What Do Customers Want? Professor Kano Knows

I’m guessing that many of you weren’t sure what this post would be about given the title. That’s because most people have never heard of Professor Noriaki Kano. But anyone who deals with customer experience (or product development) should definitely learn about his work. Professor Kano is probably best known for creating the Kano Model (developed in the 1980’s) that classifies customer preferences into five categories:

  1. Attractive (unexpected value)
  2. One-Dimensional (the more, the better)
  3. Must-Be (need to have these)
  4. Indifferent (no impact)
  5. Reverse (negative impact)

It’s critical that companies understand what attributes matter most to customers — and in what way. By classifying product/interaction attributes using the Kano Model, priorities become much clearer. Here’s how you make decisions:

  • Meet the minimum requirement for all of the must-be attributes
  • Add value with the one-dimensional attributes
  • Infuse a few attractive attributes to really enhance the experience
  • Make sure that you’re not investing in any indifferent attributes or creating any reverse attributes.

The bottom line: Not all customer preferences are equal. Use the Kano Model to (wisely) pick which ones to serve.

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

7 thoughts on “What Do Customers Want? Professor Kano Knows”

  1. Hi Bruce,

    Not only is Kano extremely relevant to Customer Experience Management(that we hear of him so rarely is a shame), but you’ve also provided a great example of how inter-dependent Product Development and Customer Experience are(or should be, at least); For example, in the use of customer feedback from Call Centers, Product/Technical Support orgs to inform the Product Development(and R&D, Marketing and Sales, for that matter) process.

    Because Customer Preferences are really about the human condition, something notoriously difficult to get a handle on, such a structured model is very helpful as a guide.

    Thanks for the reminder!
    Russ
    Seattle, WA
    http://www.twitter.com/russhatfield

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