Developing products can be a delight.
What is the Kano Model?
The Kano Model describes the connection between customer satisfaction and the realization of customer requirements. Noriaki Kano, professor (emeritus) of Tokyo University of Science, developed a model for customer satisfacton in 1978, known today as the Kano Model. He determined 5 characteristics of customer requirements:
- Threshold attributes (Must-be qualities). These attributes are taken for granted when fulfilled but result in dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. Customers expect these attributes and view them as basic; it is unlikely that they are going to tell the company about them when asked about quality attributes.
- Performance attributes (One-dimensional qualities). These attributes result in satisfaction when fulfilled and dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. These are attributes that are spoken and the ones in which companies compete. If they are excelled customer satisfaction increases accordingly.
- Excitement attributes (Attractive qualities). These attributes provide satisfaction when achieved but do not cause dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. They are not normally expected and thus often unspoken.
- Indifferent qualities. These aspects are neither good or bad and have no effect, positive or negative, on customer satisfaction.
- Reverse qualities. If these aspects exist they lead to dissatisfaction; if they do not exist they do not lead to satisfaction.
It is not possible to deduce an overall satisfaction level from the Kano Model.
Product characteristics have different effects on customer satisfaction
Why is the Kano Model important?
The Kano Model is a powerful means of analyzing customers and their satisfaction:
- It shows that different kinds of requirements can exist for products. What do customers expect? What increases satisfaction? How can companies differentiate themselves? How is it possible to excite customers as well as non-customers? What should be neglected?
- It shows that increasing the number of must-have qualities does not help to differentiate a company or product from competitors.
- One-dimensional qualities have direct impact on customer satisfaction.
- Attractive qualities are the best means of setting yourself apart in the competition. Since they are not expected by the customer they are difficult to ascertain. Also, not all first-to-market pioneers are successful.
- Investing in indifferent qualities makes no sense because they have no effect on customer satisfaction.
- Reverse qualities are to be avoided because they result in rejection and a bad company image.
- There is a temporal dynamic: Excitement attributes become performance attributes over time; performance attributes become threshold attributes over time. An example is the swiping technology for mobile devices; they used to excite many people but are expected today and do not increase customer satisfaction.
- There is also a reverse temporal dynamic: Threshold attributes become excitement attributes, e.g. catering on flights.