The most popular fast-food restaurants are not always the most satisfying, according to new research.
The study, conducted by market research firm Empathica, found that despite being the most-visited type of quick-service restaurant (QSR), burger chains left customers the least satisfied.
According to the survey results, 60 percent of respondents had visited quick-service burger restaurants in the past 30 days. Sandwich shops, pizza or pasta establishments and chicken restaurants followed burger restaurants in visits in the past month. Coffee shops and Mexican restaurants were visited by one-quarter of respondents, and Asian and seafood quick-service restaurants were visited by just 12 percent of respondents.
However, even though burger restaurants were frequently visited, the visitors were least likely to become repeat customers. Just 42 percent of customers said they were satisfied after going to the restaurants, making them the lowest in terms of customer satisfaction. Sandwich restaurants were the best-performing restaurants for customer satisfaction, followed by coffee shops and Mexican restaurants.
"Overall satisfaction and the likelihood of a recommendation are key to customer loyalty, which is also the key to long-term QSR success," said Gary Edwards, chief customer officer at Empathica. "It is great to get a customer to visit your restaurant, but the ultimate goal should be to provide that customer with a satisfying experience that motivates him or her — and his or her friends — to keep coming back through your doors."
One way restaurants can improve their odds of success is by understanding the demographics of their customers. For instance, the researchers found that men and low-income families were more likely to visit fast-food restaurants.
"Different age groups prefer certain establishments, and knowing which markets are most and least likely to visit your QSR is valuable information for a restaurant," said Edwards. "There are specific groups that a restaurant can rely on to drive traffic to their restaurant, and there are other groups that could be strategically targeted to maximize guest reach."
The research was based on the responses of 10,000 people who visited the top 62 quick-service restaurant brands.