How Can An LMS Be a Challenger Brand?
With over 600 LMSs globally, how can any of them stand out? Have they not all got similar levels of features and benefits and enjoy similar level of functionality? Mark Jones, Unicorn director, investigates.
Challenger brands are commonly talked about in many different business sectors. Virgin Atlantic and Red Bull are great examples, while in UK banking, Tesco Bank, Handelsbanken, MetroBank to name a few are ‘challenger banks’ to the banking sector, attracting customers away from the likes of LBG, HSBC and Barclays. But how can an LMS be a challenger brand?
Great marketing is of course an important ingredient. We love our new Unicornucopia app on iOS and Android. This is where you can find our interactive SkillsServe LMS brochure and factsheets on features such as eCreator, ExamServe and Performance Management/T&C.
Of course not everyone can download an app, so the regular links to our factsheets can also come in handy:
But of course glossy marketing doesn’t actually demonstrate how we are any different, and is unlikely alone to differentiate you from the established names with their own larger marketing budgets.
It is far more important for a challenger to be able to demonstrate a real added value to the customer, and then be able to sustain that differentiation. This is much easier for a challenger if you focus on a particular market sector or vertical. In Unicorn’s case, that is financial services – banking and insurance.
The latest eLearning 24/7 – State of the LMS Industry Global Report reviewed over 600 platforms and ranks the top 50 according to capabilities, features, design, user interface, support and service, and future thinking. We were delighted to be ranked no.1 LMS for financial services worldwide and no.8 for the wider market beyond financial services.
Here is how our global ranking compared to the established market leaders.
The challengers are on the march
Note how the other ‘challenger’ on this list – Kallidus – has also improved its ranking substantially, while Growth Engineering’s unique gamification platform ranked second overall. Some would say it’s the David and Goliath scenario! In reality, the majority of corporate LMSs have similar levels of features and benefits and enjoy similar level of functionality in 90% of what they do, so differentiating yourselves can be difficult, but here are some suggestions based on feedback from our customers…
Focus on service not just software
Offering a personal service, using a consultative approach to understand requirements, and a flexible, agile approach to implementation and delivery.
The personal touch
The ‘bespoke service’ approach continues beyond implementation, with a Help Desk in its true sense, not just a technical support number/website. Flexibility, responsiveness and deep understanding of the client’s requirements can help you build strong barriers to entry and mutually beneficial long term relationships.
User experience (UX)
Our in-house Creative Design, UX and developers work closely together (the teams sit together) to ensure the user is at the forefront of any SkillsServe feature, both from a usability perspective and making it visually appealing, mirroring the customer’s brand guidelines and culture.
An obvious one. We have no hidden charges. Our SaaS pricing model includes; hosting, support, maintenance, unlimited administrator accesses, unlimited content authors for the built in authoring tools, and all features of the LMS. We don’t charge per feature, per course upload, or by file size amounts, or extra for admin users and customer support. You may have a different pricing model but, just as with UX, the golden rule is KISS.
Listen to your customers and prioritise your development programme accordingly.
Many firms tell us they have invested in an LMS previously and are often still on the version they first implemented. In some cases this is a version which is no longer supported by the provider. This quite often means lack of functionality, poor user experience, and in the worst case a break in service. To add to the pain, many of the firms charge to upgrade to the latest version, or in some cases the upgrade means they lose their customisation, or have to pay to have it re-developed.
We recommend that you give all customers access to the latest version at no additional cost.
A final word
So yes, today’s LMS market has plenty of room for ‘challenger brands’ but personally I feel too many of those 600+ offer just more of the same. While you may not be able to match the marketing or development budgets of the ‘big boys’ you can be more nimble, more customer focused, and more creative. So, come on, let’s have more genuine challengers.