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Consumer Trends

Chick-fil-A tops the list of consumers' favorite chains

The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index ranks full- and limited-service chains based on guest experience.
Photograph: Shutterstock

New results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released today reveal consumers’ top chain restaurant picks based on guest experience.

The ACSI Restaurant Study 2020-2021 addressed attributes such as accuracy of a food order, food quality, restaurant cleanliness, helpfulness of waitstaff and mobile ordering. The data covers both limited- and full-service restaurants.

Top 10 LSRs

Chick-fil-A continues to lead the Top 10 on the limited-service side, with a customer satisfaction rating of 83%. The popular chicken chain did drop 1 percentage point from its 2020 ranking, but it’s still America’s favorite QSR.

The next nine quick-service chains, in descending order, are:

Domino’s—80%

KFC—79%

Starbucks—79%

Five Guys—78%

Panera Bread—78%

Pizza Hut—78%

Arby’s—77%

Chipotle Mexican Grill—77%

Dunkin’—77%

Interestingly, Chipotle fell by 4% from its 2020 ranking, and Dunkin and Arby’s each dropped 3%. Accuracy of food order, quality of mobile app and courtesy and helpfulness of staff are consumers’ most important considerations in rating limited-service chains.

Top 10 FSRs

Of the full-service restaurants ranked in the survey, diners gave LongHorn Steakhouse the highest marks. The chain came in at No. 1 in both 2020 and 2021, but fell 1 percentage point in customer satisfaction over the course of the pandemic.

The next nine full-service chains, in descending order, are:

Olive Garden—80%

Texas Roadhouse—80%

Cracker Barrel—78%

Outback Steakhouse—78%

Red Robin—78%

Applebee’s—77%

Chili’s—77%

Red Lobster—77%

TGI Fridays—77%

Chili’s and Red Robin showed the biggest gain in customer satisfaction, increasing by 3%, while Red Lobster fell 3%. Accuracy of food order, food quality (taste, temperature, freshness of ingredients) and restaurant layout and cleanliness had the most impact on full-service guests’ ratings.

The ACSI Restaurant Study was conducted through email interviews with 19,423 customers between April 1, 2020, and March 29, 2021.

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