McDonald's ranked last, again, in an annual ranking of fast food restaurants by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
The bottom ranking has been an annual tradition since the ACSI survey started 20 years ago. In 2014, McDonald's Corp.'s satisfaction score fell nearly 3 percent to 71 from 73 in 2013, according to result released this week.
Yet, the Oak Brook-based chain has made progress over the years and is actually up 13 percent since 1994.
Forrest Morgenson, ACSI's research director, told USA Today that McDonald's has climbed "within striking distance" of the rest of the industry.
"We are always listening to our 27 million customers every day and appreciate hearing feedback from them and other sources as it helps us improve and evolve," said Lisa McComb, McDonald's director of media relations.
Fellow burger purveyors Wendy's and Burger King landed in the bottom half with scores of 78 and 76, respectively.
Pizza chains nabbed the highest favorable ratings among consumers, with Papa John's and Pizza Hut leading the segment with a satisfaction score of 82. Little Caesar's and Domino's Pizza were close behind with scores of 80.
KFC satisfaction plummeted 9 percent to a score of 74. Subway fell 6 percent to a score of 78 while Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts dropped 5 percent to 76 and 75, respectively. Taco Bell dipped 3 percent to a score of 72, despite efforts to reach customers with a new breakfast menu.
Fast food is now a bit further behind the full-service restaurant category, but the industry still matches its all-time ACSI high.
"Strong and stable customer satisfaction is a big change for an industry that was mired in the high 60s to low 70s throughout the 1990s," the ACSI said in its report.
Full-service restaurants gained an average 1.2 percent to an ACSI score of 82 on a 100-point scale, according to the report, but the biggest chains saw drops across the board.
Darden’s Olive Garden brand and Outback Steakhouse, down 1 percent, tie for the top spot at 80. Despite Darden’s efforts to update Olive Garden’s menus and restaurants, diner satisfaction is down 4 percent from a year ago, accompanied by flagging sales.
Applebee’s slid 5 percent to 78 and tied Red Lobster, the full-service chain that deteriorates the most, with a 6 percent drop. Chili’s continued to lag the rest of the industry by a wide margin, falling 5 percent to 74.
The 2014 ACSI Restaurant Report is based on interviews with 4,572 customers, chosen at random and contacted via telephone and email between Jan. 13 and March 11.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun