The American Customer Service Index (ACSI) report, released today, shows full-service restaurants as a whole have scored higher in customer satisfaction than quick-service restaurants. As a whole, the full-service category has increased 1.3 percent, to an ACSI benchmark of 81, on a 100-point scale.
Customer satisfaction is relatively solid across the board. Most major full-service chains score between 81 and 83. Darden’s Olive Garden and Red Lobster lead the pack with benchmarks of 83, Olive Garden saw a 4 percent increase in the past year, possibly a reflection of their new, affordable three-course menu option. Outback Steakhouse has kept the same score of 81 for the third straight year. Outlier Chili’s Grill & Bar scored 78, a 3 percent increase from last year’s score, but still a large gap from the other competitors.
But it was Applebee’s that stole the show. Applebee’s has seen an outstanding 6 percent increase, a positive correlation with their recent menu overhaul and promotional activities. Applebee’s recently redid their look, making the brand sleek and modern, costing around $250,000 per location. But it might have paid off, Applebee’s saw the greatest improvement of all full-service restaurants, and received a score of 82, making them third overall. Applebee’s also had top sales of their varied menu category for 2012 with a 1.9 percent increase, according to the 2013 Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report. Red Lobster and Olive Garden each had a 4.5 percent increase in sales.
As a whole, consumers think highly of their full-service experience, according to the report. On average, costumers rate full-service restaurants’ accuracy of orders at 89, and the helpfulness of the waitstaff at 87. Food was rated at 86 and beverage at 87. Website satisfaction for full-service restaurants scored 82, which was well above total website satisfaction, which was only 78.3.
Lagging behind the other areas of the full-service restaurant experience is the time it takes for the food to arrive, which was given the benchmark of 83. Surprisingly, quick-service restaurants received a score of 83 for speediness as well.
The ACSI report was a combination of nearly 9,000 customer surveys collected in the first quarter of 2013. ACSI is a benchmark of the customer experience, and its scores have also been tied to consumer spending and company financial performance. The ACSI’s June report covers customer satisfaction with airlines, hotels, full-service restaurants, fast food chains, consumer shipping, and the mail services of the U.S. Postal Service.
By Kirsten Ballard
News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.