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Kano and the Art of Customer Delight

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Kano's model talks about three customer needs - basic, performance and delighters...it is easy to convert an angry customer to a delighted one.


Watches don't agree they say. Mine was just a few seconds away from 6 PM. I was taking big hurried steps towards the meeting room for an important client call. Just then my BlackBerry rang! It was an unknown number. I was in no mood to take this call but I took it anyway. The voice at the other end was not sweet enough to excite me but I continued. It introduced itself as an agent from a customer care unit of Toyota, asking whether I had gotten my car serviced anytime in the previous 3 months. "Yes" I roared, eager to end the conversation. The voice patiently asked me, whether I would be interested to be picked up and dropped at the nearest Toyota showroom the next day. "Why?", I had answered angrily. . .

It didn't take me much time to realize that I had given a 6 on 10, for bathroom cleanliness on the post servicing feedback that car companies generally obtain from customers, immediately after a car service. In fact, it was a rating my son gave after he used the rest room when we had both visited their swanky showroom in Bangalore. I had concurred with him! This had happened 2 months back. The customer care call wasn't unrelated.

Through a subsequent call that the showroom sales GM made to me, I was called over to inspect their bathroom (2 months later!) and give them my feedback. I was even picked up and dropped, and was even offered tea and snacks during this exercise! I couldn't help but give a 10 on 10 this time around. But wait! I didn't give them a 10 for their hospitality. I gave them what I gave, for the tremendous pains they had undertaken to make changes to the bathroom - the freshness and the crispness, the mirror and all the other detailing. . . . . . Of course, it might be that this change was already in the offing and coincided with my rating! Whatever it might be, I was actually rating them for their customer focus.

Kano's model talks about three customer needs - basic, performance and delighters. Having brakes on a car is associated with a basic customer need. Performance needs are those for which customers are willing to pay more for higher performance. For instance, I am ready to pay higher for a 150 PS horsepower engine, than that I am for a 80 PS engine. Last but not least, the delighters are the most powerful ones since they provide a supreme level of delight to the customer. Greeting a customer with a glass of wine as she enters the showroom is a delight!

The chairman of the famed (arguably!) Bata shoe company, it is said, had visiting cards that read "Chief Shoe Salesman". This a great symbolic representation of what a solution designer or a salesman is trying to bring to the table. Even making small notes during a discussion with a customer itself is Customer Centricity to me. I never miss it. It is simple but has a great effect, at least symbolically on what the customer thinks about you.

A genius is the capability to take immense pain . . . let us take some . . .  for a customer. . .it is easy to convert an angry customer to a delighted one . I shall be more than happy to hear your perspectives. Thanks for being my customer!!

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