Customer Satisfaction Levels Higher for Smaller Chains, Report Shows

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16th July 2014 12:39 - Food

While larger restaurant chains have suffered declining customer satisfaction levels, smaller outlets have benefited from increased consumer gratification, according to a report published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

On average, Americans dined out for four meals a week in 2013 – a 60% upsurge since the end of the Great Recession.

Customer satisfaction levels for full-service restaurants rose 1.2% to an ACSI score of 82, to marginally outshine fast-food outlets (80).

While small chains profited from a 2% increase in customer contentment – to reach an ACSI score of 83 – larger chains witnessed a drop in satisfaction levels.

Outback Steakhouse and Darden’s Olive Garden topped the ACSI table for larger outlets, but even they suffered a drop in satisfaction levels – Outback -1% and Darden’s -4% – from one year ago.

Red Lobster incurred the steepest fall in satisfaction (-6%) to drop down to 78 ACSI points. Applebee’s (-5%) and Chili’s (-5%) also received reduced counts of consumer gratification.

Fast-food outlets maintained their steady score of 80 in the ACSI to make it their third successive year to uphold their highest ever customer satisfaction levels. Smaller fast-food joints were found to have higher customer satisfaction counts than the major chains.

Among the biggest companies, pizza dominates, with all four of the largest pizza chains topping the category. Papa John’s (unchanged) and Pizza Hut (+3%) share the lead at 82, with Little Caesar (-2%) and Domino’s Pizza (-1%) not far behind with 80.

Elsewhere, Subway (-6%) tied with Wendy’s on 78 points, ahead of Burger King (unchanged) and Starbucks (-5%) at 76 and Dunkin’ Donuts (-6%) with 75. KFC incurred the biggest drop in customer satisfaction levels (-9%) to slip down to 74 points, just ahead of Taco Bell (-3%) on 72 and McDonalds (-3%) with 71.

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