When it comes to increasing return visits and consumer referrals, customer service makes all the difference for quick-serve restaurants, according to a new QSR benchmark survey of more than 10,000 consumers on the top 62 QSR brands, conducted by customer experience management solutions provider Empathica.
People were asked to rate food, order accuracy, speed of service, menu, restaurant atmosphere and cleanliness, staff, and value.
One key finding was that customer service factors -- not just speed, but the human element -- have a strong influence on consumers' reported satisfaction, which in turn has a major impact on key performance factors.
The survey found that the likelihood of a return visit to a QSR increases from 20% to 81% when guests report a higher or "top-box" satisfaction rate, and that the most-satisfied guests are four times more likely to recommend a QSR.
Specifically, the rates of those self-reported behaviors are significantly higher among customers who "agree strongly" that a QSR satisfied them on key factors, as compared with those who merely "agree," says Empathica VP of Marketing Bruce Warren.
While most brands receive high marks for food taste, portion and order accuracy, results showed noticeable gaps in customer service areas like staff attitude and restaurant atmosphere. Furthermore, relatively few brands are focused on healthy menu options and staff's menu recommendations to customers.
According to Empathica, this means that many QSR brands are missing a major opportunity to differentiate themselves and drive sales and profits.
“QSRs need to make sure that they are providing a variety of menu options -- including healthy choices -- and going back to the basics in customer service," sums up Gary Edwards, chief customer officer for Empathica. "Greeting a customer when they enter the restaurant, suggesting menu recommendations and making that guest feel like a valued customer should be a priority, alongside providing a great-tasting, quickly served meal.”
Empathica will be releasing more of the study's findings, including brand rankings within QSR categories, in coming installments.
"Waitress and customers" photo from Shutterstock.