In my 8 years of leading project managers to create, maintain and grow client relationships, one thing has remain unchanged – delivering high customer satisfaction through every step in the LMS process at every single touch point. And setting the tone for this is the first experience the customer has with the product (and the vendor team). This makes Client Onboarding a key step in the LMS process.
Handholding to Success
Onboarding isn’t just about sharing everything related to the LMS with the client. It’s about working alongside customers as a part of their team, helping them take the first critical steps to LMS success. Procedures such as conducting needs assessments, providing assistance and offering them a custom experience can be powerful approaches.
Explained below are some specific areas which can help in achieving a smooth client onboarding for your LMS initiative:
1. Customer Due Diligence
It is imperative to perform customer due diligence to understand any client specific information which can impact the implementation. A good way of conducting stakeholder analysis is to interview client representatives at different levels to understand their influence, interest, impact and level of involvement in the project.
We recently had an opportunity to work with a large fitness brand which had representatives from a non-technical background. Taking this into consideration, we created a new set of documents with minimum technical details.
2. Owner and User
A very important aspect of the onboarding process is to identify the stakeholders and various touch points at an early stage. This will later be transformed into a responsibility matrix. As a LMS vendor, one should understand who is responsible for approval of the system, who is the owner of the LMS, and who is/are going to use the system, i.e. the end user. Perspective towards the system changes based on the role of the individuals and hence it is important to balance everyone’s perspective right at the beginning.
3. Kick-off and Team Introduction
A kick-off meeting will be helpful to understand which teams are involved and how the client envisions the project. Each stakeholder can have varying requirement and expectations from the LMS. For instance, the client’s IT team will be more interested to know the data security and hosting related aspects, whereas the team responsible for managing the admin tasks on a day-to-day basis will be keen to understand various features, functionalities and usability factors in the LMS.
A proven method to work is getting everyone together (face-to-face or via telephone/ Skype etc.) for an introduction with the client team. This gives an opportunity to both the teams to know each other and arrive at a common ground of understanding. This will also help to baseline the success criteria of the LMS initiative and can be used to measure the success of the implementation at the end of the project.
4. Process Outline and Amendments to Process as per Need
While serving a wide range of diverse clients, ranging from an enterprise to a startup, the processes could vary from one customer to the other. A special focus is required to take care of such differences and amend the approach to align it with the customer’s needs.
For instance, an enterprise will require its IT team to get involved, while an SMB would not have a dedicated IT team for the LMS. In such cases, one can identify if the client is expecting technical communication or a communication in layman’s language.
5. LMS Exploration
We have often had our clients ask us ‘This is a great feature in your LMS but how can I leverage it for my business?’ The right way to address questions like these is to encourage clients to explore the LMS on sandbox environment, which can help them understand what (more) value can be gained from the LMS. The vendor shouldn’t focus on sufficing the business need alone but should go beyond and look at the extras that could add value.
Another aspect is to brainstorm with the client on how a particular module can be leveraged. Here’s an example. I worked with a client that was keen to explore the Virtual Classroom module in UpsideLMS was unaware how it could add value to its training delivery. To help them understand the module, we provided them with a sandbox environment, which they could use to try out mock virtual sessions. I also got on a couple of calls with the team to help them understand the various options using which a virtual classroom tool could be effectively used for delivering a specific set of training. Today, the client has Virtual Classroom sessions as a part of its training and couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Just one success story out of many we have had with UpsideLMS.
6. Advice as per Client Type
Clients could be categorized into two buckets – ones that are trying out an LMS for the first time and ones that have used an LMS in the past and now switching to yours. The former look up to the LMS vendor for advice, while the latter look for a vendor that is an expert. The size of the client’s business (whether it’s an SMB without a dedicated L&D and IT team or an Enterprise with both L&D and IT teams) also impacts the client’s attitude towards the LMS and expectations from the LMS vendor. An LMS vendor should be able to cater to both these types of customers and provide support according to their needs, with a ready helping hand for clients needing special assistance.