A new report from the National Customer Satisfaction Index indicates that customer satisfaction with restaurants in the United Kingdom is on an upswing. Specifically, limited-service restaurants achieved an all-time high score for customer satisfaction, with 76 points out of 100.
Full-service restaurants' scores increased from 78 in the first quarter 2012, to 80 in the second quarter.
With a score of 78, Subway has the highest customer satisfaction of any restaurant tracked by the NCSI.
Starbucks improves to 75 (from 74 during Q1), while Costa Coffee jumped from 71 to 74.
Within the restaurant category, Burger King showed the most improvement in British customer satisfaction, jumping to 71 from 66 point, and passing McDonald's. Nevertheless, McDonald's improves from 68 to 69, its highest customer satisfaction score to date.
Price promotions in a weak economy
According to the report, limited-service restaurants have continued to benefit from their lower price points in a weak UK economy. However, the full-service category has also gained customer satisfaction points.
"In addition to continued price discounting, many restaurants have introduced new menus and healthier options, and according to customers, overall quality and value-for-money has improved," the report says.
Full-service casual dining brands have attracted consumers with price promotions. However, this strategy could eventually affect customer loyalty.
"Despite having significantly higher customer satisfaction, the largest full-service restaurant chains have no more customer loyalty than fast food outlets do," the report continues.
Smaller restaurant chains and local establishments have the highest customer satisfaction scores in the category.
Among large limited-service brands, Subway, at 78, has the highest score, moving ahead of British chain Greggs, which has held the top spot for the past two years.
Starbucks is up by 1 percent to 75. Yum! Brands has jumped 3 percent to a customer satisfaction score of 73.
Burger Kind experienced the biggest increase of all chains, jumping 8 percent to a score of 71. McDonald's score of 69 is its highest customer satisfaction score to date.
With the UK economy in the middle of a double-dip recession, and the GDP contracting by 0.5 percent during the second quarter, the report indicates that higher levels of consumer demand will be needed to reverse the current economic trends.
The NCSI-UK overall is up 0.2 percent, tracking 15 total industries including e-commerce, automotive, department stores, mobile services, supermarkets and airlines. The methodology for tracking the 0-100 score was developed at the University of Michigan and tracks survey data from more than 6,000 customer evaluations of product and service quality.
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