Casual dining chains beat pubs to top customer satisfaction survey

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Casual dining chains have beaten branded pubs to top a customer satisfaction poll of people eating out in Britain.

Research by The NPD Group found that casual dining chains are winning in the customer satisfaction stakes.

For the year ending March 2015, consumers said they felt ‘strong overall satisfaction’ in 77% of visits to casual dining chains. This means they rated overall experience as either ‘very good’ or excellent’, with this figure representing an increase of 10% since the survey was last conducted in 2009.

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Branded pubs came in at second place with 73% of customers strongly satisfied.

Quick service restaurants were third with satisfaction from 67% of diners.

The NPD Group says ‘overall satisfaction’ is driven by many aspects of a visit to a foodservice outlet, including the quality and taste of food and beverages, the quality of service, ambiance, value for money and whether consumers themselves feel valued.

Its research discovered:

Quality of Service: Branded pubs and QSR chains are strong in ‘quality of service’, chalking up a ‘strong satisfaction’ score in 70% and 64% of all visits respectively. These results are up eight percentage points and 14 percentage points respectively since March 2009.

Speed of service: Some 62% of all visits to branded pubs and 67% to casual dining outlets were considered to be strong in terms of speed of service.

Cleanliness: 72% of consumers gave casual dining outlets a ‘strong satisfaction’ rating for the cleanliness of the restaurant. The figure for branded pubs was 65% while the QSR sector scored 63%.

While all these specific measures within overall satisfaction show that the majority give their visit a ‘strong’ rating, there is room for improvement. At QSR chains, for example, more than one third of visits (36%) do not provide ‘strong’ quality of service. For branded pubs, 38% of visits fail to offer ‘strong’ speed of service and a ‘strong’ level of satisfaction with cleanliness is missing in 35% of visits.

“We believe our data shows that consumers are increasingly demanding and less willing to accept an average experience,” said Cyril Lavenant, NPD’s Director of Foodservice for the UK and France. “They are much more prepared to try new brands, which means attracting and retaining consumers is growingly increasingly difficult for operators.

“The choice of an outlet either for food or beverages is driven less by the need for convenience or by ‘habit’. Consumers are more likely to make decisions based on quality and variety of food, as well as price. Foodservice outlets need to understand those are all parts of creating that sense of ‘overall satisfaction’ if they are to drive footfall.  If you provide great food, but your service does not follow and your outlet is not clean, you are likely to lose customers.”

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