Defining the voice of the customer part 1: the Kano model

The Kano model

There is a nice model I use a lot to help people create value. It also helps in prioritizing improvement efforts. It is called the Kano model. You can see below what it looks like.

Kano model

Kano model

Each of these lines represents a category of requirements. Some are more urgent than others to resolve. When you try to plot the attributes of your product or service you will gain a deeper insight in what makes your customers happy or unhappy. You will also find out what you do not know about your customer experience.

The requirements

The basics are also known as must-be requirements. If one of these basics is not there, the product is not complete. They are the product or service features that make customers dissatisfied if they are not there. Customers will just be neutral if the features are there. For instance if you sell bank accounts, customers will not be extra happy when they can withdraw money from the bank. They will be extremely unhappy when they cannot withdraw money from the bank. If something is lacking in the basics, then your improvement efforts will need to focus on those basics first. Customers will not appreciate being able to check their account online if they still cannot withdraw money from their account.

The satisfiers are also known as one-dimensional quality. They are the requirements that are spoken out loud and are used to compete in the market place. When these requirements are fulfilled they lead to satisfaction. When they are not fulfilled, they lead to dissatisfaction. Here you can think of a competitive interest rate on your savings account. If it is higher people will be happier. If it is below average people will be dissatisfied. In priority these satisfiers come directly after basics.

The delighters are also known as attractive quality. When achieved fully it will lead to higher satisfaction. When it is not achieved, people will not be dissatisfied. You recognize a delighter by that moment when you are pleasantly surprised about a product or service. For instance when you open a savings account and find out you receive extra interest for a year. It only helps to work on this kind of value when you have your basics covered. Otherwise customers will still be dissatisfied.

Two additional categories

There are two other types of quality. They are not often discussed, but they are very helpful

  • Indifferent quality these are aspects of your product or service that do not have any relation to satisfaction or dissatisfaction. For instance when you buy an insurance and you receive a colorful policy proving your insurance. When you focus on these indifferent attributes you can reduce costs greatly. Most people find it hard to identify these properly.
  • Reverse quality this is when a high degree of performance leads to dissatisfaction in some customers, but not in all customers. This is due to the fact that not all customers are the same. Some love high tech services, others hate them. In one of my jobs we often had customers who divorced. This had a serious impact on their retirement benefits. They could choose several options. One option they had was to renounce their right to each other bereavement benefits. We asked both partners to sign for this. Some customers felt very happy about this process. It feels like they are protected from each other’s ill will. Others filed a formal complaint. They felt we were makes things unduly hard on them. Here you will need to make a choice, keep it the same or adjust?

The requirements over time

Over time the delighters will become satisfiers and satisfiers will become basics. Your phone is good example. A decade or two ago having internet or a camera on your phone was a delighter. It became a satisfier and now it is a basic requirement for many people.

How to find your Kano model?

There are many ways to fill out your Kano model. The best way is to talk to your customers. Preferably these are both detractors and promoters of your product and brand. When you know what needs and requirements your product should fulfill you can ask the customer about how they rate these requirements:

  • How do customers feel when the requirement is met? (Love it, expect nothing less, do not care, it’s ok, I do not want it)
  • How do customers feel when a requirement is missing? (Love that it is not there, expect it like this, do not care, I am ok with it not being there, I do not want it like this)

When you have an internal customer or you cannot talk to your external customer you can try to fill out the Kano model with an internal group. Be sure to involve a lot of front line staff with daily customer contact. In this group as well it is very important to have a diverse group. You can use brainstorm methods, data analysis and benchmarks to fill out your model. The model will serve as a guide for future improvement.

This article has been updated at the 28th of December.

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