Hey Tim Horton’s, stick to making coffee

I recently came across the latest version of the Tim Horton’s mobile application called, for some inexplicable reason, TimmyMe (I get it – Timmy Me, really?), and wonder why they spent money developing it in the first place.

TimmyMe’s primary reason for existence is to provide the closest store to my physical location – which is fine if I’m visiting a new city (even though they are pretty much on every street corner in Canada) – using GPS. The other features are pretty-much non-existent but do include a notepad to write down the orders of your friends and/or colleagues. I’m guessing that was for the one person that doesn’t know where the closest store is so they send him on his way with an app that has all the information he may need should he get lost or forget how many “double double’s” he needs to get.

Version 2
The horrible part of this story is that this is actually the second version of the product and by all accounts, the first version was way better. It had a single layer of value beyond the location services: It allowed people who carry Tim Cards (pre-paid coffee cards) to see the balance they had left. Just this single feature alone would have saved version 2 however they removed it – and caused an outrage in comments on iTunes.

What should Tim Horton’s have done?
Value. Mobile applications today are beyond the single trick and need to offer true value for the consumer. Simply offering the locations of the stores is a meager, almost lazy first step when they could have done so much more.

1. Coupons
This is SO simple today and they could have done it easily. Reward the people who download the application with a free coffee, free mug, free donut, free something! You’ve got a loyal following, why not make them feel good about it.

2. Tim Cards and replenishing Tim Cards
This is a NO BRAINER. Removing this from version 1 means you aren’t serious about generating loyalty and a little revenue to boot. The loyalty people put into the Tim Horton’s brand is also the most effective way for people to open the app EVERY DAY! Putting the balance in the app makes people open it, which gives you the ability to push information to them that they may be interested in. Without it, there is no reason to open it.

3. Change the name!
Your brand is your brand but Tim Horton’s is a known brand, TimmyMe is not. Don’t confuse people, just call it Tim Horton’s and don’t get cute.

4. Get all QR’d up.
QR Codes are amazingly simple and something that can add tremendous value to help bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. Post some on the door to bookmark its location. Put some in the store to allow me to download a nutrition guide as a pdf. Use them in all your advertising as discounts or coupons and measure your redemption rates.

5. SMS me
Allow me to track my Tim Card balance via SMS. Create a loyalty program that sends mobile coupons or specials directly to my phone. Create a customer feedback loop via SMS to allow me to compliment a clean washroom or helpful staff member or just to make suggestions or compliment your products.

6. To quote Gary Vaynerchuk, “Give a crap”
The effort here is obvious and we expect more from you. Build from the perspective of your customer, not from what you think they want – these are two different things. Ask and you will be rewarded, tell and you’ll get TimmyMe.

The great thing about mobile is the ability to extend brand loyalty beyond the physical store but it can harm just as easily as help companies that don’t take the time ask how they can enhance an experience.

**** Full disclosure: While I am not a share holder in Tim Horton’s, I do drink a cup nearly every day and their app won’t change this habit ****

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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