The Kano Model

The Kano Model was first developed by Dr. Noriaki Kano, a Japanese professor and international consultant. He received the individual Deming Prize in 1997. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he laid the foundation for an approach for “attractive quality creation” – commonly referred to in the U.S. as the “Kano Model”. Dr. Kano challenged the traditional idea on customer satisfaction that “more is better” – that the better you perform on each product or service attribute, the more satisfied the customers will be.

Instead, Dr. Kano held that performance on product and service attributes is not equal in the eyes of customers. Performance on certain categories of attributes produces higher levels of satisfaction than others.

In his model, Kano distinguishes between three types of product requirements which influence customer satisfaction in different ways when met:

* Must-be requirements: If these requirements are not fulfilled, the customer will be extremely dissatisfied. On the other hand, as the customer takes these requirements for granted, their fulfillment will not increase his satisfaction. The must-be requirements are basic criteria of a product. Fulfilling the must-be requirements will only lead to a state of “not dissatisfied”. The customer regards the must-be requirements as prerequisites, he takes them for granted and therefore does not explicitly demand them. Must-be requirements are in any case a decisive competitive factor, and if they are not fulfilled, the customer will not be interested in the product at all.
* One-dimensional requirements: With regard to these requirements, customer satisfaction is proportional to the level of fulfillment – the higher the level of fulfillment, the higher the customer’s satisfaction and vice versa. One-dimensional requirements are usually explicitly demanded by the customer.
* Delights:: These requirements are the product criteria which have the greatest influence on how satisfied a customer will be with a given product. Attractive requirements are neither explicitly expressed nor expected by the customer. Fulfilling these requirements leads to more than proportional satisfaction. If they are not met, however, there is no feeling of dissatisfaction.

Thus customer’s satisfaction can be represented as function of needs fulfillment:


And mentioned above three ways of customer’s satisfaction can be shown as follows:

Must-be, one-dimensional and delight requirements as well as product requirements towards which the customer is indifferent can be classified by means of a questionnaire.

For each product feature a pair of questions is formulated to which the customer can answer in one of five different ways. The first question concerns the reaction of the customer if the product has that feature (functional form of the question), the second concerns his reaction if the product does not have that feature (dysfunctional form of the question).

If the customer answers, for example, “I like it that way,” as regards “If the edges of your skis grip well on hard snow, how do you feel?” – the functional form of the question, and answers “I am neutral,” or “I can live with it that way,” as regards “If the edges of your skis don’t grip well on hard snow, how do you feel?” – the dysfunctional form of the question, the combination of the answers indicates that this feature is Delight for the customer

In addition to the questions, it might be helpful to have the customer rank the individual product criteria of the current product and to determine the relative importance of the individual product criteria (self-stated-importance). This will help to establish priorities for product development and make improvements wherever necessary.

Results evaluation and interpretation.

It is important to remember that the Kano model is dynamic. Today’s “delighter” features become tomorrows “must have” features. For example, a graphical user interface (GUI) and multi-processing were once “delighter” features, but today they are “must have” features for any desktop computer operating system. However, the basic underlying customer needs of an effective and easy to use operating system remain.

Kano model is very good also for employees satisfaction surveys as employees can be considered as internal customers.