Successfully apply Kano model in customer service

Why should you learn about the Kano model?

Approaches to improving customer service are many, but clear steps and recommendations for action are often missing. The Kano model offers good assistance and it is easy to deduce concrete implementation possibilities. So if customer service or product development is a priority for you, it’s important to look at the model.

What is the Kano model?

Noriaki Kano, a quality management scientist from Tokyo, developed the Kano model in the 1970s. The model explains how customer satisfaction is created and which product characteristics generate true enthusiasm for the customer. It can be wonderfully applied to services, customer service and usability considerations. The Kano model allows you to look at an offer even better from a customer’s point of view and supports you in the development of new products or services. It can be useful help for start-ups as well as for large companies. The Kano model consists of three dimensions: basic requirements, performance requirements, and enthusiasm requirements.

Basic requirements

Basic requirements are a “must” for any product or service. These criteria must be met, but they do not yet define an offer and do not set it off from the competition. Only the dissatisfaction of the customer is avoided by fulfilling basic characteristics. Basic requirements are taken for granted by the customer, so fulfilling them does not yet lead to satisfaction. However, these requirements must be met, otherwise it will lead to sometimes great dissatisfaction with the customer. Basic features can be requested and expressed directly by the customer and can therefore be described, but they also include implied requirements that cannot be put into words by the customer. It is therefore essential that you fulfil these obvious functions. If this is the case, it is worth taking care of the performance and enthusiasm requirements in order to really ensure customer satisfaction. Examples of basic requirements include tight packaging for liquids, fast loading of websites, or the presence of customer service. These functions are a prerequisite for the customer, but if they are present, this does not lead to satisfaction as they are taken for granted. However, failure to comply, such as leaking packaging, a website that does not load, or a non-existent customer service, quickly leads to great dissatisfaction.


The customer is aware of performance requirements. The customer has specific requirements for product characteristics and specific ideas, which features should be met and to what extent. If fulfilled, you can make the customer happy here and collect plus points and thus stand out from the competition, which may not meet these characteristics. The customer’s choice of their own offer can also be decided by covering these features. Performance requirements can be met to varying degrees, enabling direct comparison of bids between providers. Meeting these requirements leads to a linear increase in satisfaction, but non-existent satisfaction leads to a linear increase in dissatisfaction. Examples of performance requirements would be the availability of a car’s customer service or gasoline consumption. Here you can compare directly between suppliers, when customer service is available, through which channels and whether it costs anything to contact or how much liter of gasoline is consumed per 100 kilometers. The more performance requirements are met, the better. If, in addition to 24 hours of availability, customer service also offers contact by mail, chat and telephone and responds relatively quickly, the customer addresses. While one car offers low fuel consumption, another has much more storage space, better interior design, LED headlights and various other features, the choice is more likely to fall on the product with more fulfilled performance features. Performance characteristics thus distinguish them from competing products. They are consciously perceived and can be packed into words by the customer. This means that you can query these requirements in concrete terms and thus incorporate them into the development or optimization process of quotations. However, it should be noted that even if the performance characteristics are met at a high level, the basic requirements must be absolutely covered in order to satisfy the customer.

Enthusiasm requirements

The enthusiasm requirements make the real difference in product comparison and lead, as the name suggests, to a true enthusiasm of the customer. They surprise the customer as they don’t necessarily expect these features and provide a wow effect. They provide special benefits and thus create a great advantage over the competition. Even supposedly small changes can make the difference here. Characteristics that lead to enthusiasm are seen as innovative and special, since the customer did not know about this possibility beforehand. They make an offer into a brand to which the customer feels connected and with which he likes to identify and lead to a very special customer experience. The customer is happy to recommend the brand or the product and can also bind to the brand in the long term. Enthusiasm requirements are your competitive advantage! However, they are not so easy to develop and discover, as they are mostly new and unknown. However, it is worth investing here!

Furthermore, there are still minor characteristics and rejection characteristics. Insignificant features are “nice to haves”, their presence does not lead to satisfaction, nor does their absence lead to dissatisfaction. These are usually small things without concern for the customer, such as an existing cigarette lighter for non-smokers. From a vendor’s point of view, however, it is important to know insignificant characteristics, because costs can be saved so often. Rejection characteristics are features that cause dissatisfaction in presence, but do not satisfy when omitted. They are therefore the reversal of basic requirements. This is why rejection characteristics are difficult to query, as they are not always conscious of the customer and can sometimes not be put into words. An example would be disturbing pop-ups in a webshop.

Application and implementation in customer service

First, take a thorough look at the current state of your customer service and divide characteristics into the different requirements categories. What are the characteristics and behaviors that characterize your service? What is the difference to the competition? Where are you even unique? What features do your customers attract to compare providers? Performance features can be requested during market investigations and support you in answering these questions and in the classification. The customer can explicitly specify these performance requirements.

Next, you’ll see if all the basic requirements are met. If this is the case, it is worth addressing the performance requirements. Are there any features and services that can be integrated? Should you omit a negligible or even a rejection feature for this? If you and your customers are satisfied with the coverage of the features, it is worth thinking about a unique selling point or a special innovation in your customer service that will inspire enthusiasm and brand loyalty for your customers.


The Kano model helps to decide in which area of your customer service further investments are useful and where to start first. The habituation effect must also be taken into account. Where a live chat to contact customer service may have led to customer enthusiasm at the beginning, it is now almost a standard and no longer leads to a special perception and demarcation from the competition. In all respects of your services, please note: No dissatisfaction does not automatically mean satisfaction! You can now deduce how they generate satisfaction or even genuine enthusiasm among your customers from the Kano model.

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