Whenever a new website, app or digital product launches, it’s expected that the development team did research, defined the requirements and mapped out user needs. However, many product managers don’t fully understand which of their features narrowly meet their customers’ expectations versus those that truly differentiate them from the competition.
Noriaki Kano, a professor in quality management, developed a model in the 1980s to help distinguish and rank essential attributes related to customer satisfaction. He believed that products with particular attributes could correlate to a user’s happiness. While there have been several interpretations of the methodology, here are three key pillars to gauge your own applications’ features and functionality:
Basic Features. These are absolute must-haves — users depend on them. Usability expert Jared Spool likened this to having hot water available in a hotel room. It’s something a user expects to exist, and basic features often take great effort to build and maintain. Linear Features. Users expect these, too — think heating or air conditioning in a hotel room. Where you can help differentiate your product or service here is by providing more quality, as this typically translates to greater end-user satisfaction. Delightful Features. These are attributes that customers would love, but don’t necessarily expect from you. If that same hotel room came with complimentary Uber service, most people would be delighted. These types of features do not necessarily have to be complex or significant time investments — small moments of delight can have large impacts on customer satisfaction.
Use the Kano model to help prioritize features you should invest in, which will help create your digital road map and align your team on where to focus next. While this can help guide your digital product evolution, make sure to continually assess your customers and the market, as one day what was once a delightful surprise, will ultimately become a required expectation.