Chick-fil-A customers are loving their experience—so much so that the company vaults to the top of the fast food restaurant category in its first appearance in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. What about the love coming McDonald’s way? Well…not so much. In fact, the world’s largest fast food chain can’t get out of the industry’s basement. In 2015, McDonald’s takes another hit for customer satisfaction—down 6% to an industry low of 67 on ACSI’s 100-point scale.
With a laser focus on poultry, Chick-fil-A debuts at the sky-high level of 86, handily beating rival KFC (-1% to 73) and setting an all-time ACSI high among fast food outlets. Additionally, across nine key elements of the restaurant customer experience, Chick-fil-A is the industry benchmark leader for the fast food category, with only Papa John’s providing a challenge in one area—website satisfaction.
Across the board, pizza makers see big drops in customer satisfaction this year—ranging from an 8% decline for Little Caesars to 5% and 6% drops for Papa John’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut. Other established names including Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, and Taco Bell populate the low end of the ACSI ratings, perhaps receiving a collective yawn from consumers looking for healthier menu items, better service, and amped-up décor. Seemingly fitting the bill better are Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill, debuting in second and third place with ACSI scores of 80 and 83, respectively.
In the full-service category, steak houses do well by their customers as Texas Roadhouse grabs first place at 83, followed by LongHorn Steakhouse at 81. Outback Steakhouse, however, ends up below the industry average after retreating 3% to 78.
Across the customer experience, LongHorn leads in six of nine food and service areas, including food and drink quality, layout and cleanliness, and staff courtesy. Texas Roadhouse offers the best website while matching Longhorn for beverage quality and service speed. Cracker Barrel—placing third among sit-down venues with an ACSI score of 80—is well-liked by its customers for food-to-table speed as well as food menu variety.