Chick-fil-A Leads in Customer Satisfaction for 8th Consecutive Year

When it comes to fast-food chains overall, customer satisfaction is slipping.

June 30, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Chick-fil-A leads in customer satisfaction for the eighth year in a row, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACI) Restaurant Study. The fast-food chain received a score of 83 out of 100, and respondents answered questions about their experiences with Chick-fil-A, including accuracy of food order, food quality, courtesy and helpfulness of staff, restaurant layout and cleanliness and speed of checkout/delivery/foodservice.

Overall, respondents are more satisfied with full-service restaurants over fast-food places. Full-service restaurants received a score of 80 out of 100, while the fast-food industry received a 76 score, down 2.6% over last year’s survey.

Restaurants had to shift their tactics over the past few years, relying more on a digital, touchless approach to stay in business and keep customers satisfied, notes the ACI, and some have had more success than others.

“The large group of smaller full-service restaurants experiences substantial deterioration in mobile app quality, contributing to a steep decline for the industry overall, which tumbles 8% to 78,” said Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director of research Emeritus at the ACSI. “Amid the pandemic, restaurants needed to quickly up their game in the mobile arena. With fewer resources, smaller chains and independent restaurants are offering apps that aren’t making the grade per customers. In contrast, positive shifts in both mobile app quality and reliability for several larger chains appear to reflect major app updates for these bigger industry players.”

The top full-service restaurants were Texas Roadhouse and LongHorn Steakhouse with both scoring 80. Applebee’s and IHOP both occupy the bottom spot with scores of 73. The former plummets 5%, while the latter slips 1% over last year’s results.

Customers agree that sit-down spots outperform fast-food chains when it comes to food order accuracy (87 to 83), restaurant layout and cleanliness (84 to 81), food quality (86 to 81) and food variety (84 to 79).

Additionally, staff are perceived as more courteous and helpful (84 to 82) at full-service restaurants than at fast-food chains. Sit-down establishments offer a wider variety of beverages (83 to 77) and greater beverage quality (84 to 81).

Full-service restaurants also have more reliable mobile apps (85 to 82). However, the quality of fast-food apps is vastly superior to full-service apps (83 to 78), as the latter tumbles 8% year over year.

As more commuters are returning to the office, fast-food chains are beefing up their breakfast promotions and loyalty programs to recapture the morning daypart that was severely crippled by COVID-19. Fast-food-restaurant traffic was up 11% in 2021, according to the National Restaurant Association, despite many workers continuing to work from home and only some children were back to in-person school. A new DoorDash report shows that breakfast orders on the app increased three-fold between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. in 2021 compared to 2020.

Here’s how convenience retailers are reawakening the morning daypart.

A recent Harvard Business Review study on loyalty programs found three takeaways for loyalty programs. NACS Magazine dove into loyalty programs and how they can provide convenience retailers with critical consumer insights and a competitive edge.