The index for Q2 2014, which was based on a survey of over 6,000 consumers, revealed that customer satisfaction with quick-service restaurants fell 1.3 per cent year-on-year to a score of 77 out of 100, while satisfaction with full-service restaurants fell 2.6 per cent to 76.
Nearly all the major restaurant chains showed deteriorating customer satisfaction, with smaller independent restaurants scoring the highest levels of satisfaction in the full-service category, but still showing decline of 4 per cent year-on-year.
Customers stated that almost all elements of dining at full-service restaurants have worsened compared to a year ago, and fast food restaurants scored higher than full-service venues for both food quality and accuracy of orders.
The index ranks the major restaurant groups in terms of customer satisfaction performance, giving an average for the smaller and independent restaurants in each category.
Nando’s and Whitbread scored highest among the full-service brands, with Tragus (Café Rouge, Strada and Bella Italia) slipping 3 per cent to 73 and Gondala (ASK, Zizzi, Pizza Express and Byron) a non-mover with the same score.
Restaurant Group (Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito) was the only restaurant group to achieve an improvement in customer satisfaction, rising 3 per cent year-on-year to a score of 73.
Independent full-service restaurants outperformed the branded chains, scoring an average of 76 on the customer satisfaction index.
In the quick-service category, Costa saw satisfaction rise 1 per cent to a score of 77, while coffee rival Starbucks fell 3 per cent to 74.
Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut and KFC), fell 3 per cent to a score of 74, bringing it level with McDonald’s, a non-mover. Burger King was the worst performer on the quick-service satisfaction index, dropping 1 per cent to a score of 71.
Customer satisfaction was highest with the smaller, independent quick-service restaurants, although it still dropped 1 per cent on average to a score of 78.
Price vs quality
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which produces the NCSI-UK using methodology developed at the University of Michigan, warned that UK restaurant chains have become too reliant on vouchers and risk sacrificing customer loyalty by trying to compete on price instead of quality.
“Customer loyalty can be bought or it can be earned,” said ACSI chairman and founder Claes Fornell.
“The latter is usually better for the company in the long run. But rather than focusing on quality and service, many of the major chains are competing on price – which is difficult to do when the competition is fast food.
“And if quick-service restaurants are providing greater diner satisfaction, there is little left for full-service restaurants to compete on.”