The Best and Worst Customer Service Among Restaurants

One of the best performing stocks among the 30 that comprise the Dow Jones Industrial Average belongs to a restaurant chain that is among the worst in its category for customer service. In fact, just three of 11 restaurants finish in the top third of 150 companies in 17 categories ranked on their customer service.

That ranking is based on our recent survey of customer service conducted by Zogby Analytics. The top-ranked restaurant chain finished ninth out of the 150 companies, and the lowest-ranked weighed in at 139th. All the restaurants in the survey were fast-food chains, and three are owned by the same parent company.

Surprisingly, perhaps, fast-food restaurants as a group now rank slightly higher with Americans than do full-service chains. Whether that’s due to a better experience for diners at a fast-food outlet or a reflection on the higher prices at full-service restaurants is unclear.

The Zogby survey included a telephone interview with 1,500 randomly selected U.S. consumers. Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction level with a company’s customer service on a scale of “excellent,” “good,” “fair” and “poor” for each company.

We reported our overall findings in our Customer Service Hall of Fame and Customer Service Hall of Shame stories published in August. We have also broken out and taken a look at the pay-TV industry, the mobile network carrier industry, the airline industrybanking, department stores and their customer service ratings.

Here is a listing of 11 fast-food restaurants ranked from best to worst based on the percentage of “excellent” ratings they received in the survey. Also included are the percentage of “poor ratings” and U.S. revenues generated by the stores in their most recent fiscal year.

Chick-fil-A (privately held)
> Overall rank: ninth
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 41.27%
> Pct. “poor” ratings: 5.63%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $7.97 billion

Chick-fil-A had a total of 2,102 U.S. stores in 2016, 1,730 franchised and 372 company owned. Annual sales per store totaled $4.41 million.

Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX)
> Overall rank: 43rd
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 33.81%
> Pct. “poor” ratings: 9.31%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $14.8 billion

Starbucks had a total of 13,172 U.S. stores in 2016, 5,292 franchised and 7,880 company owned. Annual sales per store totaled $1.12 million.

Subway (privately held)
> Overall rank: 78th
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 30.46%
> Pct. “poor” ratings: 6.00%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $11.3 billion

Subway had a total of 26,744 U.S. stores in 2016 and all were franchised. Annual sales per store totaled $422,520.

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (NASDAQ: DNKN)
> Overall rank: 98th
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 28.97%
> Pct. “poor” ratings: 5.87%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $8.2 billion

Dunkin’ Donuts had a total of 8,828 U.S. stores in 2016 and all were franchised. Annual sales per store totaled $928,860.

Burger King/Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE: QSR)
> Overall rank: 106th
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 27.67%
> Pct. “poor” ratings: 7.48%
> Revenue last fiscal year: $9.75 billion

Burger King had a total of 7,161 U.S. stores in 2016, 7,111 franchised and 50 company owned. Annual sales per store totaled $1.36 million.

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