Chick-fil-The latest annual American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that, once again, ranks highest among restaurant chains in customer satisfaction. A score of 85 on the index places it above of all other quick-service and full-service brands on the list, making it the perennial favorite for the ninth year in a row.
However, Jimmy John’s is in second place with an index score of 84, up 6% year over year; this is the closest any other brand has come to Chick-fil-A since the chicken chain was added to the index in 2015 by a margin of two points. When compared to competing fast food chains, Chick-fil-A was four points ahead of the pack last year. In 2021, when Chick-fil-A scored 83 and Domino’s scored 80, the difference between the two was just three points. Customers have noticed a faster turnaround time for both ordering and paying at Jimmy John’s this year.
Both KFC (increased 4% to 81 this year) and Papa John’s (up 5% to 80) achieved significant gains this year. Quick-Service Restaurants as a whole averaged a 3% increase, or 78.
In the quick service restaurant industry, just five companies (Panera (-1%), Little Caesars (-1%), Taco Bell (-1%), Sonic (-3%) and Chipotle (-3%) saw their ratings drop from the previous year. The biggest decreases in the business were seen at Sonic and Chipotle, both of which fell by 3 percent.
Beverage variety was the area where the QSR industry saw the greatest improvement (up 3%), followed by accuracy (up 2%), mobile app dependability (up 2%), beverage quality (up 2%), food quality (up 2%), website satisfaction (up 2%), and website speed (up 2%). Improvements in the job market from one year to the next may explain the rise in precision and velocity. Better efficiency and the use of labor-saving technologies are goals shared by an increasing number of popular restaurant chains.
Full-service has an average customer satisfaction score of 81, up 1% from previous year. Full-service restaurants, sports shoes, and soft drinks lead all categories.
Outback Steakhouse was the leading full-service brand, up 8% to 83, followed by Cracker Barrel (up 5%) and LongHorn Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse (both up 3%). Last year, LongHorn, Texas Roadhouse, and a collection of smaller restaurants shared the top spot with a score of 80, suggesting operational improvements. The ACSI credited Outback’s handheld ordering tablets and new ovens and grills for the year-over-year boost. Last summer, Cracker Barrel launched a new breakfast menu and app. LongHorn and Texas Roadhouse are also using Roadhouse Pay to improve service.
According to Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and ACSI director of research emeritus, “with beef prices on the rise, these brands may face challenges in managing price increases and supply chain pressures.” Some of these businesses, however, are benefiting from the current inflationary climate, as more affluent customers are opting for lower-priced chain eateries. We should keep an eye on this.
Fridays is the only full-service restaurant experiencing a drop in patronage (-1% to 77) and IHOP (-1% to 72), the worst score in the industry and 5 points below the second lowest. Following the pandemic, most companies have taken steps to make their customers happier.
Customer satisfaction for full-service restaurants is up this year compared to last year, when the epidemic was at its height, said Morgeson. But rising inflationary pressures are causing a decline in foot traffic. As competition increases in the market, price and value become increasingly important.