Special Report

Restaurant Chains With the Happiest Customers

Source: jeepersmedia / Flickr

Sonic Drive-In
> Category: Fast-food restaurant chains
> Score: 8.21/10

With the help of Benenson Strategy Group, a research consultancy, Sonic has been working on brand loyalty since 2012. Benenson developed a “Brand Loyalty Funnel” to categorize customers, in ascending order of importance, as aware, quality aware, trial, repeat, regular, engaged, loyal, and advocate — and Sonic has recorded a 33% growth in the most important of those since the program began.

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> Category: Ice cream and frozen yogurt stores
> Score: 8.36/10

Recent consumer research reveals that consumers consider this chain’s ice cream to be a prestige product, but that in-store customer experience failed to match the product’s status. The company responded by hiring leadership consultancy firm Achieve Forum to identify factors affecting customer loyalty and to develop a training program to help employees improve guest experience. Haagen Dazs set a goal of confirming 30% of its customers as loyal, at stores that had implemented the program, but actually confirmed some 43%.

Source: Hans Olav Lien / Wikimedia Commons

Cold Stone Creamery
> Category: Ice cream and frozen yogurt stores
> Score: 8.30/10

This Arizona-based design-your-own-ice-cream chain (customers choose a base ice cream and can have many add-in options mixed in) helps keep customers loyal through its satisfaction-guaranteed policy: If guests aren’t happy with their custom-enhanced ice cream, an employee will make them a new one. Large servings and the fact that ice cream and waffle cones are made in-house probably add to customer satisfaction.

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Dippin’ Dots
> Category: Ice cream and frozen yogurt stores
> Score: 8.11/10

Dippin’ Dots — tiny beads of flash-frozen ice cream — were invented in 1988 by microbiologist Curt Jones. They’re sold at amusement parks and fairs, in convenience stores and pharmacies, and in freestanding franchise units — some of them co-branded with the same company’s Doc Popcorn brand. Dippin’ Dots has worked with logistical services company SEKO to streamline distribution and track customer satisfaction.

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Papa Murphy’s
> Category: Pizza chains
> Score: 8.63/10

This 1,400-location pizza chain now offers third-party delivery from more than a quarter of its stores. It also has launched a customer-friendly mobile app and is in the process of developing a loyalty program. In the 2018 Consumer Picks survey published by Nation’s Restaurant News, Papa Murphy’s won third place for value, with 75% of respondents rating it “best in class” or “above average.”