Monday, June 23, 2008

Delighted Customers?

Our guest blogger is Carol Dickson-Carr of Managing Personal Resources, Inc. in Richardson, TX. A Six Sigma guru applying holistic thinking in order to "get things done!"

In the process improvement world of Six Sigma, the word Kano is associated with customer service—exceptional customer service—if you’re in the right quadrant!

The use of quadrants and matrices in business to gauge where you are is not uncommon. I immediately think of Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant and Stephen Pierce’s Cycle of Success I heard about at the Dallas World Internet Summit. And in both cases, there is a most desired quadrant of the four to be in.

Noritki Kano’s model is based on customer expectations, which are always changing right along with technology. There are levels of quality in a product or service that people expect implicitly (i.e., working windows & tires on a car) and explicitly (i.e., good mileage if it’s a compact car). And then there are the bells and whistles associated with unexpected or “exciting” quality. In this day and age an example might be an SUV that gets 100 MPG! The following graph shows how to capture what I just described graphically. This is also known as the Kano Model:

That was a tangible product example.

Let’s look at a recent real life service example: The Unscientific Informal Grocery Store Focus Group…

My husband went out to a local grocery store this weekend to grab a few last minute items he forgot to buy earlier for a barbecue we hosted yesterday. When you go to a grocery store you expect a certain level of service, right? This may include speedy checkout in the 10-items-or-less express lane, for example. He was in a hurry, and the lines were long everywhere and not moving. He guessed that everyone was doing their Saturday shopping at once, but the reality was that the computer servers were down and no one had made an announcement to the customers who were waiting. He eventually had to ask, and then he ultimately ended up leaving to get his items at another grocery store.

This is an example of being in the lower left quadrant of the Kano Model. You don’t want to be there!

So today, while hanging out with friends and Vietnamese food, we all sat around with our cuisine after a swim and talked about what we all believed fell under those various levels of quality in a grocery store. Here are a few of the thoughts we came up with:

Basic Quality Category: What we take for granted (implicit): a climate controlled building, working cash registers, shelves for groceries…

Expected Quality Category: Explicit expectations: Quick checkout in the express lane, fresh food, courteous staff…

Exciting Quality Category: Above and beyond: Free groceries, four-for-one specials, random cash awards of $X for the Xth customer who walks through the door…

You get the idea

But keep in mind that there is always going to be competitive pressure to stay on top of innovation. To quote Tom Pyzdek, “Today’s exciting quality is tomorrow’s basic quality.”

So what are you doing to excite and delight your customers?

Carol Dickson-Carr

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