The Kano Model is a theory to describe product development and customer satisfaction over time, developed by Professor Noriaki Kano in the 1980s.
Essentially, the theory goes that your customers’ satisfaction with a product attribute can depend on the level of functionality, but over time that delight decays. Each of the features will fall into one of three categories; Attractive, Performant, Must-Haves. As competitors adopt your novel way of doing things and customers come to expect it, see hedonic treadmill, the more investment into functionality, the less the customer delight it will elicit. Attractive becomes performant, and performant eventually becomes the minimum bar.
For example: taking off and landing a plane safely was new and attractive in the Wright Brothers’ days, but in modern times you won’t buy a plane ticket cause the airline is advertising they land most of their flights, well maybe the 747 Max changed that slightly.
How does the Kano Model work with Lost and Found?
Quick Tangent: Des Traynor on Product, a bit about the Kano Model
It’s a great talk. He eventually gets to the Kano Model, but all the other bits are excellent. Everyone should check it out along with all his other talks–Des Traynor website.
Attractive features are unexpected and delightful attributes—new ways of thinking, doing, approaching a struggle the customers have but might not see coming. Investment in functionality of Attractive features creates buzz and returns outsized satisfaction: a la surprise and delight, from your customer base. It probably didn’t drive the initial decision-making for purchase but could set the standard for all future decisions.
If you’re in a competitive market, these are the features that are copied straight away. So be prepared to keep innovating instead of surviving on one cool thing.
IRL: car door auto-unlocks when you reach to open it. When it works well = magic! I never thought I had a problem dealing with keys until I didn’t need them anymore.
Lost and Found: SMS telling the customer their item has been found. Unprompted and unexpected, the customers are often astonished that you found them and delighted to get their stuff back without the anxiety of figuring it out themselves.
Performance features are the real guts of your product that get the job done. These are features your customers expect, and investment yields positive satisfaction.
IRL: miles per gallon, or range for all the electric vehicles. As that feature increases, customer satisfaction also increases–typically at a 1 to 1 rate. Of course, Tesla is pushing this to Must-Have territory with anything less than 200 miles seems amateur.
Lost and Found: transparency. When your customer loses an item, the less information they need to guess, and the more clearly outlined the expectations, the lower the anxiety. Return or not investment in a transparent and perceived as “fair” process the far more satisfied your customer will be with the experience.
Must Haves are your table stakes. These are the features customers require for your product even to participate.
Table Stakes–a saying, which until today years old, I thought was steak like the substance of your meal and not stake, which is the minimum bet required to participate in a poker hand. Why are there so many poker references? It’s not a very fun game.
IRL: for a car, this would be the wheels, an engine, seats, and all the minimum stuff to consider a vehicle; you get the picture.
Lost and Found: for lost and found, recording what is lost and what gets found, pretty simplistic, but that’s the minimum to play in this game.
Bonus 4th Kano Model Category- Indifferent
Indifferent is often left off the model, like when we did at the beginning of the article. But it’s an important one for any product team (everyone is a product team) since Indifferent features are the ones you end up spinning your wheels on with no discernible impact.
IRL: sticking with the car example, undercoat. WTF? It might not even be indifferent but causes fury. It is a feature that doesn’t enhance or enable the product in a real way.
Lost and Found: algorithmic matching, we covered this in detail in a different article, but quick summary–it’s just silly.