Full-service restaurants need to differentiate to keep business coming in.

This is just one of the conclusions reached by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which today released its annual consumer report card, revealing how well restaurants are performing in the eyes of their customers, in terms of product quality, service quality, and value/price.  

The challenging economy of the past two or three years has been boosting business in quick serve restaurants, says David VanAmburg, managing director of the ACSI.

“But this is something full-service restaurants can’t leverage because they are going to be a more expensive experience. So full-service restaurants need to differentiate themselves on ambiance, quality of the food and service.”

In a good economy, those three points easily make for a winning formula for full-service restaurants, VanAmburg explains, but that’s not been true in recent years so restaurants need to work harder.

Appealing to everyone and offering customization is also vital for full-service restaurants that want to remain attractive to their customers, he says.

Offering five food options on one plate rather than two (such as surf and turf) or offering different services—pick up, delivery, curbside service, etc.—will make a restaurant appeal to a broader segment of the population.

But overall, full-service restaurants fared well in ACSI’s annual consumer report card. These restaurants received an average ACSI score of 82 (out of 100), up 1.2 percent over this time last year. Fast-food chains climbed more, by 5.3 percent, to a score of 79.

A score of 82 is incredibly high, VanAmburg says, but also points out that the differentiation with fast-food restaurants is shrinking so full-service restaurants need to be on their game.

But their competition doesn’t only come from quick-service restaurants but also from each other. Almost every full-service restaurant included in the report received a score of 81 or 82, so restaurants need to look at how they can differentiate themselves from their immediate competitors.

By Amanda Baltazar

Industry News, Legal