The Kano model of customer satisfaction explained: when to use it and why

What is the Kano model of customer satisfaction? How does it relate to UX design?

UX design focuses on making the experience of your users as easy and as enjoyable as possible on the online platforms of your company. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a model focusing on customer satisfaction is one of the methods employed by UX design agencies. The Kano model helps in determining how satisfied customers are with different features of a product or a service based on 5 different priorities.

  • Must-be customer priorities

This is what customers expect of a service or a product. If these features are missing they will be strongly dissatisfied. Having them won’t bring you a strong advantage, but without these features, you cannot provide the basis for customer satisfaction. For example, having running water in a bathroom probably won’t get a hotel many five star reviews, but just imagine the online response if this was a missing feature. 

  • One-dimensional/performance-related customer priorities

These are attributes that can be directly compared and quantified between the products of two different companies. Think about the battery life of laptops of and mobile phones, the storage space of HDD devices, or the horsepower of muscle cars. The more you can provide attributes like these compared to your competitors, the more satisfied your customers will be. 

  • Indifferent customer priorities

It is also important to identify those features that customers feel indifferent about because if there are elements that your target audience simply doesn’t care about (i.e. doesn’t result in either satisfaction or dissatisfaction), you can avoid spending time and resources on developing these.

  • Reverse customer priorities

Reverse features are also elements companies need to try and avoid. In this case, it’s because these are elements that customers don’t like having in certain products, and like it when they are not implemented in the final design. This can be about outdated designs or visual formats in manuals that customers simply don’t find attractive or transparent enough.

  • Attractive customer priorities

As opposed to “must-be” priorities, features that are considered “attractive” are all about exceeding the expectations of your customers and providing you with a competitive advantage. They are not expected but can lead to a great level of satisfaction when implemented. In other words, this is like your USP (unique selling proposition). Something unique that only your product or service can provide.

When and why should you use the Kano model?

UX design agencies use the Kano model to give their clients a clear picture of how their target audience would receive a future product, and what they need. The essence of the whole model is to plan product and service development according to the existing needs and desires of your potential customers, instead of trying to convince them that they need your product after it has already hit the market.

According to Ergomania UX design agency, the Kano model is worth applying when you want to know the actual needs and preferences of your target audience before developing a new product or redesigning an existing product, which will save you a significant amount of money and time.

Another potential benefit of using the Kano model is that you may discover that sometimes one or two minor changes can make all the difference in the world when it comes to being well-received by your target audience.

One of the simplest methods to apply the Kano model in UX research is to compile and evaluate customer surveys. This can be applied in either quantitative or qualitative methods with a smaller number of people being interviewed.

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