Industry News | July 26, 2013

Study: Quick Serves Miss Opportunity in Customer Service

Empathica Inc., a leading global provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to some of the world's most respected multi-unit enterprises, announces the results of its 2013 Quick Service Restaurant Benchmark Study, which surveyed 10,000 U.S. consumers on the 62 top QSR brands, measuring food, order accuracy, speed of service, menu, restaurant atmosphere and cleanliness, staff, and value. Results determined brand rankings in these categories as well as the drivers behind customer loyalty and satisfaction.

The study revealed that quick serves are competing against each other in terms of product, followed by customer service. While most brands are successful in food taste, portion, and order accuracy, results showed noticeable gaps in customer service areas like staff attitude and restaurant atmosphere. Further, fewer brands are focusing on healthy menu options and staff recommendations. These gaps in service are opportunities for quick serves to make changes and rise above the competition.

"There are more than 100,000 quick service restaurants in the United States alone, which makes this industry an extremely competitive marketplace," says Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. "Of course these restaurants must be quick and have great tasting food, but service is where they can differentiate themselves from the competition. According to our Benchmark results, service is the area that needs improvement across the board -- it is also a key area that can drive customer loyalty and satisfaction."

Empathica found that return visits are much higher when guests are most satisfied. The likelihood of a return visit increases from 20 percent to 81 percent when customers report a higher satisfaction rate. That significant change in customer satisfaction for a quick serve can mean the difference between stagnancy and success.

When guests are strongly satisfied, they are four times more likely to recommend the restaurant to friends, family, or colleagues. Word-of-mouth is a priceless marketing tool for quick serves and according to Empathica, the act of recommending promotes customer loyalty. Benchmark results showed that brands are missing an opportunity in highly important service aspects like having an attentive and friendly staff, providing a comfortable environment, and making customers feel valued throughout their experience.

"There are several reasons why guests may not be willing to recommend quick service restaurants to family and friends," Edwards said. "Quick serves need to make sure they are providing a variety of menu options—including healthy choices—and going back to the basics in customer service. Greeting a customer when they enter the restaurant, suggesting menu recommendations, and making that guest feel like a valued customer should be a priority alongside providing a great tasting, quickly served meal."