When you gather Voice of the Customer (VOC) information about your buyers’ experiences, how should you distinguish the important from the less important? The Kano Model helps you to make these distinctions so that you can learn which characteristics are hurting you and which ones can differentiate you from the competition. You can use the Kano Model to learn how customers perceive your value at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
The Kano Model divides the customer experience into three categories: characteristics that must be part of the buyer experience, characteristics that buyers expect and the more you give them the better, and finally those characteristics that delight customers in ways they didn’t expect.
My recent experiences with Airbnb make for a good example of how you can use the Kano model to categorize customer value. These experiences are based on a recent family trip to Italy where we stayed at four Airbnb apartments in four different cities.
The Kano Model’s middle category includes all the performance features that enhance the customer experience. At Airbnb these include a range of encounters from the quality of the interaction with the host during the registration phase to the condition of the apartment when you stay there. Conditions could include anything from the strength of the wifi signal to how fully equipped the kitchen is. The more of these elements the host provides, the better.
The basic features that must be be present to fulfill essential customer expectations go into the lower category. The first apartment where we stayed provides a good example of failure to meet basic needs. Despite the charm of the location and attraction of life in a real Roman apartment, a broken water heater marred the experience. The apartment simply failed to meet essential criteria and consequently everything else about the apartment was viewed more critically.
It’s in the upper category that an Airbnb host has the opportunity to shine and differentiate from the others. Vittoria in Florence delighted us in many ways. She met us in the street and welcomed us cheerfully, she had fruit in the refrigerator and recommendations for restaurants. What’s more, each morning she sent an email asking about our stay and did we need anything. This created a welcoming feeling for our whole family and more important, made it easy for her to quickly fix any minor problems that might arise each day.
Now when we tell our friends about our trip, the apartment in Rome gets the dramatic story about the host’s failures and Vittoria in Florence receives gushing praise for her attention and positive interactions.
B2B companies can find many opportunities to differentiate themselves when they gather and analyze VOC information using the categories of the Kano model. The Airbnb example illustrates that customers show preferences at every stage of their experience. It began when we started researching places to stay in each city and continued right through the visit itself and the return of our security deposit. For B2B buyers the journey begins with research and continues through product evaluation, purchase, and implementation.
Image Credit: Product Plan