from engaging with your content. As such, ensuring your LMS is set up to provide a positive UX is critical.

2. Your LMS cannot effectively monitor student engagement and performance

Analytics capabilities in your LMS should help you measure student engagement and connect it to product adoption, customer health, retention, and renewals. Robust analytics can also elucidate the strengths and weaknesses of your training content and drive business insights. If your LMS isn’t collecting student data or isn’t offering a user-friendly means of accessing and analyzing that data, it is stifling the growth of your program.

In particular, analyzing how students interact with your content (i.e. how long and how often courses are accessed, the length of time videos are watched, and performance on assessments) enable you to identify trends and create more effective lessons. These metrics can also help you assess if your program is reaching the right people and if the content is engaging. You can then accordingly adapt your marketing tactics and the creation of new resources and courses.

Without these data-driven insights, running and optimizing your program is largely guesswork; an inefficient, and likely ineffective means of keeping your training program afloat.

3. Your LMS does not integrate with your CRM and other business systems

Customer education teams do not exist in a vacuum – they often also report into sales, customer success, finance, and other departments. Therefore, an effective Customer Education platform is one that integrates with your other systems of record, spanning teams and departments. Key integrations include:

  • Customer Relationship Management platforms such as Salesforce and HubSpot
  • Marketing Automation Software such as HubSpot, Marketo, Intercom, Salesforce Pardot, Eloqua
  • Customer Service & Support software such as Zendesk, Gainsight, and Salesforce Service Cloud

Ensuring that your various business tools integrate with each other also ensures you have a holistic view of the customer journey. This further enables the ability to gauge engagement and the ROI of your investments during various milestones along the customer journey. If your systems of record do not communicate with your LMS, you are missing out on valuable insights about how your Customer Education program is benefiting other aspects of your business.

4. Your LMS is struggling to keep up with your company’s growth

As your business grows and evolves, your LMS needs to be able to support this growth without sacrificing functionality or reliability. If you’re unsure whether your current LMS is setting you up for future success, consider the following questions:

User volume: how many users can the platform support concurrently? Can the platform maintain that level of support if your user population doubles? Triples?

Content: Does the platform have the capacity to support multiple learning paths? Can content be easily added and/or refreshed? Is there a maximum amount of content that the platform can host?

Security: If your user base expands significantly, can the platform support single-sign-on (SSO) or other safeguards?

Whether you need a platform that caters to a large volume of users, requires multiple training audiences, or has a particularly complicated user case, you need an LMS that can keep up, and without breaking.

5. Your LMS has limited e-commerce functionality

Regardless of how you charge for training (a la carte, subscription, bundled, etc.) or if you have plans to charge for training in the future, e-commerce functionality is a must-have.

Is your LMS able to support credit, debit, and Paypal payments? Can you accept payments in both U.S. and international currencies? Can you easily generate and apply discount and/or free access codes? Can you embed these codes into weblinks and specify these codes by amount, max number of uses, and/or active date windows?

Your LMS should provide flexible pricing and packaging, as well as promo codes that accommodate a variety of pricing structures. While the decision to charge (or not) for training can be complicated, the infrastructure that supports your decision should not be.

Is it time to upgrade?

An LMS custom-built for external audiences is no longer optional in today’s world where customer engagement and retention are the key drivers of customer health and retention. Using an LMS that with the capabilities detailed above will not only position your customer education program for future growth, it will also ensure that your customers feel supported throughout their product journey.

To learn more about why Skilljar is the best LMS for your company’s needs and how we can help you meet, and exceed, your business goals, schedule a demo today!

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