Important Information: Processing Delays for mailed orders in July due to the RNC convention and heightened security procedures in Milwaukee. To ensure faster service, we encourage you to submit your order online via our secure payment portal or over the phone by calling 800-248-1946 or 414-272-8575. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience.
| Cart Total:
Learn About Quality

What is the Kano Model?

Quality Glossary Definition: Kano model

It's commonly believed that customers don’t really know what they want; they have to be told.

The truth is customers do know what they want, but they may not be proficient at describing their needs. By understanding the three types of customer needs and how to reveal them, you’ll better know your customers' true needs and how to address them.

The Kano model is useful in gaining a thorough understanding of a customer’s needs. You can translate and transform the resulting verbatims using the voice of the customer table that, subsequently, becomes an excellent input as the whats in a quality function deployment (QFD) House of Quality.

The model involves two dimensions:

  • Achievement (the horizontal axis), which goes from the supplier didn’t do it at all to the supplier did it very well.
  • Satisfaction (the vertical axis), which goes from total dissatisfaction with the product or service to total satisfaction with the product or service.

Dr. Noriaki Kano isolated and identified three levels of customer expectations: that is, what it takes to positively impact customer satisfaction. The figure below portrays the three levels of need: expected, normal, and exciting.

Expected Needs

Fully satisfying the customer at this level simply gets a supplier into the market. The entry level expectations are the must level qualities, properties, or attributes.

These expectations are also known as the dissatisfiers because by themselves they cannot fully satisfy a customer. However, failure to provide these basic expectations will cause dissatisfaction.

Examples include attributes relative to safety, latest generation automotive components such as a self-starter, and the use of all new parts if a product is offered for sale as previously unused or new. The musts include customer assumptions, expected qualities, expected functions, and other unspoken expectations.

Normal Needs

These are the qualities, attributes, and characteristics that keep a supplier in the market. These next higher level expectations are known as the wants or the satisfiers because they are the ones that customers will specify as though from a list. They can either satisfy or dissatisfy the customer depending on their presence or absence.

The wants include voice of the customer requirements and other spoken expectations (see table below).

Exciting Needs

These are features and properties that make a supplier a leader in the market. The highest level of customer expectations, as described by Kano, is termed the wow level qualities, properties, or attributes.

These expectations are also known as the delighters or exciters because they go well beyond anything the customer might imagine and ask for. Their absence does nothing to hurt a possible sale, but their presence improves the likelihood of purchase.

Wows not only excite customers to make on-the-spot purchases but make them return for future purchases. These are unspoken ways of delighting the customer. Examples include heads-up display in a front windshield, forward- and rear-facing radars, and a 100,000 mile warranty.

Over time, as demonstrated by the arrow going from top left to bottom right in the Kano model, wows become wants become musts. For example, automobile self-starters and automatic transmissions.

The organization that gets ahead and stays ahead constantly pulses its customers to identify the next wows. The best wows, plenty of wants, and all the musts are what it takes to become and remain an industry leader.

Kano Model Example: Home Buyers' Needs

Kano model

Kano Model: Types of customer requirements

Level of customer need Example related to home buyers
Expected quality I assume it meets all federal, state, and local building codes.
Normal quality—spokens Three-car garage, three bedrooms, two baths …
Normal quality—unspokens I'll know it when I see it!
Exciting quality Wow – a lifetime warranty on the roof!

Adapted from Quality Essentials: A Reference Guide from A to Z, ASQ Quality Press.

Featured Advertisers