On the day that a stalwart of the British High Street, Marks & Spencer, announces poor Christmas trading figures, I think it is apt that I should write a blog about another British retailer. In some respects Boden is very different to M&S – it is predominantly a distance retailer (catalogue and web) – but many of Boden’s customers will have, or still do shop at M&S as well. So what it is about Boden that has compelled me to write this blog?

Without giving away too much personal Golding information, the inspiration came to me whilst lying in bed with Naomi last night. It is not uncommon for Naomi to catch up on everything on her iPhone, whilst I read a book on my Kindle. It is also not uncommon for Naomi to relay all the things she is catching up on whilst I am trying to read. On occasion this can get slightly irritating – reading and listening cannot be done at the same time – well not by a bloke like me!. However, Naomi is often reciting things that are very interesting – and last night, she was telling me what she saw on Boden’s Facebook page.

Yesterday, Boden posted a question – it went like this:

“We love you all of course! But what is it you love (or hate) about Boden?”

In fact, here is the Facebook post itself.


Now this seems like a perfectly legitimate question. In fact, it is a very good question that most organisations would like to know the answer to. Many organisations attempt to find out the answer by installing customer feedback mechanisms. Customers are regularly asked to complete online surveys that literally ‘pop up’ in front of their very eyes, or are often sent emails asking them to participate. We have all seen them, but we only ever get to see the things we say or feedback. It is not a common occurrence to see an organisation ask for feedback in this way so publicly.

Do not get me wrong – this is in no way a criticism of Boden – in fact quite the opposite. I take my hat off to them for so openly and transparantley asking customers what they think (it is also a very low cost way of capturing feedback) – in a way that anyone can see the response. I am sure it will be very interesting for other retailers to see what customers are saying. In the screen shot of the Facebook page above, you can see some positive feedback – but let me show you some of the negative. Here are some ‘negative’ verbatims:

Love the mini Boden clothes not over keen on your prices,do you look how much other companies are selling same kinda a item for ?

Love MB but hate the prices.

I’d love to buy more boden but the prices are way to high and the quality is not that great. I work for a family who live in boden so wash and iron your clothes on a regular basis. They lose there shape quickly and wool items bobble so much so my son only wore his very expensive skull jumper twice.

Pay full price for mini Boden then a week later you reduce the price 🙁

Love the clothes but irritating when a catalogue arrives, go online to order and all out of stock . Happens frequently.

Dislike the super skinny models

Mini Boden clothes are lovely, but find the trousers are too short in the waist for my tall girls, we always have to go a size or two bigger to get the length and  they get builders’ bums, because they are too big around the waist.  Did not buy anything from the women’s range this winter as the colours and patterns seemed dull compared to usual and not so quirky. For the price, I want something a bit different.

I could go on – but you get the point. This is incredibly powerful and insightful stuff for the powers that be at Boden. I will state again here that they are VERY brave in gathering feedback in this way. Now they have done it, there is no going back. Despite being such an admirable thing to do, it will completely worthless UNLESS Boden demonstrate to their customers what they are going to do with the information. It is all well and good asking for it, but if they fail to do anything with it, the effect will be potentially detrimental to their business. On the other hand, if Boden take this insight and act on the key themes in a way that they can communicate back to customers – it could be an incredibly powerful tool for Boden to drive greater loyalty with their customer base.

Asking for customer feedback is now extremely common in all industries. Demonstrating to customers what you have done with the feedback they give is unfortunately not very common. Boden have an opportunity here to show the way – to lead from the front and be as transparent with their actions as they are in asking customers what they think. Do nothing though, and this will be a very damp squib.

So for now, I have become an even greater fan of Boden (Naomi and I are both Boden customers) – but I await with interest to see what will come of the simple Facebook post from the 9th January 2013.

As always, your comments are welcome.