A Learning Management System can be a valuable tool for not only your internal customers, but also your external customers. Consider with whom your organization does business. Do you have clients or customers who purchase your products or services, such as machines, software, or business processes? Do you have suppliers, vendors, or contractors who need to be aware of how your organization does business? What about partner organizations? Do you share business or process with other organizations? All of these questions can help you determine who your external customers are-and how you can employ your LMS to help them.
First, let’s look at one of the more obvious LMS features when it comes to external customers: training delivery. Suppose you have new process initiatives, new products, or upgrades to existing products, like software. You can use your LMS to link customers directly to your training via notifications. In fact, why not set up curricula or course “cores” for your clients? This could be an excellent sales tool: consider the impact when the sales team can say, “and here’s your customized training plan for our products”. If your courses and data are set up correctly, your customers can manage their training just like you do via your LMS. And remember that you can also schedule training that may not be delivered via the LMS, such as Webinars or classroom training, via your LMS. Some organizations look at their customers as simply another learner group within the organization’s existing family. Why not carry this into the training and development function using an LMS?
If you have a top-notch training and development function, why not consider packaging and selling industry-related training to other organizations? For example, if your customer service program is an evaluated and proven success, you could “generalize” the courses, develop them for LMS delivery, and sell the package to organizations that provide the same level and style customer service as you do. If you have an LCMS, you can develop and deliver packaged courses that are ready to deploy via the client’s LMS. Or, just as your externally licensed vendors create training and deliver it through your LMS, you can do the same thing.
If you use the LMS to deliver training to customers and clients, could you also use it to deliver to prospective clients? A short online piece about your company, its products, and its culture could be something that is delivered to prospects after their first contact. Your marketing department can develop something that goes a little further than the information on the company website-and the LMS can deliver it. This is an added touch that can “train” prospects on what to expect.
If your organization uses contractors, vendors, or suppliers, the LMS can take a role in their training, as well. Perhaps a contractor or vendor needs to take a short course on the terms of their contracts, non-disclosure agreements, or non-compete contracts. Or maybe it could be something as simple as the invoicing and payment process. The idea here is that you can deliver training via the LMS to this population segment and ensure that they are all getting the same information. Your organization’s suppliers can fall into the same field-a short online course can educate key people on your organization and its supply chain processes. The supplier can record completion and also have a quick reference for future use.
Another external area could be partner organizations. For example, airlines “code share” with each other, an arrangement where they share flight routes and passengers. If your organization partners with others in this way, you could use your LMS to deliver training to them, as well. Again, it’s a great way to get everyone on the same playing field.
The good thing about using your LMS for external customers is that you can control how much access and the types of access these audiences have. If you just need to deliver a ten-minute training program to vendors, this is the only access they will have. But if you want to allow customer managers to pull reports to see who has completed training, you can also grant that type of access.
If your organization has audiences that fall into any of these categories, your LMS can have a direct impact on your interaction with them. Next, we will look at scheduling and facilities management via your LMS.
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