Product management, Product Roadmap

Kano Prioritization- What is it and Learn Kano Product Prioritization Model

By on January 27, 2020

Building a better product is the top priority for software development companies. Members of all teams understand that customer satisfaction levels are important for product improvement. But not too many companies know how to make this functional knowledge work for them.

In a recent article, we wrote about the MoSCoW technique. Today’s post is about a model created in the 1980s by a Japanese educator, Noriaki Kano. The Kano Model theory has turned out highly applicable to modern-day product development. The model classifies customer preferences into five categories for further use in the product improvement strategy.

Let’s take a closer look at what the Kano Model is and how it can benefit your company.

Noriaki-Kano-divided-customer-preferences

What are the characteristics of the Kano Model?

The Kano model is an excellent customer satisfaction analysis tool. By using the Kano model, the product developers can come up with a list of features to add to existing products and services. A questionnaire can help in aligning their priorities too. These features are aimed at making the current product better than its competition. Once listed down, these feature additions can be analyzed according to their customer satisfaction potential and functional implementation costs.

What is the Kano Model used for?

Kano Model can be used for identifying three customer needs:

  • Need for Basic Features – basic threshold factors that need to be considered when attracting and retaining customers. They may include packaging, good price-to-quality-ratio, and excellent operation. Customers take such features for granted (like a “contact us” button on the website). If they are absent, the customer is likely to be unhappy.
  • Need for Performance features – the more performance attributes you add to the product or service, the happier your customers are. For example, if you add a spell check to your app or provide extra cloud space. A direct correlation exists between investment in performance attributes and customer satisfaction.
  • Need for Excitement features – these features aren’t vital to customer satisfaction. They are meant for customer delight, to exceed customers expectations. A customer wouldn’t miss these attributes if they weren’t there. However, as a user discovers them, their excitement threshold goes up. Such delight can create a huge positive response to your product or service. But in some cases, these features may go unnoticed. So there isn’t a direct correlation between your investment and customer satisfaction.

When should you apply the Kano Model?

The Kano model can be used by product managers to prioritize features that can be included in the product or solution. The model works by grouping the individual items in the new features list into categories. These categories can be vastly different – from those that can disappoint customers to the ones that are primed to delight them. The process is applied before the development team starts working on the necessary features, or even concurrently with key features being developed. Once product managers know the basic building blocks of their intended output, they can apply the Kano model to identify important features or attributes that can enhance customer experience and determine the optimal effort required to bring them to life.

How do you analyze Kano results?

Results of the Kano model can be analysed on a discrete level that divides respondents of the questionnaire by the demographic, categorizes answers, tallies responses received for features in question, and ranks them based on their importance. The ranking of the attributes are then used to identify the most viable solutions for the team to act on, based on the efforts involved, and the new features that are best equipped to create the most impact on customer experience are taken forward. Remaining results are tabled to be visited later, or used as inputs for the next cycle.

What are Kano’s five quality types?

The Kano model is known for its simplicity in segmenting new features by customer satisfaction categories. Noriaki Kano divided customer preferences into five categories, which may overlap with customers’ needs.

Kano-Model-Identifying-Customer-Needs
  • Must-Have Quality

Features the customer takes for granted. If they are absent, the level of dissatisfaction can be high. For example, clean plates in a restaurant, turning lights in a car, quick loading time for a webpage.

  • Attractive Quality

When customers encounter these product or service features, they are satisfied. However, if these features are missing, customers aren’t dissatisfied. These are “surprise” product or service features. For example, towel swans on beds in hotel rooms or a second free trial month for an app.

  • One-Dimensional Quality

These features result in customer satisfaction when they are present. Meanwhile, their absence may call for customer dissatisfaction. These attractive features are what companies use to gain a competitive edge. For example, extremely tasty food at a restaurant or quick software customer support.

  • Indifferent Quality

Features that customers can’t classify as good or bad. They are just there. It could be a colorful startup screen for an app or a detailed label on a juice carton.

  • Reverse Quality

These are high-quality performance features, which don’t always achieve customer satisfaction. The same feature can irritate one customer and satisfy another one. For example, the request to insert a profile picture may make one app user happy while annoying another one.

What is the focus of the Kano Model?

The focus of the Kano model is to evaluate which features fall into which categories, and can be realised with a well-defined Kano survey. You can ask existing customers one positively and one negatively-framed question about each feature.

  • Positive – if a feature would allow you to share your photos with other users, how would you feel?
  • Negative – if a feature wouldn’t allow you to share your photos with other users, how would you feel?

The responses to both questions are limited to:

  • I like it
  • It must be this way
  • Neutral feelings
  • I can live with it
  • I dislike it

The survey can help prioritize attractive features and figure out which may need tweaking to satisfy the “excitement” need.

What is the Kano Model in Six Sigma?

The Kano Model is a Six Sigma tool, as it prioritizes product or service features from a customer viewpoint. It allows product development teams to rate attributes on basic needs, performance and excitement for customers. To take the full advantage of the model for product improvement, you need to make a list of features you are offering your clients and segment them according to their qualities and users’ needs. Are you only offering basic features? Then you may want to consider investing in excitement options.

Kano model

Map your product features against the Kano model (image source). Continue investing in features that satisfy your customers rather than focusing on indifferent-quality management features. Add excitement options and pay attention to performance features.

Find exciting features that are unique to your product or service. They are likely to boost customer satisfaction tremendously.

While taking advantage of the Kano Model, you have to understand that it’s not static. With time, attractive features turn into basic expectations. If you give an extra Mb of storage space every month, it will become something the customers expect. After a year, the absence of such a feature will lead to high dissatisfaction. That’s why it’s better to create new features to excite customers regularly rather than maintain the same ones over time.

Final Thought

The Kano Model can offer useful insight into how well your management is in satisfying your customers’ needs and what you can do to improve your product or service. The model allows you to take a data-driven approach to product development and improvement.

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