Out of nearly 4,000 diners surveyed, 74 per cent said customer service was what influenced their dining decisions most, followed by food quality (46 per cent) and value for money (21 per cent).
Other categories suggested to respondents included menu choice, personal welcome, ambiance, drink quality and range, brand reputation and locations.
Among 54 casual dining brands, diners rated Jamie’s Italian as providing the best customer satisfaction, followed by TGI Friday’s and Loch Fyne.
The survey also invited respondents to play the part of a waiter or waitress and share what they thought would be most important to the quality of their service to a customer. ‘Friendly and genuine’, ‘attentiveness to customers’ and ‘knowledge of the menu’ were the three biggest theme that emerged from the exercise, while the word ‘smile’ came out 1,305 times.
Adam Goran, customer engagement divisional director at Grass Roots, said: “This survey provides leading casual dining brands real insight into a £6.7bn industry to help them understand what their customers think about them – and their competitors.
“It’s not surprising to see that customer service – customer engagement – is at the forefront of diner’s requirements.”
A separate customer satisfaction survey released in June by CGA Peach crowned Loch Fyne as the top casual dining brand, followed by Browns, Jamie’s Italian, Las Iguanas and Carluccio’s.