What is the Kano Model?
The Kano Model is a theory developed in 1984 by Professor Noriaki Kano of the Tokyo University of Science. The Kano Model classifies customer preferences into five categories to better understand customer satisfaction with product or service features.
Unlike other prioritization frameworks, the Kano Model focuses on qualitative emotional indicators that help teams prioritize tasks according to what will have the biggest impact on customer excitement and customer loyalty.
How do you prioritize with the Kano Model?
The Kano Model includes five needs customers or users of a product or service may have. Let’s talk through all five of them so you can get a clear understanding of how the Kano Model works.
- Basic Needs: Features that, when present, do not significantly increase satisfaction but when absent, result in dissatisfaction. These are fundamental requirements or basic functionality customers expect from your product or service.
📌 Example: An online prioritization tool like Parabol should have sufficient functionality to allow a user to prioritize their work items effectively. I should also have the ability to invite team-mates to help me prioritize as a collaborative effort.
- Performance Needs: Features where satisfaction increases with their level of fidelity. The better these features are, the more satisfied customers become.
📌 Example: Building integrations for a prioritization tool. This may start with a one way integration where you can import your backlog items to prioritize them in an external tool. An example of a performance need would be introducing two-way integration, so you can synchronize your prioritization work back to your backlog tool with a click.
- Excitement Needs: Unexpected or innovative features that, when present, can greatly increase satisfaction, but their absence does not cause dissatisfaction as customers do not expect them. People often refer to excitement needs as “delightful features”.
📌 Example: An online prioritization tooI like Parabol could show confetti at the end of a prioritization session or other meeting, to add a delightful sense of achievement and make users feel good about their work.
- Indifferent Needs: Features that neither significantly contribute to satisfaction nor cause dissatisfaction. Customers are indifferent to whether these features are present or absent.
📌 Example: Adding permalinks to different meeting topics in an online meeting app so they can be shared with external stakeholders.
- Reverse Needs: Features that, when present, lead to dissatisfaction. Their absence, however, does not notably increase satisfaction.
📌 Example: Including guided onboarding walkthroughs in the product or intrusive “tool tips” that get in the way of the work a user is trying to do.
Unlike the RICE or MoSCoW prioritization frameworks that each lend themselves to matrices or quadrant-based planning, the Kano Model has five ranking criteria – meaning it doesn’t work well on a matrix.
On that basis, the best way to prioritize with the Kano Model is to tag individual backlog items with the relevant category. You can do this as an individual or collaboratively by voting for whether a particular feature is a basic need, a performance feature, delightful feature, or even an indifferent or reverse feature. Parabol’s free template and prioritization tool can guide you through that process.
When to use the Kano Model
The Kano Model is an excellent prioritization framework for product development and product roadmaps, particularly for products that have already got some initial users. Doing a Kano analysis helps teams bring in new users through delight and performance, while also helping create customer loyalty.
It is suitable both for short-term and long-term planning, and it’s even possible to use the Kano Model as an audit tool, to look back and classify what your ratio of basic features to performance features to delightful features is, for example.
How to use the Kano Model template
Here’s a short overview of how to get started running a collaborative RICE prioritization workshop in Parabol. You can run your meeting alone, or bring in any internal or external stakeholders to prioritize as a team.
- Open the Kano Model template in Parabol, preferably ahead of any meeting you have planned so you can import all the items you want to prioritize.
- Import the items you want to prioritize from Jira, GitHub, or GitLab via integration, or add them in manually as Parabol tasks.
- Invite participants to join you in ranking items. In Parabol everyone can set their own blind Kano Model votes, and then you can compare and see where you agree and disagree.
- Schedule a call if you want to process and discuss trends together
- Independently rank items on the Kano Model criteria using the in-product card deck. Simply select the appropriate card to vote for a backlog item as a basic need, performance need, excitement need, indifferent need, or a reverse need.
- Reveal the results and discuss/compare rankings with your team-mates.
- Set final Kano Model tags and optionally sync these tags automatically to your Jira, GitHub, or GitLab via Parabol’s two-way integration.
- Walk away with a fully prioritized list. End the meeting and receive an email summary with your prioritized list of items. You can not decide what to do with your basic, performance, and excitement features.