Chick-fil-A leads the nation in drive-thru friendliness and customer satisfaction according to an annual mystery shopper survey, although the score for its wait time either finishes last or first, depending on how it's calculated.
The 22nd Annual Drive-Thru Study by Intouch Insight, in partnership with QSR Magazine, compared customer satisfaction of 10 leading fast-food restaurants, including Chick-fil-A, McDonald's, Wendy's and Taco Bell. The study was based on roughly 1,500 mystery shops across the United States.
Chick-fil-A tied with Carl's Jr. at No. 1 for drive-thru "satisfaction with service," followed by Arby's, Dunkin' and Hardee's.
Chick-fil-A also finished first in drive-thru friendliness, followed by Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Taco Bell and Arby's.
Across all brands, the study found that "orders placed with friendly staff are 15 percent more accurate and over three minutes faster than those with unfriendly associates."
"We've all heard that a smile goes a long way, and in quick service, that certainly rings true. While it stands to logic that happier associates lead to better customer experiences, the true financial and operational impact of unfriendly service is staggering," said Laura Livers, head of strategic growth at Intouch Insight. "With friendliness having declined in the industry, brands who can crack the code on employee satisfaction and training will be able to drive better customer service with diner experience, order accuracy and speed."
But Chick-fil-A's drive-thru service had mixed results for its wait time. It had the slowest total time (509 seconds), which calculates the time the mystery shopper spent in the drive-thru from entering it to receiving their order. Yet when using a per-car average – a formula that takes into account the drive-thru car volume – Chick-fil-A was the fastest (107 seconds), the study said.
Chick-fil-A led all restaurants in "average cars in line" with 4.74, followed by McDonald's (3.48).
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Scott Olson/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.