I spend a lot of time in coffee shops. I enjoy a good cup of coffee, fresh baking, ambiance, meeting people, and the opportunity to be somewhere different while trying to work. Many coffee shops meet my needs, but I don't particularly have one that I always go to, I am indifferent to their differences. That was until recently. I found a new coffee shop; on the surface it seems to check all the same boxes as the others, but this one has me wanting to go back specifically to it, again and again.
I decided to use the Kano model to work out what was going on; the Kano model (developed in the 1980s by Noriaki Kano) looks at the ways in which customers are satisfied - or not - with a product or service. Whatever your product or service, you can apply the model to differentiate yourself from the competition by meeting or even surpassing the expectations of your customers - but you do need to look at the experience of being a customer from a customer's perspective.
The Kano model considers customer satisfaction under 5 sets of attributes:
Threshold Attributes: These are the basic and fundamental attributes that must be met; if you don't have these, then don't even bother. I expect a coffee shop to be clean and comfortable, with friendly service, and of course a good cup of coffee. So, yes, my new haunt had all of those.
Performance Attributes: But I am looking for more that those threshold attributes. I vary in the type or style of coffee that I want - americano in the morning or a cappuccino in the afternoon, I often like a pastry - and a choice would be great. Wi-Fi is very useful. Many different coffee shops offer all of these (mine did), and most of their competitive efforts go into creating variations of these for different price points. And this is where most companies - regardless of product or service - compete causing clients to weigh options based on availability of features and price. Many customers are indifferent to one company over another for many of these features.
Excitement Attributes: To truly shine and differentiate, a product should include an exciting or innovative feature. These will often have an emotional or felt effect. And this is where my new coffee shop had obviously got something right - I could feel it, and so could all the other customers. Maybe the barista who made you feel that she was making a special cup of coffee just for you, or the wide range of fresh baking that you could see and smell being made in the kitchen at the back, every table and chair set was different creating a visual feast and the option for a different seating experience every time you go in, the display stand of items for sale in the centre was interesting, imaginative, unusual and seemingly curated and arranged with care. We could just lump these together under the heading of 'level' of service – but they took common attributes and turned them into a great experience - probably at no or little additional cost - but a cost that reaped reward from the amount of keen customers and rapidly spreading word and the resulting growing brand. The Kano model also cautions about 2 other factors:
Reverse Attributes: These are attributes that inadvertently work against all the other good work you could be doing and result in decreased customer satisfaction. In a coffee shop, it could be loud or intrusive background music that annoys customers, or feeling you are in the way wherever you sit as people try to move around you. Avoiding these "reverse" attributes is essential to maintaining a positive experience for customers.
Indifference: This is better considered as an 'indifference level'. These factors don't significantly impact customer satisfaction, but they can influence purchasing decisions. They may work cumulatively, and often comprise performance attributes; and once there is a critical mass, then you start to feel more positive about the product or service. It could include price, décor, type of music played, loyalty programs, specialty ingredients, community support etc.
Overcoming indifference can be resource intensive; however, adding in an Excitement Attribute can make a huge difference for relatively little effort.
Excelling in whatever industry you are in often involves finding some way to truly and genuinely differentiate yourself from the competition. The Kano model can help reimagine how to optimise satisfaction for your customers.
What will you do to add some excitement to what you do for your customers ;-) ?