Fast Service Does Not Equal Good Customer Service

The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index has found that customers are less satisfied with fast food chains as their preferences have shifted.

You may thing that delivering a fast service will automatically equal higher customer satisfaction, but this isn't the case for the restaurant industry in the US.

Data from the 2015 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) shows that customer satisfaction with limited-service (fast food) restaurants has dropped 3.8 per cent to 77, which marks the lowest score in 5 years.

Customer satisfaction with full-service restaurants holds steady at 82 on ACSI's 100-point scale, which means that the satisfaction gap between the two types of restaurants is now the largest since 2010.

SEE ALSO: Retail Satisfaction Slumps in the USA

The ACSI report is based on 5,023 customer surveys collected in the first quarter of 2015. It looks at company and industry customer satisfaction scores, measuring critical elements of the dining experience that affect patron satisfaction.

Customer experience benchmarks include the quality and variety of food and beverages, restaurant layout and cleanliness, and service elements such as staff courtesy, food order accuracy, and speed of food delivery to the customer.

Despite the overall low score for the fast food side, two new entrants to ACSI debut at the top of this list: Chick-fil-A and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Chick-fil-A leads at 86, which is the highest company score to date in the category. Chipotle takes second place in its first ACSI appearance with a score of 83.

David VanAmburg, Director of ACSI, explains the high score for the new entrants: "The fast casual segment of quick service restaurants is nicely situated for the confluence of changing consumer tastes and a rebounding economy.

"Consumers have a bit more money in their pockets, but are still pressed for time. Fast casual outlets offer higher-quality ingredients, freshness and fast service - all at a reasonable price."

However, established fast food entities like McDonald's (-6% to 67), Burger King (-5% to 72), KFC (-1% to 73), Wendy's (-6% to 73), Arby's (debuts at 74) and Taco Bell (unchanged at 72) remain at the bottom of the industry.

The only fast food chain to improve customer satisfaction in 2015 is Dunkin' Donuts, which climbs 4 per cent to 78, jumping ahead of Starbucks (-3% to 74). ACSI highlights in a statement that in 2014 Dunkin' Donuts rolled out a beverage rewards programme tied to its mobile app, which could be attributed to the rise in satisfaction.