Fredrik Hamilton of Budbee: “Keep it simple”

Listen to your customers and use all the tools available to create several ways which enables them to share what was good (and bad) without pushing them to jump through hoops. Keep it simple. At Budbee, we ask all of our customers to rate their delivery experience after they have received their goods. This not […]

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Listen to your customers and use all the tools available to create several ways which enables them to share what was good (and bad) without pushing them to jump through hoops. Keep it simple. At Budbee, we ask all of our customers to rate their delivery experience after they have received their goods. This not only gives us a brilliant tool to coach our drivers (old and new), but also the ability to constantly monitor feedback which can sometimes spark new ideas and features.

As a part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fredrik Hamilton, CEO and Founder of Budbee.

Having been frustrated by the inefficiency of last mile delivery services, Fredrik founded Budbee in 2015. The company initially concentrated on last-mile deliveries for groceries and then, following angel investor backing, developed logtech software and an infrastructure to develop a modern last-mile logistics service for Stockholm. In late 2016 the company started to focus solely on e-commerce packages, operating home deliveries for e-retailers such as Apotea and Bangerhead. Following Stockholm success, Budbee expanded to Malmö and Gothenburg in 2017.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Budbee is a Swedish logtech company which I founded in 2015 when I became increasingly frustrated by the inefficiency of last mile delivery services. Our company offers a sustainably focused delivery service committed to maximising the efficiency of ‘the last mile’: the final step in the process of a product’s journey from the warehouse shelf to the customer’s doorstep.

Prior to founding the company, I studied at the Stockholm School of Economics and travelled to Turkey to work for Rocket internet. Within less than a year after I returned to Sweden, I started what is now Budbee, which initially concentrated on last-mile deliveries for groceries. Then, following angel investor backing, we developed logtech software and infrastructure to develop a modern last-mile logistics service for Stockholm.

In late 2016, the company started to focus solely on e-commerce packages, operating home deliveries for e-retailers such as Apotea and Bangerhead. Following success in Stockholm, Budbee then expanded to Malmö and Gothenburg in 2017. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength following its inception into the Swedish market we quickly expanded our operations into Finland, Denmark, and The Netherlands where collectively we deliver millions of parcels every month either to home addresses or to our Budbee boxes. By the end of 2020, we plan to have 26,000 delivery lockers (contained within 400 Budbee Boxes) installed across Sweden alone.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

When I first started out within the delivery space, I wasn’t really focused on the type of deliveries I would be making, so I decided it was a good idea to accept a “special deal” delivering Christmas trees (and then pick them up after the holiday season). I soon found out that this service was far from frictionless. In fact, it was sticky (physically and theoretically) for all the drivers, plus the investments in infrastructure to handle tree deliveries was useless. What would I do with the other 11 months of the year?

From this experience, I learned that you should focus your efforts on one thing and one thing only. Dare to standardise and don’t feel pressure to accept every individual request that comes your way. Stable customers are your livelihood, not a “once a year” occurrence that overlaps with your regular peak season!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Budbee wouldn’t be where it is today without the fantastic professional people who inspired, coached, and mentored me along the way. There are far too many names to mention without leaving anyone out, but the main influences in my life have been my Mum and Dad. Without having them behind me, I wouldn’t have had the “anything is possible” attitude that I believe most entrepreneurs exude. My parents are the people who gave me the driving force to pursue my dreams and build the company into what it is today.

Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?

We’ve been helping tackle many of the issues that arise within the last mile of delivery; the final step in the process of a product’s journey from the warehouse shelf to the customer’s doorstep. In addition to being key to customer satisfaction, last-mile delivery is both the most expensive and time-consuming element of the shipping process, which is why the Budbee’s model — which permits flexible, real-time delivery slots at convenient locations — is the go-to option for a frictionless last-mile delivery experience.

Providing excellent customer service and having an exceptional team to deliver that good experience, especially as a startup, is a crucial asset to any business, as it helps build trust with both consumers and potential business partners. When customers have a good experience with your brand, which can bolster the reputation of the company, it reinforces the positive attitude within a workforce. Similarly, when customers are happy, they are more likely to spread the good experience with friends, family, and coworkers because, like you, you want them to commit to a brand that you trust. It starts off a chain reaction, but not just from the customer’s point of view.

