The American Customer Satisfaction Index just released its 2017 Restaurant Report, which ranks full-service and and fast-food restaurants based on all aspects on the customer experience. ACSI takes its data from around 180,000 customers each year, rating and ranking more than 300 companies in 43 industries and 10 sectors of the economy.
Taking a look at the 2017 reports, it seems full-service restaurants are in trouble; overall, customer satisfaction at the restaurants dropped 3.7 percent to an ACSI score of 78 (out of 100).
Menu prices are going up, same-store sales and repeat visits are down and foot traffic is dropping at its highest rate in almost a decade. Lower grocery prices are encouraging more Americans to cook at home, and a focus on convenience, quick service and healthier choices for younger consumers are drawing folks away from full-service restaurants en masse.
In fact, this is the first time full-service restaurants overall have dropped below an ASCI score of 80. Still, there are a few bright spots on the top-10 list.
Top-ranking Cracker Barrel saw a slight increase in customer satisfaction, moving from and ASCI 83 to 84. Similar small gains were made by Red Lobster (79 to 81), Outback Steakhouse (77 to 80), Chili's (75 to 77) and Denny's (74 to 76).
Then again, other full-service restaurants saw their customer service scores drop from 2016, some of them significantly. The biggest drop came for Red Robin, which moves from an ASCI 80 to 73, a fall of 9 percent. Longhorn Steakhouse (82 to 77) and TGI Fridays (78 to 76) also saw customer satisfaction dwindling, while Texas Roadhouse (82), Olive Garden (81), Applebee's (79) and Ruby Tuesday (78) scores stayed level.
Things are a bit brighter in the fast-food -- or, as ASCI terms it, limited-service -- world, with overall customer satisfaction stable at 79, pulling ahead of full-service restaurants by a single point.
Higher-quality ingredients, faster service and lower prices are to thank for fast food's stable satisfaction ratings, with most of the top-10 fast-food restaurants seeing gains in their ASCI scores.
Industry leader Chick-fil-A saw no change in its impressive score of 87 from 2016 to 2017, while other top-10 placers Panera Bread (81 to 82), Subway (80 to 81) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (78 to 79) also saw positive change in their ASCI scores.
Things remained level for Papa John's (82), Arby's (80), Domino's (78) and KFC (78), and the only two fast-food restaurants to see declining ASCI numbers were Dunkin' Donuts (80 to 79) and Little Caesars (81 to 78).
You can download the full 2017 ASCI Restaurant Report here.