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Blog: Measuring Customer Expectations - Kano Model

When we consider quality, we think of two aspects, the first is a quality of design; this is embedded in the design specifications of the product or service. Does the design satisfy the customer needs? And how does the design compare with competition. The second is conformance quality; and this depends on the production and delivery processes or the operations. Does the process output match the design specifications? And, do we have generation of defects and discrepancies? So, to achieve quality of design, we need to identify the customers’ wants and needs; the voice-ofthe-customer or VOC and sometimes, you also hear voice-of-business or VOB. These are what the customer is expecting from our product and services, the features that the customer wants. These become then, our product design specifications, and we try to make these robust against changes. These wants and needs translated into the so called, critical-to-quality characteristics or CTQ's, and these should be measurable. And these allow us to evaluate, whether or not our product or service is meeting the voice-of-the-customer. Now, in order to assure a conformance quality, we need to ensure that the outcome, or the performance is what is specified by the design specifications, for these CTQ parameters. So here, we will use statistical techniques, to control and to optimize our CTQ parameters. We’re going to focus on the quality of design and the voice of the customer. We need to capture what is the essential customer expectations, for a specific type of product or service. And as we'll see, one challenge is that every need of the customer is not equally weighted by the customer. So, we need to identify first, the voice-of-the-customer and then, categorize and prioritize these needs, and this must occur for every Improvement Project. So the critical to quality parameters reflect the important quality characteristics from the customer. 

Customers’ satisfaction represents the degree to which customers’ expectations for a product or service are met or exceeded. Not all attributes of a product or service performance are equal in the eyes of the customer. When you provide a product or service to a customer, they receive benefits from the variety of features that make up the specific product or service.  Each feature varies in importance to the customer and affects their overall satisfaction level.  When looking at ways to improve the products or services you provide, it is a good idea to develop an understanding of which features form the foundation of the service, which can be adjusted to give the customers additional value, and where opportunities can be found to impress the customer. One well-known method, of categorizing and prioritizing, the different customer requirements was proposed by Professor Noriaki Kano, a professor at Tokyo Rika University. The Kano model is a theory of product development and customer satisfaction, developed in the 1980s and this classifies customer preferences into different categories.

Kano Model Theory

The Kano model is a theory of product development and customer satisfaction and this classifies customer preferences into different categories. It is a framework for considering, measuring and implementing activities to not only provide customer satisfaction but also bring delight to customers. According to Kano, product/service attributes can be classified into five groups: Basic Quality Attributes, Performance Quality Attributes, Excitement Quality Attributes, Indifference Quality Attributes, Reverse Quality Attributes


Basic Quality Attributes (Expected): These are the must-have features that are expected from the product and not usually mentioned by customers. They are mentioned only when they are absent from the product. Basic quality characteristics are required for entering a market and you need certain features of your product or service which are common and offered by the competitors as well. They may be not specifically identified, but the customer will be dissatisfied if these features are not present. 
Performance Quality Attributes (One-Dimensional): When people discuss needs, they discuss satisfiers. Satisfaction is proportional to the level of fulfilment of these attributes. These attributes produce both satisfaction and dissatisfaction depending on the performance levels of the product. These are the most visible features and with which companies compete with each other. The price a customer is willing to pay for a product is closely related to the performance attributes. So the stronger the satisfier, the higher price people are willing to pay. 
Excitement Quality Attributes (Delighters or WOW Requirements): These attributes are often unspoken. Creation of some exciting features in a design differentiates the product from the competition. Delighters though they differentiate your product from the competition they’ll create customer loyalty and they’ll build an additional brand equity. But one day a delighter might turn into a must-have attribute for a product release. 
Indifference Quality Attributes: These features are those to which customer attach is no important. If you have the parameters that your customer is simply not interested in, they don’t create any satisfaction but nor do they create dissatisfaction. 

Reverse Quality Attributes: Reverse quality elements are those features, which if present would lead to customer dissatisfaction and in absence, would lead to customer satisfaction. These features are those features which result in dissatisfaction, often due to the fact that not all customers are alike.