Chick-fil-A tops in customer satisfaction for sixth consecutive year

Marianne Wilson
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Americans’ love affair with Chick-fil-A continues.

The Georgia-based eatery ranked as the top-rated restaurant for the sixth straight year in an annual survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. With a rating of 84 (out of 100), Chick-fil-A led its segment, “limited service” or fast-food, and also scored higher than any full-service restaurant. LongHorn Steakhouse topped the full-service segment, with an ACSI score of 81.

“Although its ACSI score is lower [with a 2% decline] compared with prior years, Chick-fil-A continues to be a pacesetter across much of the customer experience,” the report stated. “The chicken specialist has grown to become one of the top U.S. fast-food chains by system-wide sales. Per location in 2019, Chick-fil-A sales were over 50% higher than McDonald’s per-unit sales.”

In the fast-food category, Chick-fil-A was followed by Chipotle Mexican Grill, with a rating of 80. Arby’s, Domino’s, Dunkin, KFC, Panera Bread and Subway all scored 79. McDonald’s was last in the category, with a 70. 

For the first time since 2009, Domino's beat Papa John's in the pizza segment.

“The pizza segment overall has been facing pressure from third-party delivery services,” the report noted. “Unlike other chains, Domino’s uses its own digital platform and employees for ordering and delivery. In 2019, digital sales made up 70% of its total U.S. sales, and the company has a database of over 85 million customers.”

Customer satisfaction, however, with both full-service and limited-service restaurants is declining. According to surveys conducted from April 2019 to March 2020 – the month when the first U.S. stay-at-home policies began – customer satisfaction with the Accommodation and Food Services sector retreats 1.3% overall to a score of 77.9 (out of 100), according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Restaurant Report 2019-2020.

The pandemic hit the fast-forward button on some trends already happening, according to ACSI. 

“Even before COVID-19, delivery was fast becoming the name of the game with consumers increasingly looking for alternative delivery options,” says David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. “Millennials drove the ship, and the rise of third-party delivery services like Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats offered consumers more choices and convenience. But the pandemic has since hammered the point home: Tech innovation remains a key to success for both fast food and full-service chains, and engaging with customers digitally, especially through reliable mobile apps, is critical.”