Casual dining wins customers’ satisfaction

Casual dining chains are winning in the customer satisfaction stakes according to new research.

Figures from The NPD Group show that casual dining scores 77% ‘strong overall satisfaction’ to beat branded pubs at 73% and branded QSR at 67%.

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 percentage points since year ending March 2009.

Branded pubs came in at second place (‘strongly satisfied’ in 73% of visits) while quick service restaurant (QSR) chains scored 67%. The figure for branded pubs is 10 percentage points up since year end March 2009, while the QSR rating is 14 percentage points better.

Overall satisfaction:
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. The customer satisfaction survey revealed as follows:

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.’

Why is customer satisfaction important? The British foodservice market has seen five tough years and is now nearly 500 million visits smaller based on year end March 2009. Each month, Britons eat/drink out 16.4 times. This is a decrease of 1.2 visits compared to pre-recession times.

Emma O’brien of Pelican’s foodservice and Hospitality PR team commented: ‘Keeping customer happy is vital to the long-term success of an operation. In particular, many operators have invested in staff training to deliver a better service which makes sense. But other aspects of the customer experience include investing in refurbishment of outlets, improved menus and customer knowledge.’

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