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Customer satisfaction is one of the key concerns for product managers. In this highly competitive market, customer acquisition and retention is a major business problem. To handle this issue, product managers often use a prioritization framework called Kano Model. Kano Model is used to group product features into categories based on their perceived value by customers.

Product managers can decide which features can be included in the product roadmap and which features should be avoided. However, before using this framework, market segmentation should be done to identify the target customer segment(s).

To prioritize the correct feature mix, features can be classified into five categories. Let’s go through each category using the example of a very common product — a car.

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Exciters/Delighters

These are the features used to attract customers and get them excited about the product. These are not generally expected by customers but the presence of exciters significantly increases positive responses.

For a car, the exciters/delighters can be heated ergonomic seats, extended warranty, etc.

Performance

Performance features cover the expectations that customers have from the product. These features essentially help them decide whether they will use the product or not.

The performance features of a car include mileage, horsepower and so on.

Basic

These features MUST be included for the product to function as per minimum market standards. The absence of these features can lead to dissatisfaction.

Wheels, brake, gear and accelerator are some of the basic features of a car.

Indifferent

Customers do not care about these features and will not probably notice. So they do not have either positive or negative effects on customer satisfaction.

For instance, a customer is not bothered by the colour of electrical cables used in a car.

Reverse

The presence of these features is perceived negatively by customers.

Speed governors can be considered as a reverse feature in a car.

How to use Kano model for prioritization:

Kano Model framework is highly useful in the changing business landscape where product managers are trying their best to deliver quality products in a limited time. The first three categories of features — exciters, performance & basic — can be viewed as a funnel for customer retention.

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The above funnel can be used to prioritize the features list

There are two types of products that product managers have to most commonly deal with :

  • A new product: One which has been envisioned but is not developed yet
  • An existing product: One which is already in the market but needs to be constantly improved.

The application of the Kano model will be different in both cases.

For a new product

  • Basic features are “Must-Have” and need to be included first. These should not be missing during the product launch.
  • Then add the performance features that the majority of the customer base wants
  • Add at least one delighter to attract the customers

For an existing product, most of the basic features will already be in place. So, the product manager has to weigh among the performance features and exciters based on where the product is at its lifecycle.

It is very important to understand that the features which were delighters once may become basic over years. So it is the job of the product managers to be able to constantly analyze and choose the right mix of features to ensure that the product continues to remain relevant to the customers.

Thanks for Reading!