Kano Analysis

We’ve already explained the Kano Model briefly and showed you the differences in giving the customer what they expect, what can impact (or not) their perception and what can make them be highly impressed with your product/service.

Now, we’re diving a little deeper and exploring how the Kano Model can be key to help you analyse, qualify and prioritize improvement/new feature requirements for your product/services.

What is the Kano Analysis?

All projects often start with a large set of requirements, things people would like to see developed in the near future, etc. Considering we’re working with an agile management model and, instead of a project, we’re managing a product (which means it’s a cyclic process instead of a finite project), these requirements would go to a product backlog as an ordered list.

For a product to be functional, it’s not necessary to start it with a complete set of requirements – that would actually be kind of idealistic and surreal in a business perspective. Instead, what product managers do is divide those requirements into iterations and develop them in independent sprints, releasing new versions of the product as the new features/improvements are developed.

Requirements are not set in stone, they change over time so your product backlog is bound to change to – and it’s also bound to be eternally incomplete (and that’s not a bad thing, it means you’re constantly evolving). As the features are developed, the market changes, your customer’s demands change as well, more detailed information becomes available and the items on your backlog and their ranking will likely change continuously. The Kano analysis, based on the Kano Model, is one of the many techniques available out there to help you with the difficult task of ranking your backlog.

How to satisfy (and go beyond) your customer’s needs?

Everyone expects several basic features to be included in everything they buy, for example, when you buy a car, it goes without saying that it comes with an engine, four wheels, and all those standard parts you don’t know why exist – except when they give you a problem.

Often so, customer satisfaction os perceived as a linear function to implemented features – the more features the product has, the better the customer satisfaction. The Kano analysis shows you that’s not exactly how the ball rolls, it also shows you that incorporating all the specified customer requirements into the product will not necessarily imply higher customer satisfaction. Deepening the analysis according to the Kano Model, you’ll be able to interpret customer satisfaction not only as proportional to one dimensional features but rather variable according to additional attributes, such as “must have” or “excite/delight” features.

Any product/service should first and foremost meet the basic/threshold attributes – without ensuring those are covered before worrying about other “secondary” attributes, the product may not even survive in the market to begin with.

Once the basic attributes are secured, the product development can be focused on maximizing the performance attributes and including as many exciters/delighters as possible (always keeping in mind that those are sensitive to occurrence – once the customer grows used to them, they’re no longer able to delight them.

The Kano model classifies customers requirements into the following categories:

1. Basic/threshold attributes:

These are the bare-minimum features a product/service must absolutely have to meet its customer’s demands – and they’re vital for the product’s survival (these are the ones that can’t be taken lightly and/or overlooked in development).

These features alone are not enough to increase customer satisfaction, since tending to them is doing nothing more than your obligation. Not implementing them, on the other hand, will most certainly lead to customer dissatisfaction. These are the features taken for granted by the customer – the ones they don’t even think to ask for – and without them, the customer may not even be interested in your product/service to begin with.

2. Performance/linear/one-dimensional attributes:

These go by that simple proportional correlation: the more performance attributes you offer your customer, the more satisfaction you get in return. These are the features customers tend to be more interested in – and the price customers are willing to pay for what your selling will depend a lot on how many of these you’re offering them.

These features work very logically so they’ll result in customer satisfaction when fulfilled and, on the other hand, customer dissatisfaction when not fulfilled.

3. Excite/delight attributes (the wow factor):

These are the features responsible for increased customer satisfaction when implemented – when they’re not there, however, they won’t cause any dissatisfaction. These attributes are not expected, they’re the pleasant surprises that can often bring to surface your customer’s latent needs.

This is where you get the chance to show your product/service is truly differentiated from all those competitors out there. With time, however, customers tend to get used to the excite and delight features you present them, and once they get accustomed, these features will no longer be considered delights – they would, eventually, morph into basic attributes (considered expected by your customers, causing dissatisfaction if they’re not present anymore).

4. Indifferent attributes:

These are the features indifferent to the customers – they either don’t pay attention to them or they’re not aware of the existence of these features, making them of little or no consequence to the customer.

The satisfaction level, therefore, will neither decrease nor increase because of these features. (Considering the fact that adding features generates cost and takes time, these features should be minimized or avoided to the extent possible).

5. Reverse attributes:

Though these are not very common, it’s valid to mention because they may occur – reverse attributes refer to when added functionality result in customer dissatisfaction (and not having them increases customer satisfaction).

Reverse attributes cause customer dissatisfaction, and not having these attributes increases customer satisfaction. This is the case when some technological advances, such as apps, are considered too advanced for some customers, and they become overwhelmed and dissatisfied.


Manage your Product according to your Customer’s needs with Pipefy!

Pipefy’s Product Roadmap Template allows you to properly plan your product/service’s next steps according to the market’s best practices. It gives you tips on how to prioritize your features by following product management guidelines, such as the Kano Model and guides you through all the steps of the process: from defining the type of improvement to advanced measurement of impact on your goals.

Written by Isabelle Salemme, Product content manager at Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being responsible for all product-related content, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.