Friday 30 November 2018

The Kano model

The Kano model is a useful tool to help the design team or even an improvement team develop ideas that will WOW the customer by addressing needs that the customer does not even know they have. It is a simple model for customer satisfaction that posits three satisfaction regions; Dissatisfaction, Satisfaction, and Delight.

The model was developed by Japanese TQM consultant Noriaki Kano*. The Kano model is useful for process improvement teams as well as design teams to help the team think outside the box for innovative solutions that are focused on meeting and hopefully exceeding customer needs. Here a visual of the model: (Click to enlarge)

Kano Model- step by step Guide

The model works this way. A product or service that does not meet the customers' unspoken or basic needs will result in dissatisfaction of the customer. A product or service that does not meet the expressed needs will also result in dissatisfaction. Think of it like this.

You purchase a car that claims to get 100 miles to a gallon of gas. If that car does not actually get 100 miles or more to a gallon of gas, you will be dissatisfied. If that car also has no steering wheel, you will be really dissatisfied even though you didn't expressly ask for a steering wheel to be included.

That's the difference between a spoken and an unspoken need. Unspoken (Basic) needs are assumed to be present, until they are not. The interesting thing about basic needs is that by meeting them, satisfaction does not improve, but the absence of them will cause satisfaction to decrease.

Abstract from above visual example

Having a steering wheel in your car does not make you a satisfied customer, you assume it will be there. The other interesting thing about basic needs is that customer expectations advance over time and things that were satisfies in the past, become expected today and in the future.

In our visual example above, the customer is dissatisfied because the machine that they purchased from us does not complete a manufacturing cycle without causing a process reset activity. A basic need in this example might be that the machine controls actually function properly.

In order to move from the basic needs into a leadership position, the customers' expressed needs must be met. In our example, to move from dissatisfaction to satisfaction, the team must solve reliability issues with the machine such that the customer can complete a cycle without having to reset the process.

If the team is able to redesign the system to perform reliably, customer satisfaction will improve. This will be particularly true. If performance of the new system exceeds competitors performance.

Kano Model Challenges

Moving from dissatisfaction to customer delight is where the real power of this tool lies. This is where innovation and out-of-box thinking comes into play. The Kano model challenges us to think about what would delight the customer in regards to the problem we are working on.

Delight results from the delivery of a product or service to the market that the market didn't ask for but once its is experience. The customer can not do without it. Using our car example from earlier, if our car achieved 100 miles per gallon of gas. AND had an autopilot function for long trips. That might delight some customers who would prefer to nap or read than drive on a long trip.

The iPhone is another example of a delighter. Flash memory sticks were a delighter to those of us that remember floppy disks. Those were not things that customer's demanded. But they were recognize as extremely valuable once the idea was introduce.


In our visual example, the customers that did not experience the problem. But experience the upgrade to prevent the problem from occurring were delighted by the service provided.

I recently talk about a couple of myths about six sigma. One of those myths was that six sigma stifles innovation. Use of the Kano Model as a tool in the six sigma process is one way to make sure that innovation is not stiff. But encouraged in the problem solving process as well as in the development process.

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