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Happy Customers: Kano

This is part 5 of a 5 part series on Happy Customers.

Getting Satisfaction

Yesterday we covered gathering feedback from your customers about potential product and service improvements, but we didn’t get into specifics. Today we’ll get specific by reviewing the Kano model, which was developed in the 1980s to organize qualitative feedback and make decisions about product features. It’s a great way to be data driven when conducting customer interviews.

There are three stages to applying the Kano Model:

Step 1. Questions

For each of the potential features you might implement, you will ask the customer two questions:

  • How do you feel if the product has this feature?
  • How do you feel if the product does not have this feature?

The customer needs to choose between five possible answers for each question: “I like it”, ”I expect it”, “I am neutral”, “I can tolerate it” or “I dislike it”.

Step 2. Organizing the Data

For each feature, you will classify it into one of the following categories:

  • Must-Be (M) are features the user expects but do not excite them.
  • Performance (P) are features the user likes the more you have them.
  • Attractive (A) are features that excite the user and might be unexpected.
  • Indifferent (I) are features where the customer doesn’t care either way.
  • Reverse (R) are features the customer dislikes.
  • Questionable (Q) are features where the customer gave conflicting answers.

How do you classify features into these categories? You take all of the responses from the questions and tally them up. Then, you choose the feature category based on the highest tally (or tallies) in the following table:

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 9.01.08 PM

If there are features where the tallies are unclear, you will have to use your judgement OR consider segmenting your customers to understand why they do not agree. But what do we do with the classifications once we have them?

Step 3. Analyzing the Data

The Kano Model provides a great framework for considering the different classifications of features along two axes: Satisfaction and Functionality. Satisfaction represents how happy it makes customers (ranging from “Frustrated” to “Delighted”) and Functionality represents how much of the feature you have in your product (ranging from “Missing” to “Complete”). The model then maps the classifications as follows:


This mapping helps you understand where to invest your effort in implementing Functionality to achieve the highest return on customer satisfaction. As you can see, Attractive features make customers much happier the more you implement them so they would always be the top priority. Must-Be features have a very quick diminishing returns so investing more into them is unlikely to change customer satisfaction. Performance features are fairly linear, so whenever possible investing in them will have a direct (if not huge) impact on customer satisfaction. Questionable, Indifferent and Reverse features are ignored since they have zero to negative impact on satisfaction.

An important part of the Kano Model (and products in general) is that Attractive features will, over time, become Performance features and eventually Must-Be features. This happens as customers become used to having a new feature and it no longer is new and exciting but part of what they expect.

This is a brief overview, you can read a great in-depth explanation and instruction manual for using the model here: Read More about the Kano Model.

Next Week: Over the past two weeks we touched briefly on how some uncommon customer segmentations can greatly improve your business strategy. Next week we’ll focus in on customer segmentation and how you can use some advanced segmentations to build a competitive advantage!

Quote of the Day: “I can’t get no satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones

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The Happy Customers series