Are you aware of the Kano Model of customer satisfaction? It's the brainchild of Noriaki Kano, a professor at Tokyo University. Dr. Kano developed the Kano Model to help companies improve customer satisfaction. It encourages companies to be more strategic about the features they include in their products or services.
As you develop a customer satisfaction strategy, you likely have a gut feel on what currently works in your company and what doesn't. But you may not be able to implement all of your customer satisfaction ideas right now. It helps to have a structured, analytic approach, such as the Kano Model, to help you prioritize your customer satisfaction efforts.
How Does the Kano Model Work?
The Kano Model starts by asking you to classify the attributes of your product and service in four main categories:
- Threshold Requirements: These are the basic features your customers expect. They don't increase customer satisfaction because they are taken for granted. Kano calls these "Must-Bes." Without them, the product or service would be incomplete. An example would be windshield wipers on a car.
- Performance Requirements: These are features that are not essential, but are known. (For example, heated seats and steering wheels.) Performance features can increase customer satisfaction, and customers may be willing to pay more for such features. They may be features that customers look for when evaluating your product or service against your competitor.
- Excitement Requirements: These are features that customers are not aware they want, but they're delighted when they find them. An example would be forward-collision warning. This is the "wow" factor that can generate a pleasant surprise. Kano calls these "Delighters." Doing more here may help set you apart from the competition.
- Indifferent Attributes: These are the features that customers don't view as necessary. Having these features doesn't increase customer satisfaction, but their absence doesn't cause customer dissatisfaction either. An example would be having a car guide in several languages.
The Kano Model can offer many potential benefits. For example, it may be a useful tool for:
- identifying, or better understanding, what your customer needs from your product or service.
- providing insights for the initial concept development.
- making it easier to prioritize your ideas for improving customer satisfaction.
- analyzing your competitors' products and services.
- helping you stand out from your competition.
How to Use the Kano Model to Help Increase Customer Satisfaction
The Kano Model offers a structured and helpful approach to assessing your product and services with customer satisfaction in mind.
First, the model has you brainstorm all of the possible features that can please your customers. Does your product or service include all the essentials that are taken for granted? What extras can you include that can help you stay competitive? Beyond the extras, what can you do to overdeliver? What can you do that's out of the ordinary, that can delight your potential customers?
The next step is sorting out the results of your brainstorming into four categories: Must-Haves, Performance, Delighters and Not Relevant.
The Kano Model asks you to ensure that you meet all of the Must-Haves, or threshold requirements. According to the model, these should be your top priority because their absence could cause dissatisfaction.
The model also advises that you don't spend any time on features that fall into the Not Relevant category. They are likely to be a money sink. Consider removing them, if you can.
Next, you'll analyze the performance attributes in your list. Divide them into four categories to help you decide what you can focus on. The categories are solutions that:
- have a major impact on customer satisfaction and are also simple to implement,
- have a major impact on pleasing customers, but are very complex or expensive to institute,
- have a minor impact in increasing customer satisfaction, but are simple or inexpensive to add,
- have a minor impact on customer satisfaction and will be complex or expensive to institute.
Finally, the Kano Model has you use the same process for delighters (i.e. your potential excitement generators). According to the Kano Model, these are the criteria that have the greatest influence on how satisfied a customer will be with a product or service. This may be a fruitful category to invest your effort in because it may differentiate your product or service from the competition. These attributes may also influence your potential customers to choose you in a crowded market where there are many other choices. It might give you an opportunity not to compete on price alone.
It's important to note that in the Kano Model, no category is more important than another. Ideally, consider using a balanced approach where your product or service can satisfy all three main requirements. That is, it has all the basics that customers expect; it's competitive in terms of performance (i.e. those features that people talk about and are more interested in); and finally, it has some delighters—the pleasant surprises that add to the customer's enjoyment. A product or service that has all three of the Kano Model requirements may help you stand out in a copycat market.
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