Industry News | March 27, 2017 | By Danny Klein | QSR Exclusive Brief

Study: Chick-fil-A is Still the King of Customer Service

Chick-fil-A continues to impress with customer service. Chick-fil-A/Tom Mileshko
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Chipotle’s comeback appears to be resonating with its customers.

In the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings released Monday, the fast casual leader finished tied for second in the survey’s quick-service restaurant ratings. Overall, Chipotle was fourth out of 331 companies across 20 industries.

The brand’s score of 82 percent tied it with Hardee's, which appointed a new CEO last week to succeed Andy Puzder. Only Chick-fil-A, an established leader in the category, was ahead with a mark of 83 percent.

In QSR's 2016 Drive-Thru study, Chick-fil-A flexed its customer service muscle again. Employee service attributes, from smiling and saying “please” and “thank you” to making eye contact and having an overall pleasant demeanor, were sky-high at Chick-fil-A and cumulatively far ahead of the rest of the pack.

The survey included 10,000 U.S. consumers. To generate the ratings, the Temkin Group asked participants to evaluate their recent experiences with a company across three dimensions: success (can you do what you want to do?), effort (how easy is it to work with the company?), and emotion (how do you feel about the interactions?) The final score is an average of the three metrics.

Chipotle, which reported sales increases of 20 percent in December and 25.6 percent in January, also impressed in a recent study conducted by Market Force Information. There, the company was identified as America’s favorite chain in the Mexican food segment. It topped the speed of service, food quality, overall cleanliness, and curb appeal categories.

Supermarket chain Publix was the No. 1 company in the Temkin Experience Ratings at 84 percent. Grocery H-E-B was tied with Chick-fil-A for second, while Regions bank and supermarket Hannaford joined Chipotle and Hardees in the fourth spot.

Perhaps most surprising, however, was the quick-service industry’s performance as a whole. The 24 brands averaged a 76 percent rating, good for second overall out of 20 industries. It improved 5 percentage points in the last year, up from 71.1 percent.

Every quick-service chain enjoyed an increase from 2016 except for Taco Bell, which was down 2 percentage points. Baskin-Robbins and KFC each jumped 12 points to signal the biggest jump.

“"It's impressive that every single fast food company we looked at delivers a customer experience that's either "good" or "excellent," says Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group, in a statement.

In these ratings, a score of 70 percent or above is considered "good," and a score of 80 percent or above is considered "excellent," while a score below 60 percent is considered "poor."

Here are the full rankings (including full-service brand IHOP):

  • Chick-fil-A: 83 percent
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill: 82 percent
  • Hardees: 82 percent
  • Subway: 81 percent
  • Arby's: 80 percent
  • KFC: 80 percent
  • Baskin Robbins: 79 percent
  • Dairy Queen: 79 percent
  • Starbucks: 79 percent
  • Dunkin' Donuts: 78 percent
  • Papa John's: 78 percent
  • IHOP: 77 percent
  • Little Caesar's: 77 percent
  • Panera Bread: 77 percent
  • Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen: 75 percent
  • Sonic Drive-In: 75 percent
  • Burger King: 74 percent
  • Panda Express: 74 percent
  • Wendy's: 74 percent
  • Pizza Hut: 73 percent
  • Domino's: 72 percent
  • Jack in the Box: 72 percent
  • McDonald's: 71 percent
  • Taco Bell: 71 percent