SONIC Drive-In received top honors in the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings report by market research organization Temkin Group, moving up to fifth place after earning the seventh spot in 2013. SONIC ranked higher than all other burger chains and tied for fifth place among 268 national brands, and was the only burger quick-service restaurant within the top five brands.

“It makes us very proud to be recognized again for our emphasis on customer experience and to be included within the top five brands overall,” says Omar Janjua, chief restaurant operations officer at Sonic. “Customer experience is the most important aspect of our business because it encompasses the combination of food, service, and atmosphere. Each SONIC employee takes this responsibility to heart, and our continuous efforts to improve are being recognized.”

Temkin Group evaluated 268 U.S. companies spanning 19 industries for the fourth annual Temkin Experience Ratings report, analyzing feedback from 10,000 U.S. consumers. Each company was evaluated against three elements of experience: functional (how well do experiences meet customers’ needs?), accessible (how easy is it for customers to do what they want to do?), and emotional (how do customers feel about the experiences?). Similar to last year’s scores, the report showed grocery stores and fast-food brands dominating the top of the ratings.

“The customer experience is everything at SONIC; our food, customer service, and drive-in style set us apart and this report confirms that customers appreciate that,” says James O’Reilly, chief marketing officer at Sonic. “Our brand has a strong history and an enthusiastic fan-base, and it’s our job to continue to provide consistent service and a positive experience.”     

SONIC excels at all three of the aspects through its unique business platform. The brand achieves the functional element through the drive-in format, which always puts guests at the front of the line and allows them to order at the press of a button and eat at their leisure from a private drive-in stall. SONIC also shines on the accessible element, allowing guests to customize each order to their exact needs as food is cooked to order. SONIC offers a total of 1,392,085 different fountain drink and slush combinations, making it an ideal drink stop for guests with a variety of tastes. Finally, the emotional element connects back to SONIC’s 60-year heritage, the nostalgia of the drive-in and carhop service, and the brand’s dedicated involvement in local communities.

Within the fast-food industry, Temkin Group evaluated a selection of successful brands, including all major restaurant chains as well as popular coffee and sandwich brands. SONIC emerged as the highest-ranked burger brand and out-ranked all fast-food brands but Chick-fil-A, which came out on top by one percentage point. SONIC was also the highest-ranked burger chain in 2013, when it tied overall for seventh place.

Temkin Group is a customer experience research and consulting firm led by Bruce Temkin. Prior to forming Temkin Group, Bruce Temkin was a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research for 12 years, where he specialized in customer experience.

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