People rely on internet reviews to buy everything. I do it too – for items as unimportant as dish soap, I find myself looking up the product on Amazon and viewing the world’s complaints, concerns, and favorite things about that brand. That’s why it’s natural to look out for internet reviews when searching for an LMS. For something that’s actually important, why wouldn’t you?
There’s an impression that internet reviews are unfiltered and honest, and therefore more useful than the materials and information that companies give us to help us make decisions. It’s natural to be drawn to that in a marketing-driven world. While internet reviews can help supplement our decision making, when making complex buying decisions such as expensive software, it can lead us astray.
They are a Small Sample
The corporate training industry is a relatively niche field and as a result, the reviews available are extremely limited in scope. It’s not like buying dish soap on Amazon, where there will be literally hundreds of reviews on each product. Most LMS providers will have a few or just a couple dozen reviews, if they have reviews at all. Leaving internet reviews is not a standard way businesses interact with their software. The sample size is too small to make real conclusions.
Internet Reviews Have Little Context
Even though elearning software review websites make a good effort to show what type of company is reviewing the software, most reviews are relatively brief and incapable of going into detail about the business needs of the client and the ways their LMS provider was or was not able to meet them.
The reviewers only have the context of their own experience of the LMS, which might not strongly relate to your own business needs. It’s better to look to e-learning thought leaders like Craig Weiss and John Leh who have decades of experience working in e-learning with a variety of companies. They understand the needs of various industries and business models and can talk about LMS providers with that scope and specific knowledge in mind.
Businesses all have unique LMS needs. The best LMS providers will work with you to understand your business and help you make a decision based on what works best for your company. They can provide you with fully fleshed out case studies from companies similar to yours. Spending your time reading internet reviews won’t match even ten minutes of contacting a potential vendor and discussing with them what you are looking for. A vendor can give you proper context for how your business needs fit with the capabilities of LMS software on the market. And most, later in the evaluation process, are more than willing to provide you with multiple references to whom you can ask any and all questions about the particular provider’s system.
You Could be Missing Out on Niche Providers
The most widely-reviewed LMS vendors might not be the ones that suit your needs the best. Some LMS vendors are like a big pair of shoes – sure, everyone can put their feet in them and walk around, but wouldn’t you rather have some shoes just your size?
Smaller, more obscure LMS providers can sometimes provide features more specific to your needs and even provide greater support because they’re less distracted by hundreds or thousands of clients. You might miss out on these gems if you’re relying on client reviews online because they don’t have quite as many as the larger providers with bigger pools of clients.
If you really want to get past the marketing and find what’s right for you, look beyond the most prominently reviewed LMSs and find information with substance.
Reading Reviews is not LMS Research
Internet reviews are not without valuable insight, but you owe it to yourself and your company to reach deeper when trying to understand which LMS providers are able to meet your business needs.
Researching what industry thought leaders have to say and reaching out to company representatives are far more likely to get you useful answers, tailored to your needs. Even reading a detailed case study will provide more context and help you understand how an LMS might fit into a company plan. Discover what an LMS can do for you by giving providers the chance to understand your business model and discuss real solutions.