ARTICLE: Mastering the Art of Customer Journeys

“Creating a great customer journey is a bit like making a cake. You have to bring the right ingredients together; it’s about the people, the process and the system all working together. I love the challenge of that.”

From a job in social work to a business degree and management consultancy, Gary Timlin’s path has been an interesting one. We caught up with him to find out what he loves about customer journeys and why he believes everyone has something to offer. 

1. Gary, what led you to a career in management consulting? How did you get here?

Whilst this remains the ultimate goal it is often not possible.

Actually, I started out as a social worker, and I did that until I was 30 but then I decided I needed a change. I went back to university and did a degree in business and statistics. 

As part of that degree, I had the opportunity to work for Argos and when it came to doing my dissertation, I asked the Director if I could work on the root cause of parcel delivery failure. He liked the idea because it was a real pain point for them at the time. I stayed with Argos while I did my Masters too and over the following few years I took on all kinds of roles there.

Following my time at Argos, I went to work for Eon as a contractor. I met so many great people there, and lots of them I’m still in touch with and work with through Cross 8 now. Around 70% of our team have worked in the utilities sector over the years. In fact, several of us worked together on the smart metering rollout.

2. You’re Cross 8’s specialist in design, architecture and customer journeys. What do you find so interesting about these areas?

I first got into customer journeys when I worked at npower. They were implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system so I began to really understand the importance of knowing customer expectations and how you’re going to deliver against them. 

Whether you go into Aldi or you go into Waitrose, you arrive there as a customer with a certain set of expectations. They’re set by the marketing, the offer, the price, the promotion and as you begin to engage as a customer you start to go through different journeys. These are moments of truth, the points where you’re interacting and you’re either going to come away satisfied or dissatisfied, based on your expectations. 

It’s crucial to understand moments of truth like these and make them as good as possible. You find out so much about people’s expectations at each stage of the journey by analysing customer data and feedback. Once you know that, you tailor those moments. 

It’s fascinating. It adds real value to organisations and their customers and it’s so satisfying when you get it right

3. What’s your favourite example of where design and business architecture helped to solve a business problem or transform an organisation ?

I could name a few but one stand-out example is the challenges of the pandemic and some of the ways we helped to genuinely add value at that time. Those were important. 

We delivered real-time interactive insights on the impact of COVID-19 so that our client could understand the health impact on customers and front-line team members led to operational changes to limit exposure to the virus.  

I think the reason Cross 8 was able to help so much at that point was because of the team we have. We’ve worked together for so many years, in so many different scenarios. We understand each other’s personalities and we know that everyone genuinely cares about the outcome. That’s a real strength of our team. 

4. What’s the biggest lesson you’d say you’ve learned? How does it guide what you do today?

Growing up with ADHD and dyslexia made school quite the adventure, and often landed me in detention. That didn’t stop me from getting a degree in business and a Master’s in computing though. 

I began to see how short my attention span was so I focused much more on trying to listen than talking. It’s still something I set out to conquer every day.  

Over the years I learnt to use my neurodiversity to my advantage. It’s become my superpower.

Something else I’ve learnt is to focus my attention on making sure clients have the right answer, not just the shiny one. A bit of self-reflection goes such a long way.

5. You mentioned that having ADHD and dyslexia is your “superpower”. What do you think organisations could do better to support neurodiversity in the workplace?

I think culture plays a huge role here. It’s important that workplaces create an environment that supports neurodiversity. Different people add value in different ways. Rather than judging someone because their grammar is atrocious, focus on how to use their strengths to create high-functioning teams. There are so many character types and we need them all. 

At Cross 8, my main role is to start things, to shape the vision and the beginning of a project. Then I transition the day to day management to our programme delivery team who have the eye for detail to make sure we execute and believe me, it works amazingly well. 

So we have to recognise all these ways that we’re different and put someone in the right situation, in the right team. That’s how you get great results. 

Connect with Gary on LinkedIn or get in touch with Cross 8 here