Many of the readers may have heard of the Kano model. For those who haven’t, can you explain where it came from and how it is used?
The Kano Model was created by Professor Noriaki Kano, from Japan, in the early 80s during his research on customer satisfaction. Although the model has several objectives, the main one is to help development teams uncover, classify, and integrate three main categories of customer needs and attributes into the products or services they are developing. These main categories of needs are classified depending on their ability to create customer satisfaction or cause dissatisfaction. At the risk of oversimplifying the categories of needs, they are the unspoken “Given’s”, the spoken “Evaluated needs” and the unspoken “Unexpected Innovations”. Missing any of these needs will jeopardise the competitive success of any product or service being developed.
When is the most appropriate time for using the Kano model?
I recommend using the model in two instances in a typical product development process. First, very early, to educate the research team about customer psychology, that is, understanding what motivates customer choices in their decision making process when alternatives exist. Secondly, once the requirements are understood and documented, the model can be used to categorise the requirements to ensure all three categories of needs are appropriately addressed to meet the project goals.
The Kano model was created in the 1980s, with the use of the web and instant information, is the model still as relevant in today’s fast paced environment?
It can easily be argued it is even more appropriate in the global competitive landscape that exists today. Customers have more choices now than ever and the company that best understands their customers’ needs will win. In my opinion, the philosophy behind the model will never be obsolete, only enhanced. A natural evolution or extension of the Kano Model is already happening where specific and modern strategies and tools are being developed to help an organisation create an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the three categories of needs.
Is the model still useful in a non-engineering/manufacturing environment?
Absolutely! The Kano Model has and will continue to be applied anywhere and anytime there are customers to satisfy, internal or external. It has a universal and broad applications to products, manufacturing processes, services, software and business processes.