Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quality Control - Part 2: The Kano Technique

In my last post, I  talked about quality control as it relates to training, education and performance support products and services. I started by defining what quality means and distinguished quality from grade. If you recall, quality refers to a product or service's ability to meet customer requirements, whether explicit or implicit.

 No matter what product or service we're talking about, there are basically three different types of requirements a customer has that must be met to some degree: grade, cost, and speed.

Grade, which I discussed in part 1, describes the overall performance of the product or service, as compared with other products or services that are similar in function.

Cost describes the amount of money a customer is willing to pay for your product or service.

Speed describes the amount of time a customer is willing to wait to get your product or service. 

Generally speaking, customers want the highest grade of product or service, for the least amount of money, in the shortest amount of time. Seldom is the case, however that a customer can get all three. Instead, a balance must be established to determine which of the three types of requirements are most important (ones you cannot live without) and those that are not as important (ones you CAN live without)

One way of determining a customer's requirements priorities is to use the Kano technique, which is the focus of today's blog post. The Kano Technique, created by Noriaki Kano, uses customer surveys to gather and prioritize customer needs. The Kano Technique divides requirements into "Must-haves, Performance  Attributes, and Satisfiers."  Must-haves are considered those things that must be present. They do not make the customer happy if they're there because they're expected.  But if Must-haves are absent they do cause dissatisfaction. Performance Attributes satisfy customers depending on how well they perform. If these perform well, they satisfy customers. If these perform poorly, they dissatisfy customers. Finally, Satisfiers are those items that are considered "bonuses." if present, they satisfy customers. If not present, they do not dissatisfy customers. So, the idea is to identify Must-haves, to reduce dissatisfaction, while maximizing the right Performance Attributes, and opportunities to include Satisfiers.

The Kano Technique accomplishes this through the use of a Likert Scale survey. For each attribute, the survey asks two questions: how would you feel if this were present? And, how would you feel if this were not present? As you begin to plot data along an XY axis, you begin to get a picture of what your customers consider Must-haves, Performance Attributes, and Satisfiers. With this information, you can identify those things your product or service must provide, and work within your constraints to improve the other two types of requirements.

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