Christmas comes early: Lessons Unlearned has arrived!

Yesterday I had an opportunity to do something few people ever have the opportunity to do, and you only get to do it once in your life: I opened a big cardboard box to lay my hands on the hard cover edition of my first book, Lessons Unlearned. After 18 months of writing, editing, rewriting, reviewing and editing, and rewriting some more, then the endless tedious reviews and tweaks for layout, to finally hold the actual book in my hands was incredibly rewarding. I was down in our corporate HQ in San Diego for internal meetings, and there were boxes of books everywhere in preparation for the official book launch at Technology Services World on May 7th. I signed a few hundred books to be sent to press, industry gurus and partners, and while my penmanship may leave a lot to be desired, I loved it.

John Ragsdale and Cindy McComb, TSIA's Sr. Director of Marketing, open the first box of Lessons Ulearned.

Lessons Unlearned follows my career from my early days at JCPenney, through my years working for Silicon Valley CRM and KM vendors, to the last decade-plus as a technology analyst. The book documents the lessons I learned along the way, and hopefully these lessons will save some of you from having to make all the mistakes I made trying to figure everything out! My intent was to make the book broad enough to appeal to an audience larger than just customer support techs and managers.

  • For consumers, i.e., the general public, understanding how customer service operates and the metrics service operations use to determine success can help you understand how to resolve issues in your favor. I have a section on what customers should do when they encounter poor service, and clearly that’s advice every one of us can use.
  • For customer support, I’m hoping the first 3 chapters of the book can serve as a new employee manual, and/or a guide for new support supervisors or managers. These chapters outline all the key metrics used in support, and how to balance cost, quality and operational metrics. I also have chapters on stewardship towards customers, and common employee types and how to manage and motivate each type (something I seriously wish I had understood in my early days of management).
  • For technology buyers, I have chapters on how to select technology–without using an RFP–and the importance of process over technology when it comes to project success. I include 2 examples of companies (names removed to protect the guilty, of course) I’ve done projects with whose processes were so broken you will shake your head in disbelief.
  • For technology vendors, I do a deep dive on working with industry analysts, including how to get the briefing, how to structure the briefing, and an inside look at how analysts operate. I include a very frank discussion about the reality of “pay for play” in the analyst world, and I even have some fun lists of pet peeves from analysts about vendors, and pet peeves from vendors about analysts.
  • For knowledge workers, I have a chapter on the importance of knowledge management (including a TSIA member case study), and discuss the reasons why knowledge management projects fail, and how to prevent becoming a failure statistic.

In addition to this, you will find lots of personal stories and behind-the-scenes gossip from Silicon Valley. While I hope to educate consumers about customer support, and help service organizations increase service levels, I also want to entertain the readers of Lessons Unlearned, so hopefully there are plenty of things to give you a chuckle along the way.

I hope to see all of you at the Santa Clara Convention Center May 7-9 for TSW. All attendees will receive a copy of the book–they will be available at all the partner booths in the Expo. I’ll be on the Solutions Stage during Expo hours Monday and Tuesday evening to answer questions and sign your copies of Lessons Unlearned. Hope to see you there!

Explore posts in the same categories: customer support, Enterprise Support, knowledge management, self-service, Technology

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4 Comments on “Christmas comes early: Lessons Unlearned has arrived!”


  1. I can’t wait to read it! And congratulations…that is a wonderful moment.

  2. Lisa Painter Says:

    I agree DBKay…looking forward to reading it too! Congrats John.

  3. Mike Cichon Says:

    What a great accomplishment!!

    I mean it as a complement when I say you’ve probably forgotten more than most people know about service and KM.

    Congrats John! Looking forward to the read.

  4. Tim Mushey Says:

    Congrats! That must have been a wonderful feeling! All the best in the future with the book and beyond..


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