How to Choose an LMS for Customer Education

Ariele Krantzow ·

Apr 05, 2022

The conversation around customer education is getting louder every day. It seems that more and more customer-centric companies say they are currently building out or talking about creating a customer academy. Do you know why? Because a strong customer education program sets you apart from your competitors. It helps companies win and keep winning over their customers year after year.

Customer Academy

It’s also why learning management systems (LMS) are becoming so popular as these companies look to add an unmatched layer of effectiveness and efficiency to their online learning programs.

Here’s the catch: There are a lot of LMSs available. 

They all have amazing features, and while some live up to the hype, how can you be sure you're choosing the right one for your customer education program?

How do you choose? Here are 6 areas for you to understand and know about an LMS vendor before signing on the dotted line.


Bonus Content 🚀

Meeting with an LMS Vendor? Ask Them These 5 Questions

Customer Education Request For Proposal (RFP)

Customer Onboarding Template


1: My Goals

You’re probably familiar with the acronym KYA (know your audience). But how about KYG (know your goals)? If you deeply understand what you’re trying to achieve with customer education and your LMS, you’ll have an easier time recognizing when a platform works for you.

Goals can be anything from improving the customer onboarding experience to increasing the adoption of a certain feature. Many programs focus on decreasing churn, boosting customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and shorter time to value… just to name a few.

2: The Number of Customers I Am Training

If your customer success (CS) team is already as busy as possible, don’t fret. It's a good thing! Customers are using your product and want to succeed. 

Many customer education programs start out of necessity. (By many, I mean most.) 

What this also means is that you have a good understanding of your customers’ needs and desire for knowledge. To choose the right LMS, you need to know how big your learning program will be to start. 

The needs of 100 customers vs. 1,000 customers vs. 10,000 customers make a difference. It’s possible that not every LMS you consider will be able to accommodate the number of customers you need to support. Said another way, you may buy one LMS, use it for a while, but run into challenges in a few years because its infrastructure isn’t advanced enough to keep pace with your growing customer base.

On that note: Even if you’re starting small, your customer base is growing and you will need to incorporate plans to scale. The right LMS will support your current customers as well as prepare you for the future. 

3: Timeline to Launch  

When do you want to launch?

Yesterday? 

You’re not alone. 

Like I said before, many customer education programs are born from necessity, not planned for months or years in advance. As recently as just a few years ago, this was a problem because most LMSs weren’t intuitive enough to get up and running quickly. 

Today, you can do it in just a few weeks. 

With the growth (and acceptance) of virtual learning and the attention put on LMSs. As a result, it’s easier than ever to go from 0 to launch. Once you have the right LMS in your tech stack and with the right content in place, you can publish a course on day one. 

That said, the exact amount of time it’ll take to launch will differ slightly depending on the type of LMS you go with. There are several types of LMSs, from cloud-based to fully custom. Many businesses with enough development resources to custom build their own LMS choose a SaaS LMS for ease and speed to launch. The faster you can get customers learning, the faster you can reach your goals.  

4: The Features I Need

There’s a long list of features to make your academy sing. Each LMS offers different features at different levels. Here are 5 features to consider to get the most engaging content up and running quickly:

  1. LMS + CRM:

    Want to create a straight line through your Sales, CS, Marketing and Learning teams? Integrating your LMS and CRM gives you better customer insights, increases value for customers, allows for faster sales and boosts brand awareness.
  2. Fully Customizable Design:

    A seamless user experience can make all the difference. Take full control of the look and feel of your academy and have it blend perfectly with your website and brand. 
  3. Powerful Integrations:

    It’s not only great content that makes a successful academy. Choose an LMS with pre-existing integrations with the tech you’re already using to ensure valuable insights and smooth learning experiences.
  4. Learning Paths:

    Make it easy for your customers to go from one course to the next. Learning paths allow you to shepherd your learners through your academy so you can be sure they get the knowledge they need.
  5. Detailed Metrics:

    Understand how your customers are interacting with your academy. Analytics and metrics give you the full picture, from learner-level metrics to high-level company goals. The proof is the pudding… or the numbers.

5: Level of Customer Support

Are you going at this alone or do you have internal resources? The level of support offered by your LMS vendor can be critical to your success, especially as you get your academy revved up. 

So, when you’re looking for your next LMS, take a long look at how much support they’ll offer you.

Are they available when you need them? 

Will you have an account manager? 

Is there a general support line? 

Can you talk to a real person vs. chat/email support? 

These are all questions you should ask as you make your decision.

6: My Budget

It’s not surprising that cost is a big determining factor when it comes to choosing the right LMS for your customer academy. 

The type of LMS you choose has something to do with it, but also the pricing model

In my research, there are four pricing models to consider: 

Pay Per Learner: 

This model is a tiered pricing system that changes per the number of customers you enroll in your academy. It’s good if you have a steady number of learners and can be cost-effective since the cost of each learner goes down as the number of learners goes up.

Pay Per Active User:

Much like Pay Per Learning, Pay Per Active User tallies up the cost based on who is actually using the LMS. This is helpful for companies that expect the number of customers using the LMS on a monthly basis to fluctuate. 

Pay As You Go: 

Like the phone plan, Pay As You Go is exactly what it sounds like. It’s based on how much you use your academy and can be measured by different metrics based on the LMS provider. Use this option if your usage will vary each payment cycle.

Licensing Fee: 

This option gives you the cost as a flat fee for using the software owned by the LMS provider. This cost is usually paid yearly and set in a contract to go up or down as the contract progresses. This is a very common tool and is helpful if you’re expecting a lot of growth but can’t nail down those numbers at the time of purchase. 

Final Thoughts: Choosing the Right LMS for Customer Education

Whether you’re looking for your first LMS or upgrading an existing one, the search can be long and challenging — but it doesn’t have to be. 

While many LMS vendors will tout a seemingly endless list of features to try to woo you and convince you to choose them, there are a few fundamental questions that will give you your answer. 

  • What are my goals? 
  • How many customers do I have (now and in the future)? 
  • When do I want to launch? 
  • Which features are available? 
  • How much support do I need? 
  • How much will it cost? 

As long as you ask yourself each of these questions, I’m confident that the next LMS you choose will be perfect for your customer education program. 

Northpass: The Best LMS for Customer Education

Simply put, choose an LMS that allows you to get your educational content to customers efficiently and effectively. There are a lot of options available, so if you need some guidance, Northpass’ learning experts are here to help guide you. 

Book a Demo




About the Author

Ariele Krantzow

Ariele Krantzow is a senior content marketer at Northpass, helping people and businesses harness the power of their learning programs. When she's not staring at a computer, she enjoys traveling, building Ikea furniture, and pretending that chasing a toddler is just as good as going to the gym.

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