Nick Meiers: Using Kano Analysis to improve guest satisfaction


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If you have ever heard me speak about customer service, you know that I believe you should CASE (Copy and Steal (or save) Everything) from your competitors or from a business in another industry to find some idea that you can incorporate into your business to Deliver the World’s Best Customer Experience.

Having had a 30 year career in luxury resorts and hotels, I feel that the hospitality industry can offer strategies that can help B2C businesses improve their delivery of customer service. To that end, this guest post is written by Nick Meiers. Nick writes about leadership, team development, and service excellence in the hospitality industry at his blog, Essential Hospitality. For other customer experience CASE ideas from hospitality, be sure to follow Nick on Twitter @HospLeader.

In this post, Nick explains how the Kano Analysis method can create an exceptional guest/customer experience.

The expectations, requirements, and demands of our guests don’t all carry the same weight; they’re quite different from each other. Leaders must realize that:

  • There are some things demanded by guests that they will not go without.
  • The quality of some elements will either make or break the guest experience.
  • Guests want a lot of things they don’t even know they want.
  • Some of what you do doesn’t impact the average guest at all.

Confusing these different attributes of the guest experience can lead to:

  • Eliminating the wrong things from the guest experience.
  • Spending too much money on things that don’t matter to guests.
  • Failing to differentiate one’s operation from that of a competitor.

This is a long post, but I’m going to show you how we can sort out guest demands and prioritize appropriately. This is a process, and if you skip to the end none of it will make any sense.

Kano Analysis is a tool used to determine which attributes of a product or service are most important to guests. Knowing which are most important will allow you to prioritize improvement efforts that will result in greater guest satisfaction.

Imagine you’re looking for ways to examine what is important to guests at your resort, specifically in your casual, full-service, tropical-themed restaurant.

First, let’s look at the five attributes of customer satisfaction. You need to understand these to apply the tool.

Understanding different attributes of guest requirements


These are the basic requirements of your guests. You don’t get bonus points for having them, but you don’t have a chance without them. When was the last time a guest at your restaurant said, “Finally, a restaurant with chairs!” Of course you have chairs. Adding more tables to the restaurant wouldn’t make the experience any better if the kitchen can’t support them. Getting tables made out of the world’s most expensive wood wouldn’t provide an appreciable increase in guest satisfaction. Some things, you just need to have.

Other Must-Be (without these at a restaurant, you’re dead): Food, waitstaff, utensils, plates


The more satisfiers you have, the better. Customers generally demand satisfiers—they’ll eat a restaurant with more satisfiers. If your food is good that’s great…if it’s reasonably priced that’s even better. If your waitress is friendly that’s great…if she knows the menu and makes good recommendation and tells some jokes that make your family laugh, all the better. But, it goes both ways. If your food is bland and expensive, and the waitress is boring then your guests will be less satisfied.

Other Satisfiers (make sure you’re doing a good job on these things): wait time, ambiance, comfort, pace of meal, accuracy in preparation, food temperature, proper use of music


These are the unexpected surprises that meet your guests’ unspoken desires and make their experience great. Imagine you put little umbrellas in the drinks or deliver a birthday cupcake upon overhearing that the family is celebrating Dad’s birthday. The family didn’t ask for a celebratory cupcake—but they did (indirectly) ask for a good time—and you surpassed their expectation. Note that the absence of exciters doesn’t decrease guest satisfaction, since they weren’t expecting anything anyway.

Other Exciters (sprinkle these in and satisfaction improves): anything unexpected that meets a guest’s unspoken desires


The indifferent elements are those that don’t directly influence your guest’s satisfaction or their decision to do business with you. For example, your guests don’t care about the brand of quarry tile in the kitchen; it doesn’t impact their experience in the slightest. Frankly, they wouldn’t care if you were cooking on a gravel floor.


These are the extra processes that your guests don’t like. Obviously, you want to keep these to a minimum.

(And remember— Exciters evolve into Satisfiers and Satisfiers evolve into Dissatsfiers. Paying by credit card was once an Exciter—a novelty. It became a Satisfier and is now a Must-Be, especially for the younger generation, as you know if your restaurant doesn’t accept credit cards.)

Now that you understand these different attributes, let’s consider how we would design a customer service survey to determine into which categories guests would place certain aspects of their experience. You may think you know what your guests think, but you want to be sure.

(Note: The Kano Analysis process is complex and out of the scope of this blog; we’re going to look at this on a basic, practical level.)

What do MY guests think are Must-Bes, Satisfiers, and Delighters?

Good question! You might not know if something is a Must-Be, Satisfier, or Delighter. This is where surveys come in handy.

Imagine your jungle-themed restaurant has jungle-themed live music every night. You’re wondering if this is worthwhile. When designing your survey, you’ll ask the question in the functional (positive) form and the dysfunctional (negative) form:

1.) How do you feel when live musicians are performing during dinner at our restaurant?

a) I like it.

b) I expect it.

c) I don’t care.

d) I don’t like it.

1.) How do you feel when live musicians are not performing during dinner at our restaurant?

e) I like it.

f) I expect it.

g) I don’t care.

h) I don’t like it.

You’ll use this chart to see what your guests’ answers mean. I’ll tell you how to read it below.

Negative Question
How do you feel when live musicians are not performing during dinner at our restaurant?

Positive Question
How do you feel when live musicians are performing during dinner at our restaurant?

Like it

Expect it

Don’t care

Dislike it

Like it





Expect it





Don’t care





Dislike it





What can we learn using this table? Let’s suppose that guests responded that they expect to have live music and they dislike it when it’s not there. What would you call this? (Look at the chart). It’s a Must-Be. What if guests responded that they like it when the musicians are performing, but they don’t care when there is not live music. This points to an Exciter. In a large-scale survey, you’d setup a table like this and see where most of the results fell. You can even separate the data by age, sex, or other demographics. Certainly, everybody doesn’t see things the same way.

What do I do with these categories?

Great, you understand your guests’ preferences. What’s next? You might start by making a chart that divides elements of the guest experience into their categories. For example:


Requirement Type



Live music on evenings


Great waitstaff


Clean dining room


Of course, the list would continue…

Now it’s time to design a Voice of the Customer survey that will show how you’ve been doing on these things. Questions would be in the format:

How was the cleanliness of the dining room?

a.) Very Good

b.) Good

c.) Neutral

d.) Poor

e.) Very Pool

If the data were to show that guests are not happy with your dining room’s cleanliness and you know cleanliness is a Must-Be, you’ve identified an area where you might be losing market share. Improving this won’t dramatically grow your business, but it’ll keep you from losing ground. If your waitstaff aren’t friendly, you will know that investing more resources in training your staff will result in increased guest satisfaction, since this is a Satisfier.

That’s a start. I hope you now have a better understanding of this powerful tool, or at least a new way to see what your guests are really thinking.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Quiseng
Bill Quiseng is an award-winning hospitality leader and recognized customer service expert. He speaks and writes on customer experience, employee engagement, and leadership. Bill has over thirty years of luxury resort/club management experience. Bill served as general manager of The Inn at Bay Harbor - A Renaissance Golf Resort, MI. Under his administration, The Inn at Bay Harbor was recognized as one of the World's Best Hotels by Travel+Leisure Magazine.


  1. Im interested to use kano analysis in our organization to improve guest satisfaction.


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