Home > Voice of the Customer > Voice of the Customer (VOC) that’s Meaningful and Actionable – Remember the Kano Model …

Voice of the Customer (VOC) that’s Meaningful and Actionable – Remember the Kano Model …

September 15th, 2011

Voice of the CustomerCapturing Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a critical first step in aligning your product or service delivery organization to the real needs, wants, and desires of your customer. Pretty common sense, right? But, when someone says “I’ve captured the voice of the customer”, what does that really mean?

Any interaction with the customer is an opportunity to capture VOC, but I would argue that a more proactive and structured approach may yield more useful and actionable information from the customer. Understand what’s important, from the customer’s perspective, clearly define it and make it measurable, then measure your performance. Sounds simple, right?


Download a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements

a short module on understanding customer requirements and the Kano Model


Well, not so fast. The relationship between how you perform and what the customer sees as real value is not always simple or direct. Many times, organizations are left utterly bewildered after making some “major” performance improvement only to find that the customer never even noticed! I’ve even seen a case where a business process outsourcer assumed an agreed upon SLA was their VOC, met every single measure in that “VOC”, and then lost the customer! How could this happen? Well, the customer expected them to optimize and improve the process for them, not just run it at current performance levels and meet the SLA. Their ideas of “Value” were very different.

Voice of the Customer - Kano ModelOne good way to look at customer requirements is through the lens of the “Kano Model”. Dr. Kano developed a model of the relationship between service or product delivery performance on the one hand, and value as perceived by the customer on the other. It is very simple and can be extremely useful in understanding the relationship between what you do and how that relates to what the customer perceives as value. The model defines 3 categories of customer requirements: basic, performance, and excitement.

Basic. These are the requirements that are just taken for granted. Customers will rarely mention them, because they are just expected. In the airline industry, getting to your destination in one piece is an example of a basic requirement. No matter how well you deliver on basic requirements, your customer will never be more than neutral in terms of satisfaction or perceived value. But fail to deliver one of these requirements and you can bet you’ll have a very dissatisfied customer, one that is likely to be out the door.

Bottom Line: Basic requirements are really only noticed when they aren’t met …..

Performance. These are the things that customers want, but don’t necessarily expect in all cases. They are the things that usually make up a service level agreement (SLA). Performance characteristics include faster service, lower cost, higher reliability, etc. They are usually stated by the customer, in some detail, and meeting them will drive customer satisfaction to some degree, and sales. But they do not guarantee customer loyalty (e.g. earlier example of business process outsourcer that lost customer after meeting SLA).

Bottom Line: Meeting performance requirements will drive near term customer satisfaction and sales, but will not guarantee customer loyalty.

Excitement (Wow). Excitement attributes are unspoken and mostly unexpected by customers but can result in extremely high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Their absence doesn’t lead to overt dissatisfaction. Excitement attributes often satisfy latent needs – real needs of which customers are currently unaware. In an ultra-competitive marketplace where multiple vendors’ offerings provide similar levels of performance, delivering on excitement attributes that address “unknown needs” can provide a competitive advantage.

Bottom Line: Delivering on Excitement attributes drives customer satisfaction, new sales, and and customer loyalty. It enables the charging of a premium for goods and services.

One final thing to keep in mind is that this is a moving target. Today’s wow factors will soon become just basic requirements. Think about what was a “wow” factor on a mobile phone just a few years ago, and where things are today. Don’t sit still. Getting VOC is never a one-and-done.

Feel free to contact me directly to discuss how you might improve your efforts to capture voice of the customer (VOC).

  1. No comments yet.
Comments are closed.