PMI Bangalore Chapter


PM Essence
How to Delight your Customers
                                                                                                                               – Palash Gupta

Myth of Customer Delight 

Customer is King and we exist because of Customers! This statement is 100% True but it is always Mysterious & Challenging to formulate an offering which generates Customer Delight. Simplistically one can suggest to prioritize customer requirements based on their importance and then deliver them accordingly but this may not delight our Customers.


Contrary to that – One customer requirement could be far more important than another requirement, but if both executed very well, the less important requirement might increase satisfaction far more than the more important requirement.


Do we agree? Let’s discuss further to illustrate this idea through Kano model.



What is Kano Model?

Kano model separates product or service features into three categories:


a) Essential/Threshold/Must-have – Features that product must have in order to meet customer demands, in absence of which, the product is simply incomplete. A steering wheel in a car or ability to send text messages in mobile; without these your business will struggle to be successful in its market segment but making these features work better and better will not increase customer satisfaction beyond a point. Interestingly for the same reason they are also called as Dissatisfiers.


b) Linear/Performance – Features that make a product competitive where “More is better”. Customers are able to articulate these requirements and they are at the top of their minds when making choices and evaluating options. Fuel efficiency of the vehicle or the battery life on a cell phone; they, often require a trade-off analysis against cost of achieving it and “How much extra customer will be willing to pay for this?”


c) Delighters/Exciters – Bright stars! Features which results in great customer satisfaction, enable us to beat the competition and empower to add a price premium. Absence of them doesn’t impact customer satisfaction negatively. Features which customers were not expecting or perhaps didn’t even know existed. Additionally these features can also categorized as Indifferent or Reverse


Integrating our thoughts –

• Almost all must-haves are needed to achieve even an “indifferent” level of satisfaction


• High quantity of linear features is needed to achieve a high level of satisfaction


• Even an incompletely realized delighter can achieve high levels of customer satisfaction


Migration from Delight to Expectation

“What’s exciting today will be asked for tomorrow and expected the next day.” Some examples of this phenomenon – Free Shipping of goods, wireless internet in a hotel, cameras in cell phones, and remote controls for your TV. Features migrate from delightful to basic expectations as user will start expecting them.


Practical approach – Assessing Features using Kano Model

Now the million dollars question is – How do we know if something is a Must-have, a Linear feature or a Delighter? Let’s ask two almost identical but apposite questions about each feature:


How would they feel if the features were present?




How would they feel if the features were absent?


Each question (both “present” and “absent”) to be answered with one of the following:


• I like it that way

• I expect it to be that way
• I am neutral
• I can live with it that way
• I dislike it that way


Combination of two questions makes this a powerful technique.


For example, let’s ask “How the customer would feel if we make the mobile touch response time less than half second”. Suppose he feels this is must (two in positive question) and he dislikes it if it can’t be met (five in negative question), this requirement will fall into “Must-be” requirement. A negative question in Kano questionnaire serves as consistency check.


Something that has little upside, but a lot of downside is a must-have while something with a lot of upside and no downside is a delighter. Rest all fall in between.


Here is the full breakdown of possible answers and how they map to the three categories:


Important Note –

There are several shades of grey between mentioned categories with very few absolutes. What one describes as an Delighter Quality will be described as a Performance Quality by other and maybe Basic by a third one. The masses don’t always think alike. These differences are due to customer segmentation. We should look for tendencies and dominant responses to draw conclusions. 

Summary and conclusion 

Taking it forward, we can suggest that – Satisfying


• Basic needs: Allows a product to get into the market

• Performance needs: Allows a product to remain in the market

• Excitement needs: Allows a product to excel; To be world class


This confirms our initial Presumption –


“Though requirements falling into the Basic & Performance categories will be more important if implemented equally well it is less important Exciters which will bring higher customer satisfaction”. This is analogous with the principle of Marginal utility in economics, which justifies — “Why, In spite of limited utility, Diamond is costlier than Water”.


As Project/Product Manager, We must couple the importance of a particular need with the Kano category it falls into, to help prioritize our improvement efforts and determine our future development goals. The whole idea is to develop value proposition and associate it with our product strategy.