The Kano Model – how to delight your customer

Chalked image of a Kano Model graph of customer delight

The Kano model was developed in the 80s by Professor Noriaki Kano. It is based on the concept of customer quality and provides a simple ranking scheme which distinguishes between essential and differentiating attributes.

It is a technique that helps businesses understand varying levels of value that customers place on different features of its product and services.

The Kano model helps factualise what the client really expects, and maps current performance level.

We map how customer needs are fulfilled based on eight dimensions:

  1. Product/service
  2. Quality
  3. Delivery precision
  4. Special request handling
  5. Price
  6. Service – availability
  7. Service – knowledge
  8. Service – professionalism

That way we can define:

  • the different categories of clients we are servicing
  • our current service level towards the customers in each category.

This is how we secure a particular level of performance within our team and we strive to think what delighters could be introduced to the client.

Customer Requirements (or potential needs) for new products and services are categorized and plotted on the Kano graph as follows:

Dissatisfiers

These needs are considered to be basic requirements that the customer most often doesn’t articulate when making an inquiry about a certain service, but will be dissatisfied if they are not met. They can be thought of as the basic needs the customer is looking to meet when engaging with us in the first place.

Example of dissatisfiers in a typical project: engaging fewer experts in the project than agreed, which results in a longer time to deliver.

Satisfiers

These needs are asked for and are thought of as important to the customer. Hence, they are the expectations that the customer has above the basic needs. Be sure to uncover why the customer wants a certain feature or specification. The more specific their request, the more important this becomes. They can be mapped by conducting customer surveys.
By definition, for those clients where a written contractual obligation is agreed, ‘satisfiers’ are what is expected.

Example of satisfiers in a typical project: delivering according to the timeline and the outcome that was signed in the agreement.

Delighters

These are existing needs that the customer has not defined themselves. They exceed what is expected and if you meet these needs you get faithful customer and competitive advantages. Providing this kind of quality requires the supplier to have an almost overwhelming sense of what it is to be a customer.

Example of delighters in a typical project: providing additional consulting services above what was agreed.

Food for thoughts: when the delighters become the new satisfiers.

In the 1980s it was typical for UK banks to offer a free gift for customers opening a new account with the provider: a money box for child’s account, a pen for an adult one.

As this became the norm, banks had to look for other incentives or enticements to command market share. The 1990s saw them give away calculators, books and begin to offer telephone banking.

Again, expectations shifted and we now have previous delighters, like £100 cash in your account, internet banking and extended Saturday hours being expected – so what will the next delighter be and how will suppliers keep up?

Image (c) Shutterstock | Donaldb

Rachel Long