McDonald’s in Last Place in Customer Satisfaction Poll

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McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) held its traditional place in the fast-food category of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). It is also the largest company in the category in sales — by far. Size matters

Chick-fil-A won the contest for the top spot. According to the announcement of the results:

Chick-fil-A, already the top-rated restaurant in the ACSI, shows that product focus has its benefits as the chicken sandwich specialist pulls further ahead with a 1-percent increase to 87. Before Chick-fil-A entered the ACSI, Papa John’s often held the top spot in the industry. The pizza chain climbs 5 percent to second place at 82. Little Caesars surges 9 percent to 81, tied with fast casual chain Panera Bread.

In the coffee category, Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) suffered a stinging loss to the much smaller Dunkin’ Donuts from Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc.(NASDAQ: DNKN):

Customers are more satisfied at Dunkin’ Donuts (+3% to 80) than at Starbucks (+1% to 75). Arby’s (+8% to 80) ties Subway (+4%) and both beat the burger chains. Burger King and Wendy’s are up
6 percent and 4 percent, respectively, to 76.

The tainted food debacle stung Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG):

Nearly all fast food restaurants achieve higher customer satisfaction, with a notable exception being Chipotle Mexican Grill, which debuted near the top of the industry last year. Chipotle drops 6 percent to 78 after suffering from a spate of food-related illnesses

Consumers have long memories. Chipotle’s troubles may not go away for years.

Does any of it mean anything to the restaurants themselves?

“Americans are now spending more money dining out than shopping for groceries,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder. “Fast food restaurants appear to be capitalizing on this trend more than full-service restaurants, maintaining the lower prices and speedy service that has long defined the industry, while also appealing to health-conscious consumers via more diverse offerings and higher-quality ingredients.”

ACSI may be right to some extent, but not with McDonald’s. Its new menu and all-day breakfast have not only made it the largest such company, but also one of the fastest growing.