In focus: Tim Hortons

2 years ago by

In an exclusive interview with, Hesham Almekkawi, CEO of Tim Hortons in Middle East highlights the importance of listening to customers and studying the trends as keys to success for any business. He emphasizes on the need to focus on small gestures and details for ensuring customer happiness. He also speaks about the comprehensive training programs in place at Tim Hortons which are based on the customer journey and teach essential soft skills.

In focus: Tim Hortons

Q: Tim Hortons has been celebrating passion and expertise for coffee for over 50 years now.  What are some essential factors which make you different from your competitors?

Hesham: Our 100% Arabica ethically sourced coffee and zero compromise principle on our coffee quality, along with our variety offerings and skilled team, set us apart from others. We provide experiential moments for our guests. It’s what we call the “Tims” effect.

Q: In your opinion, what has been the primary force behind the success of Tim Hortons?

Hesham: I would say this in definite words Quality, Variety and over 50 years of coffee knowhow. These three factors add up to the primary force behind the success of Tim Hortons. Our consistency and dedication makes us who we are today in the journey to achieve our vision to become “The Café of Choice”.

Q: What shift have you seen in the coffee trend among your customers over the years?

Hesham: We have started to see a shift in the trend towards the specialty of coffee especially with the younger generation. In response to that, we have created our new coffee house format that provides guests with 6 different ways of brewing coffee along with offering single original coffee beans to satisfy the new demand in the market.

Q:  What are some customer service essentials that are incorporated into Tim Hortons brand building?

Hesham: Listening to the customers and studying the trends are keys to success for any business. We listen to consumers and try to work on their needs. Small gestures and details matter to customers such as the coziness of the café, lighting, music and feel of the place. We were the first coffee brand to develop and introduce Tim Hortons Application in the region where the customers may order through the App for dine in, pick up or delivery.

Q: What is your philosophy when it comes to ensuring customer happiness?

Hesham: “Listen” to the customers and pay attention to small details. Make them feel heard. The voice of the customer is your key to growing, developing and succeeding.

Q: Do you have any staff training programs in place and what key soft skills do you focus on?

Hesham: We provide constant training programs for all levels, both, technical, and soft skills. I teach 4 major workshops every year for the executive and management team and encourage the team to do the same with their own teams. Development is the job of all leaders, and it should never stop.

Q: What customer service essentials are included in your staff training?

Hesham: We have a comprehensive training program for service employees where all essential parts of service are covered based on the customer journey. It’s not just the coffee we focus on, it’s the entire experience from the time the customers arrive to the time they leave and how we can make the visit a memorable one.

Q: What feedback mechanisms do you have in place and how do you deal with unhappy customers?

Hesham: Nowadays, with social media, feedback is constant from customers through all channels. We also have constant feedback from our guests through our App. However, I enjoy the most when I stop by a table and ask the customers directly. They will always tell you the truth. Don’t be shy to ask.

Q: With the rapid growth in digital media, how much emphasis do you place on social media and website support to respond to customer queries? Do you offer online customer support on your digital platforms and is this support 24/7?

Hesham: We have a constant monitoring of our social media platforms, and we ensure that we get back to the customer within 24 hours.

Q: What kind of loyalty programs and promotions do you have in place to keep customers coming back to you?

Hesham: We are revamping our current App and we will be introducing our new loyalty program in August though the App. Stay tuned!

Q: How are you using technology to improve the customer service experience?

Hesham:  Through social media, our App and being relevant to all ages. Technology is the driver for growth, and we make sure we are keeping up with it as we grow.

Q: Please shed some light on some of the innovations happening at Tim Hortons in the future.

Hesham: In terms of product innovation, we are constantly developing new ways to make a drink either cold or hot. I invite everyone to visit our coffee houses in Dubai Hills Mall and Q Park in Jeddah to experience the different ways of brewing coffee and live the experience. On the service side, our new upcoming revamped App will demonstrate the power of AI and each customer will experience the App as if it is his own based on his purchasing habits, frequency, and favorite products. It will personalize the experience and develop an unmatched loyalty.

About Hesham Almekkawi

Hesham Almekkawi is a Food and Beverage industry expert with more than 27 years of experience in managing global and international chains of restaurants in the USA and the Middle East. He was appointed in 2021 as the CEO of AG Café International Management Company to spearhead an aggressive growth plan for Tim Hortons in the Middle East. He is the Author of “The 9 Traits of Hero Brands”