dunnhumby, the world’s leading customer science company, released their first Customer Centricity Index (CCI) measuring how well retailers are responding to the needs and wants of their customers – through the eyes of their customers. The dunnhumby Customer Centricity Index weighs customers’ perceptions of retailers against seven pillars or primary business areas most critical for achieving long-term customer centricity to help retailers understand where and how they can improve.


dunnhumby’s first CCI report and ranking focuses on the restaurant industry with a deeper look into three primary categories: Casual Dining, Fast Casual, and Fast Food. Outback Steakhouse and Panera Bread score at the top of the Food Service Retail ranking overall as well as within their respective categories, Casual Dining and Fast Casual. Chick-Fil-A came in at #7 on the overall Food Service ranking, but ranked the highest within the Fast Food category.


Top Scoring Food Service Retailers:


1.     Outback Steakhouse

2.     Panera Bread

3.     Texas Roadhouse

4.     Olive Garden

5.     Chili’s

6.     Red Lobster

7.     Chick-Fil-A

8.     In ‘N’ Out Burgers

9.     Cracker Barrel

10.   Applebee’s


In their analysis, dunnhumby found that companies with higher CCI scores also tended to have higher long-term comparable sales growth over a two-year period. “Restaurants face more operational challenges in becoming customer-centric organizations than other categories of retail as franchise models often make it difficult to consistently deliver the same customer experience across outlets and, ultimately, build long-term loyalty with customers,” says Euan White, senior vice president, consumer markets, dunnhumbyUSA. “Our research shows that customer centricity is a key indicator of business health and potential for growth. It also shows that food retailers that understand what drives a customer to their brand are leveraging that insight to differentiate themselves from the competition and drive sales.”


“Insight into how well we are meeting the wants and needs of our customers is invaluable for informing our business. dunnhumby’s CCI report provides another tool to help assess our brand health,” says Michael Simon, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Panera Bread. “Delivering for our customers first is something we strive for as a company and it’s rewarding to know how our efforts are being received by our customers.”


The Seven Pillars of Customer Centricity


In what Forrester Research has coined “The Age of the Customer,” businesses across verticals are embracing the concept of customer centricity by adopting more customer-driven strategies and forgoing traditional business-driven strategies. “Customer centricity has become a catch-all term for talking about customer experience or customer satisfaction and while many businesses describe themselves as customer-centric, understanding what your current customers need and activating on those needs can be a challenge,” continues White. “Retailers need to evaluate their business strategy in terms of what matters most to customers, what we call the ‘Seven Pillars of Customer Centricity’: experience, loyalty, communications, assortment, promotions, price, and feedback. By analyzing customers’ perceptions of retailers against these pillars, retailers have a blueprint for customer-centric activation to drive customer loyalty.”


Over 100 food service retailers were rated by their customers via an online survey over a 9-month period and were asked to rate each retailer on over 40 customer-centric attributes based on the “Seven Pillars of Customer Centricity.” Retailer scores are based on a weighted average of those results that link the various factors of customer centricity to loyalty and likelihood to recommend. Respondents were classified as customers of a retailer based on trips occurring at the retailer in the past three months.


Key findings from the dunnhumby Food Service CCI:


·     A strong customer experience, personalized communications, and a tailored assortment mix that meet customer needs had the strongest impact on customer centricity and higher CCI scores/rankings.

·     Across all food service categories, price was important to customers but was less about “lowest price” and more heavily tied to perceived value. For example, Outback Steakhouse’s CCI score for price was slightly higher than competitors with a similar or lower price point. This indicates that Outback customers perceive a stronger value for their purchases than at competitive restaurants.

·     Casual dining and fast casual retailers were rated higher than fast food retailers by customers in terms of experience and opportunities for them to give feedback and interact with the company. Therefore, casual dining and fast casual restaurants overall tended to have higher CCI scores than fast food.

·     Outback Steakhouse, #1 on the foodservice CCI, scored high in assortment and feedback but excelled within both foodservice and casual dining in experience. Insights from customer responses reflect the quality of the brand experience and how it translates seamlessly across the way the brand is marketed and the products they serve.

·     Panera Bread, the fast casual category leader, scored higher than competitors in each of the seven pillars and significantly higher in loyalty. Customers indicated an appreciation for the retailer’s personalized rewards and surprise and delight features of Panera’s MyPanera loyalty program.

·     For the fast food category leader, Chick-Fil-A outscored competitors in experience, communication, feedback and assortment. Customer responses indicated that their customers were passionate for the brand, the quality of the food, and the variety of their assortment.

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