QSRs trumped by casual, fast casual brands on customer-centric list

June 14, 2013

dunnhumby, a customer science company, released its inaugural Customer Centricity Index (CCI), measuring how well retailers are responding to the needs and wants of their customers. The index weighs customers' perceptions of retailers against seven primary business areas.

dunnhumby's CCI report included three restaurant categories: Casual dining, fast casual and fast food. Outback Steakhouse and Panera Bread score at the top of the Food Service Retail ranking overall as well as within their respective categories.

The top ranked QSR, Chick-Fil-A, came in at No. 7 on the overall ranking. The only other QSR to make the top 10 was In-N-Out Burger, at No. 8.

The top 10 includes:

  1. Outback Steakhouse
  2. Panera Bread
  3. Texas Roadhouse
  4. Olive Garden
  5. Chili's
  6. Red Lobster
  7. Chick-fil-A
  8. In-N-Out Burger
  9. Cracker Barrel
  10. Applebee's

In its analysis, dunnhumby found that companies with higher CCI scores also tended to have higher long-term comparable sales growth over a 2-year period.

"Restaurants face more operational challenges in becoming customer-centric organizations than other categories of retail as franchise models often make it difficult to consistently deliver the same customer experience across outlets and, ultimately, build long-term loyalty with customers," said Euan White, senior vice president, Consumer Markets, dunnhumbyUSA. "Our research shows that customer centricity is a key indicator of business health and potential for growth. It also shows that food retailers that understand what drives a customer to their brand are leveraging that insight to differentiate themselves from the competition and drive sales."

White added that retailers need to evaluate their business strategy in terms of what matters most to customers, or the "Seven Pillars of Customer Centricity." They include experience, loyalty, communications, assortment, promotions, price and feedback.

"By analyzing customers' perceptions of retailers against these pillars, retailers have a blueprint for customer-centric activation to drive customer loyalty," he said.

More than 100 foodservice retailers were rated by their customers via an online survey over a nine-month period and were asked to rate each retailer on 40-plus customer-centric attributes based on those seven attributes. Respondents were classified as customers of a retailer based on trips occurring at the retailer in the past three months.

Other findings from the dunnhumby Food Service CCI include:

  • A strong customer experience, personalized communications and a tailored assortment mix that meet customer needs had the strongest impact on customer centricity and higher CCI scores/rankings.
  • Across all food service categories, price was important to customers but was less about "lowest price" and more heavily tied to perceived value. For example, Outback Steakhouse's CCI score for price was slightly higher than competitors with a similar or lower price point. This indicates that Outback customers perceive a stronger value for their purchases than at competitive restaurants.
  • Casual dining and fast casual retailers were rated higher than QSRs by customers in terms of experience and opportunities for them to give feedback and interact with the company.

Read more about restaurant trends.

Topics: Customer Service / Experience , Trends / Statistics

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