Recently I came across the Kano model (bought to my attention by a User Experience colleague). It's a model developed in the 1980s by Japanese professor Noriaka Kano to measure the product development and customer satisfaction. At the moment I'm carrying out some research with the objective of enhancing our Recruiter Services and I thought it might be useful as an evaluation system for my research. The customer experience of a product is seen to have three attributes:

Basic attributes are what your customers just expect, features they take for granted. e.g. a search on a jobboard that returns job results

Performance attributes are features where there is a connection between achieving something and the satisfaction you get from this. e.g. Providing a search that provides quick, relevant and easy to scan results.

Delight attributes are the unexpected. This is when you please your customers by over-delivering or doing something unexpected. e.g. Providing visual job location information.

What's interesting is how these can change over time. What starts out delighting can become what is expected. What delights a jobseeker today will soon degrade into a performing attribute and eventually maybe just become a basic expectation. For example, useful features like Jobs by Email and other personalisation features were once upon a time pleasers, now jobseekers will naturally expect to find these on any jobboard they visit.

That's a basic explanation of the Kano model but how can it help when researching to improve your product? Well I think it's a great way of sanity checking and getting recommendation priorities right, especially by constantly monitoring your user's basic expectations. There's no point adding bells and whistles to delight or even improving performance if the basics aren't there. Brings to mind those well worn phrases 'lipstick on a pig' or 'polishing a turd'. It is definitely guiding my approach to improving our recruiter services. I think it will help when presenting research results, especially in explaining how decisions and prioritisation has been made. These are the principles that I take forward from it:

  • Get the basics right first, making sure your product meets expectation squarely
  • Make sure you invest in performance for the right people, i.e your target audience
  • Only when the basics and performance attributes are right should you look at those little extras that delight and excite
  • Providing delight requires a very good understanding of your customers through research
  • Continuous re-invention and assessment is necessary as customer expectation constantly changes and increases

Other articles you may like...