Restaurant chain that customers are most satisfied with is….

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Hands on restaurant table

A quick-service brand has taken the top spot for the seventh consecutive year in an annual customer satisfaction survey.

Chick-fil-A snags the top spot among all restaurants measured for the seventh straight year in the  American Customer Satisfaction Index  Restaurant Study 2020-2021. The popular brand had  an ACSI score of 83 (on a 0-100 scale), inching down 1% from last year.

The ACSI study, based on interviews with nearly 19,500 consumers, separates restaurants into categories: full service and limited service (fast food).  After slipping the previous year, customer satisfaction with full-service restaurants bounces back, climbing 1.3% to an ACSI score of 80.  Customer satisfaction with the limited-service  restaurant industry holds steady at 78.

In the full-service category, LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden and Texas Roadhouse came out on top, all with an ACSI score of 80. They were followed by Cracker Barrel, Outback Steakhouse and Red Robin, all of which had a score of 78.  IHOP came in last, scoring 74 in its first year in the study.

Chick-fil-A topped the limited service category with an ACSI score of 83, followed by Domino’s, with a score of 80, and KFC and Starbucks, both of which scored 79.  Last on the list was McDonald’s, at 70.

In terms of the customer experience, full-service restaurants have the edge, the study found. In fact, the industry overall outperforms the limited-service category across nearly all customer experience benchmarks measured by the ACSI.

Customers agree that sit-down chains are far superior to fast food outlets when it comes to restaurant layout and cleanliness (86 to 82), food quality (86 to 82), food variety (84 to 79), and staff courtesy and helpfulness (85 to 82).

Additionally, orders are more accurate (88 to 84) at full-service restaurants. These establishments offer a wider variety of beverages (82 to 78) and superior beverage quality (84 to 81).

Full-service restaurants also provide better mobile app quality (85 to 83). In terms of reliability, however, fast-food apps mirror full-service apps (both at 82).   

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