When our employees receive good customer service ratings, it inspires them to continue working hard and if you have a happier customer service team, they’ll work harder to satisfy and exceed the expectations of your customers. Then, those customers will be more likely to refer others to it.

Your customers can be your best (and most reliable) form of advertising, as long as you give them a reason to do so. 97% of our several million reviews are either 4 or 5 (out of 5) stars and we want customers (old and new) to know that we deliver exceptional service and are a trusted brand.

As the world shifts into a new way of working, we need to ensure that we keep up-to-date with what consumers want and, more importantly, understand how we can adapt to fit their needs. Keeping up with trends and consumer habits is vital for our industry, especially as we are up against some of the biggest and oldest delivery companies in the world.

We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

I think that many companies are out to make money as quickly as possible and from a startup’s point of view, I can understand that. However, if you don’t take the time to listen to your customers and your customer service team, you will never be able to iron out any issues that, if left unfixed, can result in bad customer feedback and poor morale within the customer services team. This can be costly in the long run and could result in losing your customers (or employees) to competitors.

Happy customers are key to the success of a business and companies can’t survive without them. We can learn a lot by listening to them, by looking at our competitors to gain an advantage, and knowing when to adapt to change.

Because we are so driven by positive feedback, I find it surprising that such a simple process can be so easily overlooked. Feedback is very easy to collect, even in public places such as airports and shops, so there’s really no excuse. A good example of simple and effective technology which allows companies to collect feedback, are the HappyOrNot terminals that have the four faces on; typically found within high footfall areas. It’s a great example of how easy it can be to collect quick and honest feedback, but with very simple technology. I don’t think it has been innovated much since they first popped up, but there’s a very good reason for that. It simply works.

It’s very common that when people find a product or service complicated, they leave negative feedback and this is why it is vital that your user interface or product is easily navigable. If it’s not easy, people will become frustrated and won’t want to return. Our tech innovation and user experience development has enabled us to make it really easy for consumers to let us know how we performed, which is why more than ¼ of all our deliveries get rated so highly!

Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?

I strongly believe that more competition makes us (and our competitors) work harder for our customers, but standing out from the crowd within a very noisy industry can be difficult.

We found our niche within the “last mile” of delivery and plus, we really care about the impact that parcel delivery can have on the environment. The environmental impact (and how a parcel gets from A to B) isn’t necessarily something the general public thinks about first when they order goods online, but we are collectively becoming more aware of our actions, which can only be seen as a positive thing.

Our business model represents how consumer habits have been changing around online shopping, fast delivery of goods, and its impact on the environment, and we feel it’s incredibly important to not only look after our staff and customers, but the environment too. So far, the company is currently providing a 90% fossil-free delivery service, with the goal reaching 100% by 2022.

Within the logtech sector, our company has established itself as one of the leading examples of sustainability, through a number of partnerships and initiatives, and an ambitious environmental programme. With a recent report from Nielsen stating that 73% of global consumers wish to change their consumption habits to reduce environmental impact, we are well-placed to become Europe’s primary choice for the conscious consumer.

We aim to do this by offsetting the carbon footprint; a core element of Budbee’s daily deliveries. The company has compensated the CO2 emissions from every single one of its deliveries since 2015. Through its partnership with ZeroMission, which helps companies to develop and implement climate strategies, Budbee is now offsetting 110% of its logistics business emissions, striving to go beyond being climate neutral and become climate positive.

We wanted to provide the greenest last-mile delivery service possible, so to help us achieve this, we decided to create our own artificial intelligence (AI) ‘Algot’, which ensures that its vehicles never drive unnecessary distances. The AI provides a unique offering to the delivery market, by preventing extra journeys, thus maximising the company’s sustainability goals and giving Budbee a competitive edge.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

It’s important to be able to identify what problems your less satisfied customers are facing and fortunately, we were able to do so when we noticed a specific group of Budbee customers leaving negative feedback. By frequently analysing our reviews, we were able to see patterns emerge among typical baby/children products that were delivered later in the evening; they were receiving a really low customer satisfaction score, but no data supported why. When we began digging a bit deeper, we realised that even though we were on time, and the delivery person was service-minded, we woke up their children when ringing the doorbell. This created a very dissatisfied parent, so at our next feature development meeting, we came up with a new feature for “sleeping babies’’ (as we called it internally). It allows consumers to choose whether the driver should use the doorbell and speak in a normal tone of voice or knock gently and whisper. Since then we have seen thousands of wowed consumers, amazed about a delivery company caring about these details to make their total shopping experience a blast.

Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

As soon as we were able to make our service tailorable towards people with children, it changed the feedback pattern dramatically and we started seeing more positive reviews. It finally made sense.

The “sleeping babies” feature is now one of the many reasons why parents love our service and will continue to use us as their main delivery method when they can. We save them time and help them avoid inconveniences when they are spending valuable time with their families in the evening.

It also goes to show that when you make what one would consider a “minor change” to your service, it can really have a positive ripple effect and even increase the chances of those customers referring you to other people in the future.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Listen to your customers and use all the tools available to create several ways which enables them to share what was good (and bad) without pushing them to jump through hoops. Keep it simple. At Budbee, we ask all of our customers to rate their delivery experience after they have received their goods. This not only gives us a brilliant tool to coach our drivers (old and new), but also the ability to constantly monitor feedback which can sometimes spark new ideas and features.
  2. Be your own customer. Use your own products and services as often as possible because this will give you an idea of the experience your own customers are receiving. It also helps you identify what needs to be improved, fix any bugs, and view its overall performance. I personally have come up with several ideas when using Budbee “in the real world”. By understanding the different scenarios in which our drivers deliver (and how our customers receive their parcels), means that we are prepared to offer an even better, personalized customer service.
  3. Focus on one thing and do that “thing” well before starting on a new task or broadening your offering. One of the keys to our success is simply down to the fact that we, over the past four years, only prioritised home deliveries. Only after those four years have we broadened our offering and prior to doing so, made sure what we had worked and worked well before introducing our Budbee box service.
  4. We live by the philosophy of “we are not better than our last delivery”. Each and every customer is important and you will not survive if you don’t innovate and grow with the needs of your customers. Keep striving to do better than the last product or service you delivered.
  5. Think long-term rather than short-term to ensure your customers’ experience surpasses “satisfied” every single time. “Wow” experiences create long-term value and, of course, helps to maintain the customers you already have. From day one we started to invest in customer experience; confident that we had done our maths correctly and so far, profitability has come with scale four years after our launch in Sweden. This is partly due to our investment and commitment to green deliveries during 2020. It’s a cost that we do not transfer to merchants or consumers and we see it as a short term investment; not just in loyal and old customers, but the planet too. I strongly believe that these investments will pay off in both areas quicker than most might think.

Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?

Make it easy for your customers to spread good feedback!

Social media, as it develops, is becoming a place where people share extraordinary customer experiences (good and bad), so why not make it even easier for your customers to pass on the good word? The focus for companies, regardless of their size, should be ensuring that every individual experience a customer has is something they want to shout about to their friends, family, and colleagues online in a way that doesn’t take up time or require much effort. It sounds incredibly lazy, but as we all lead busy lives nowadays, it’s important to not bog your customers down with intricacies.

Being a comparatively young company to others on the market means that we are able to look at things with fresh eyes, so it’s vital to innovate and move with changes when needed (not more Christmas trees!).

We grew up in the age of social media and understand its value when it comes to acquiring new customers and keeping them happy, which is why we added a sharing button next to the rating functionality; allowing our users to simply share their experience to social media platforms.

Don’t be afraid to make tweaks to your offering and don’t forget to keep your eyes up. There will always be a younger, cleverer company ready to step into your shoes.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

During a time where we are physically separated from friends, families, and colleagues, I believe it is absolutely crucial to continue supporting social inclusion, even at the distance that COVID-19 has put between us. As the world becomes more and more polarised and segregated, we can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that we need to be united. This can only be bolstered by people and companies who are willing to make the changes and efforts required to demand better.

When we move out of this pandemic, it will take us a while to adjust to new ways of working and those who have unfortunately lost jobs, will be on the lookout for a new career. Be an inspiration to other companies and offer better and safer jobs which have the option to be built upon and made into a career rather than just a quick way to make money.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the fact that yes, we can work collaboratively and effectively cross-country, with distance being just miles between us, but the power of technology has really brought us all together when we physically can’t be. I believe that all of us can collectively create a better, global company culture that offers flexibility and reliability, thus improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

All of your readers can follow Budbee on our social media channels which include:

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