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The Kano Analysis And Customer Needs

Aug 7, 2008
The Kano Theory

So how do organizations analyze the customer needs? How do they understand what the basic needs are and what will mean more than just satisfaction? To address and understand this situation, a technique has been developed by Professor Noriaki Kano and his colleagues of Tokyo Rika University. This is the Kano theory, which explains that for some customer requirements, customer satisfaction is proportional to the fully functional product or service.

It focuses on three types of requirements satisfaction; basic needs, which help the company to get into the market, performance needs, which help the company to sustain themselves in the market and excitement needs, which allow a company to excel.

Let us take a scenario of planning a dinner at a restaurant. Your minimum expectation is that the food is tasty and served properly. At the end of the dinner, if your food has been up to your expectations, you are satisfied. You may or may not return to the same place.

However, in another scenario, the overall ambience of the restaurant is great and the food was extremely delicious and served with a lot of care and attention. To top it all off, if a tasty dessert is served and the manager meets with you personally to find out how you felt about the food, this would mean more than just satisfaction - it would make you delighted. This overall experience would surely make you visit the restaurant at least once more.

Breaking it Down

This model can be broken down into a (x, y) graph. The X-axis represents the level in achieving customer outcomes or CTQ's. The y-axis represents the customer's level of satisfaction as a result of level of achievement. The lower curve represents the basic needs or features that are expected - and the lack of them would lead to customer dissatisfaction or even loss of business.

The upper curve of the model represents the unspoken needs of the customer. When they are satisfied, then it means that you have been able to achieve attributes that delight and excite your customers. This provides a competitive edge for your products and business as a whole.

Six Sigma Teams and Kano

Six Sigma teams use the model to make changes to existing products and services and to develop new ones. They analyze the effectiveness of the products in comparison to the customer satisfaction levels. Simulation tools are used to investigate the likely effects of change on the satisfaction levels.

If a new product is being developed, the simulation tools can be used to indicate the effect of the suggested features with the help of the Kano graph model.

Customer needs differ from one category of customer to another. After a period of time those needs that bring delight may become a necessity for some.

Six Sigma teams can use the Kano model effectively to analyze the effects on customers. However, it cannot be used for suggesting new product features. It also cannot be ignored, as the advantages far outweigh the limitations.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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