Study: Customer satisfaction with QSR, pizza brands rises

A report released today by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) shows a growing approval rating for quick-service and pizza brands. The quarterly report gauges consumer satisfaction with the quality of products and services provided by five industries, including full-service and quick-service restaurants.

Customer satisfaction with full-service restaurants was up 1.2 percent, to an ACSI score of 82. The QSR segment climbed 5.3 percent to 79.

Pizza dominates the QSR ratings. Pizza Hut was No. 1 with a 4 percent improvement to an ACSI score of 81. Little Caesars and Starbucks were both up 3 percent to 80, followed by Papa John's, which actually went down 1 percent to 79. Domino's Pizza was fourth with an unchanged score of 77 for a third straight year, despite a major overhaul of its recipes.

Wendy's tops burger satisfaction and holds its ground at 77, followed by Taco Bell (up 3 percent following the dropped lawsuit controversy) at 76. KFC (unchanged) and Burger King (up 1 percent) are tied at 75. McDonald's makes the largest improvement of all companies, jumping 8 percent to a score of 72, but remains in last place among QSR chains.

"Since the gap to its competitors has narrowed, this may well be the sweet spot for McDonald's," said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of "The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference." "It's not that the Golden Arches operation is so big that its revenue is immune to low customer satisfaction, but rather it is less impacted by low satisfaction compared with the competition. Convenience, kid appeal, location, low prices and meeting customer expectations are the ingredients of success for McDonald's. Mix in a healthier dose of customer satisfaction, and the company's near future looks better than it did a year ago."

Darden-owned chains Olive Garden (down 2 percent) and Red Lobster (down 1 percent) lead the restaurant category at 82, with Outback Steakhouse at third, up 1 percent to 81.

The index is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. It is updated each quarter and factors in scores from more than 225 companies in 47 industries and from government agencies over the previous four quarters. The index was founded at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and is produced by ACSI LLC.

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