Customer Experience

Kano Over Coffee: Creating a Delightful Customer Experience

The Kano Model is a tool that can demystify customer needs and put you back in control of the customer experience.

by Chrissy Keeton

Understanding customer needs can seem overwhelming in a world of increasing customization and there’s-an-app-for-that mentality. When customers raise the bar on expectations, rigorous prioritization of customer needs is more important than ever. The Kano Model, developed by Dr. Noriaki Kano, is a simple tool that can demystify the most demanding customers and put you back in the control of the customer experience.

The Kano Model is made up of three key buckets of customer needs. This model can best be understood over a cup of coffee or rather by dissecting your trip to the local coffee shop.


These are attributes of a product or service that a customer views as mandatory. These attributes typically aren’t levers for improving customer satisfaction, but if absent or not done well, present risk of customer dissatisfaction.

We all have basic expectations for a trip to the local coffee shop. If you’re like me you expect to get hot coffee served in a to-go cup with a sturdy top and heat guard. You expect to see a stand with cream and sugar and something to stir your coffee with. The environment must be clean, have comfortable places to sit, and include free wifi.

Must-have attributes are table stakes, and are definitely not the place to skimp.


These are the criteria a customer predominately uses to judge their satisfaction with a product or service. Typically, “more is better” for these attributes.

When it comes to coffee, the fresher the better. My local coffee shop roasts its own coffee beans, so I can get a cup of coffee within days of roasting resulting in a cleaner taste. I buy frequently, so I also consider cost. The trick with performance attributes is they are often interdependent, so while I would like to find fresh coffee for a low cost, I realize I may need to pay a premium for freshness.

A well-crafted survey or focus group with target customers is a great way to uncover the right balance between these “more is better” attributes. Understanding your market segment is critical to nailing your performance targets.


These are things that customers are not expecting, and the presence of these attributes can lead to a “wow” moment for the customer and improve customer loyalty.

The typical coffee run entails parking the car, standing in line to order, and waiting with the other caffeine addicted customers to retrieve your coffee of choice. Not only can this be a time consuming activity, it’s also a hassle. My local coffee shop recently took a tip from Kano and announced a curb side delivery service. Now I can call them with an order, and by the time I get to the coffee shop they’re waiting with my coffee in hand. Delightful!

It’s the delighter “wows” that not only get your customers coming back, but also create the buzz that all businesses strive for. Customer delighters require some creative thinking, but don’t necessarily have to be costly.

Customer needs and competitive trends change frequently, so it’s important to regularly true back to the Kano model. Free wifi is a great example of something that was once a coffee shop delighter and now is a must have.

So the next time you’re enjoying a cup of joe, remember that not all customer needs are equal. Understanding and prioritizing your customer’s must-have requirements and performance priorities will go a long way towards creating a positive customer experience. Stir in some delighters and they’ll be customers for life.

Piping hot coffee: A must

Fresh roasted coffee beans: The fresher, the better

Curb side service: Delighted

Chrissy Keeton
Chrissy Keeton
Chief Customer Officer
Contact Chrissy

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