U.S. restaurants took a beating in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders and recommendations kept customers away. Restaurants were forced to reconsider how to conduct business or risk extinction.
David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI, commented: “During the pandemic, folks got a taste for what it’s like to have food from their favorite restaurants delivered right to their door. And now that they’ve gotten used to this service, there’s no going back.”
According to the 2020-2021 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Restaurant Study, both full-service and limited-service (aka, quick-service or fast-food) restaurants held on or even improved their customer satisfaction scores last year. The fast-food industry maintained its overall score, while full-service restaurants boosted the scores by one index point.
For the seventh consecutive year, Chick-fil-A was the top choice among all restaurants, and its latest index score of 83 out of 100. Three full-service restaurants (LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden and Texas Roadhouse) posted identical scores of 80 to tie for first place among full-service restaurants.
Among full-service restaurants, IHOP received the lowest rating (74), while McDonald’s scored lowest (70) among fast-food restaurants. Red Lobster’s index score dropped 3% to 77 this year, the biggest drop in the full-service group. In the limited-service group, Subway’s index score dropped by 5% to 75, while both Chipotle Mexican Grill and Wendy’s saw drops of 4% to 77 and 73, respectively. The average index score among full-service restaurants increased from 79 to 80, and the average score among limited-service restaurants remained flat at 80.
In the full-service group, customer ratings were highest for accuracy of food order (88), food quality (86) and restaurant layout and cleanliness (86).
In the fast-food group, the accuracy of a food order also received the highest score (84). The second-highest customer rating went to the quality of the mobile app (83) while courtesy and helpfulness of staff, food quality, and reliability of the mobile app each scored 82.
The ACSI Restaurant Study 2020-2021 is based on interviews with 19,423 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between April 1, 2020, and March 29, 2021.
Here are the survey results for fast-food restaurants:
- Chick-fil-A: 83
- Domino’s: 80
- KFC (Yum! Brands): 79
- Starbucks: 79
- Five Guys: 78
- Panera Bread: 78
- Pizza Hut (Yum! Brands): 78
- Arby’s (Inspire Brands): 77
- Chipotle Mexican Grill: 77
- Dunkin’ (Inspire Brands): 77
- Papa John’s: 77
- Burger King (RBI): 76
- Little Caesars: 76
- Panda Express: 76
- Subway: 75
- Dairy Queen: 74
- Taco Bell (Yum! Brands): 74
- Jack in the Box: 73
- Popeyes (RBI): 73
- Sonic (Inspire Brands): 73
- Wendy’s: 73
- McDonald’s: 70
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