Report: Top Restaurant Chains for Customer Satisfaction During the Coronavirus Pandemic


Many of America’s favorite restaurant chains have had a tough time during the coronavirus pandemic, but customer satisfaction has not plunged as you might think it would.

A special COVID-19 restaurant study conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) examined how patrons perceive two sectors: fast-food restaurants and full-service eateries.

The surveys for ACSI’s 2020 Restaurant Report ended in March 2020, just as people were starting to change their dining out habits because of the pandemic. The COVID-19 update shows that customers actually gave full-service restaurants slightly higher marks than they did in the 2020 report, and fast-food chains have held their own.

These Restaurants Get High Marks From Customers During the Pandemic

The special study, which scored restaurants on a 100-point scale, is based on surveys collected between April 1 and September 30, 2020.

Here are some key findings:

  • There’s a new #1 among full-service restaurants as Olive Garden unseats Texas Roadhouse. Among fast-food chains, Chick-fil-A holds onto the top spot.
  • Customer satisfaction with fast-food chains overall held steady at 78, while satisfaction rose slightly with full-service restaurants, up 1.3% to a score of 80.

With an ACSI score of 84, Chick-fil-A continues its six-year streak at #1. Meanwhile, nine fast-food brands saw customer satisfaction dip amid the pandemic.

Let’s take a look at which fast-food restaurants satisfied customers the most.

Top Fast Food Restaurants During the Pandemic

Fast-Food RestaurantACSI Score: April-September 2020% Change From April 2019-March 2020 Report
KFC (Yum Brands)790%
Pizza Hut (Yum Brands)793%
Chipotle Mexican Grill78-3%
Arby’s (Inspire Brands)77-3%
Burger King (RBI)771%
Panera Bread77-3%
Papa John’s77-1%
Fast-Food Restaurants (Average)780.0%

According to customers, full-service restaurants got high marks overall for staff courtesy, order accuracy, service speed, and mobile app reliability.

Full-service restaurants also made gains in ratings for their delivery and takeout services, two things that have experienced broad growth this year as people try to make their lives as contact-free as possible.

“Full-service restaurants showed tremendous adaptability by how quickly they pivoted from traditional dine-in to takeout and delivery options,” said ACSI Managing Director David VanAmburg in a news release.

According to customers, these full-service restaurants have proved to be the best during the pandemic.


Top Full-Service Restaurants During the Pandemic

Full-Service Food RestaurantACSI Score: April-September 2020% Change From April 2019-March 2020 Report
Olive Garden (Darden)801%
Texas Roadhouse800%
TGI Fridays791%
Cracker Barrel78-1%
Longhorn Steakhouse (Darden)78-4%
Outback Steakhouse780%
Red Robin783%
Full-Service Restaurants (Average)801.3%

Read ACSI’s complete COVID-19 Restaurant Study.

“Given the shutdowns and setbacks, it’s pretty remarkable the restaurant industry was able to meet the customer demand, and in many cases, go above and beyond,” VanAmburg added. “As the industry becomes even more digitized, restaurants’ ability to evolve with the times should only benefit them moving forward.” 

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