Chick-fil-A continues to dominate customer satisfaction rankings as the fast-food chain takes over America

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chick fil aChick-fil-A

  • Chick-fil-A took the top spot in the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s annual report on fast-food chains. 
  • This is the sixth year in a row Chick-fil-A has topped ACSI’s rankings. 
  • Fast-food chains have been forced to find new ways to balance customer satisfaction and safety in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Chick-fil-A beat out rivals in an annual customer satisfaction ranking for the sixth year in a row. 

On Tuesday, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released the results of its annual restaurant report. The ASCI interviewed more than 23,000 customers from April 2019 to March 2020, using customers’ answers to rate national chains on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest satisfaction. 

Chick-fil-A had the highest rating, with a customer satisfaction score of 84. The No. 2 chain was Chipotle, with a score of 80. For comparison, rival chicken chains KFC and Popeyes earned scores of 79 and 74, respectively. 

While Chick-fil-A is still the clear industry leader, its dominance slipped slightly since 2019, with the chain’s score dropping from 86 to 84. 

Over the last year, Chick-fil-A and other fast-food chains have been forced to find new ways to balance customer satisfaction and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With a business model honed over years to allow quick, more frictionless customer experiences through drive-thru lanes and delivery, the fast-food segment is positioned to fare better than sit-down restaurants in a COVID-19 impacted market,” the ACSI wrote in its report. 

Like many fast-food chains, Chick-fil-A closed dining rooms at locations across the US in late March due to the pandemic. As dining rooms reopen, the chain has made changes such as adding outdoor hand-washing stations for workers, plexiglass shields, and removing condiments and flowers from tables. 

Chick-fil-A has topped customer satisfaction rankings for years

chick fil aChick-fil-A 

The chicken chain has topped the ACSI’s fast-food rankings since the group began surveying customers from the chain in 2015. Chick-fil-A is known for its customer service, which has helped the chain become one of the most profitable brands on a per-unit basis in the US. 

“Little things like being told ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ — it feels like you’re appreciated as a customer and a human being at Chick-fil-A,” Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowski told Business Insider last year.

“Especially in today’s very complex world, it’s just very nice to be able to go to a place where you feel appreciated,” Kalinowski added. 

Chick-fil-A’s aggressive vetting of franchisees helps it enforce high standards for customer service and quality. Just 0.15% of people who applied to become Chick-fil-A franchisees in 2018 were granted the right to open a location.

Franchisees undergo many rounds of essay writing and interviews, including some with their spouses. When they are accepted as franchisees, they are typically only allowed to run a single location — unlike most franchised concepts, where franchisees can operate several locations.

Chick-fil-A’s locations are significantly more profitable than many fast-food rivals. A single Chick-fil-A location makes roughly $4.5 million in sales on average. For comparison, the average McDonald’s location makes roughly $2.9 million. 

High average unit volumes have helped Chick-fil-A become the third-largest restaurant chain in the US by sales, according to Technomic. The chicken chain brought in $11.3 billion in sales in 2019, with 2,470 locations in the US — up roughly $1 billion from 2018. 

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