QSR Customer Service Index 2011

The American Customer Service Index for this year has just been released and a few surprises jump out at me.

For many years Starbucks has been in the decline in store numbers both here in the US and in many other countries around the world with local opposition beating them in both service, price and coffee quality. Some would say that is not a hard thing to do but it seems their customers are happy with their offering, with a 2.6% increase in customer satisfaction over last year. That’s two years in a row of happy customers.

I am also happy to see Pizza Hut finally doing something right and again it is two years of increased customer satisfaction with this year being a whopping 3.8% over last year.

In fact the majority of fast food did quite well in the rankings with McDonalds beating the rest at 7.5% over last year.

The concepts that did not do as well are the ones that you would expect and I am a little sad to see KFC flat this year. They seem to have lost there way a bit recently. I certainly have noticed a downturn in product quality, service and cleanliness recently.

If you are interested in seeing the full list by industry here is how you get there.




McDonald’s Refurb Not So New

Wow, what a lot of fuss over McDonalds new look and new technology. The trade papers have been full of potential color schemes, the lack of primary colors, screens instead of menu boards and a sit back and relax atmosphere. I am amazed at the number of writers that have jumped on the bandwagon to report on these new innovations and turn around in the strategic direction of this company.

Hang on a minute though!!

I am someone that has spent most of my last 20 years in other parts of the world and because some of those places were, shall we say, a little unhygienic, my wife and I were in the habit of visiting McDonald’s on a regular basis. Yep, we used the bathroom but didn’t eat the food. Of course all that changed when we had a child but that is another story.

Now all these visits to McDonald’s over the years has made me a bit of an expert in their décor, products, specials etc. and I will admit that I do use them as a barometer of the maturity of a market that I may have just arrived in. This goes for the more mature western markets as well, McDonalds are very good at taking ideas from their franchisees and making them work. There are always things that are market specific to whatever country you happen to be in that is interesting and sometimes a little bit quirky. Have you ever thought about what they substitute for beef in India?

I kept on getting a feeling of déjà vu as I was reading these articles and came to the realization that this is nothing new for McDonald’s, these changes are not new but a mix of all the things that have been happening around the McDonald’s world for years. McCafe has been around for years and in some parts of the world a relaxing latte in McDonalds has been a regular part of many people’s daily lives. They even have comfortable chairs that make you want to stay and have another coffee.

Many McDonalds have subdued colors in Europe and other regions. Have a look at the store in Alexandria, VA, it has had a subdued décor package for over a decade and there is one in Asheville NC. that has a grand piano!

The menu screens have also been around for years and even my local coffee shop has a couple, so how new is this strategic change in direction? For some countries not new at all would be my guess.




Does Chick-fil-A Care About Their Franchisees?

Chick Fil A franchiseeI have been reading with interest the ongoing saga of Chick-fil-A and the alleged support the company has given to anti gay groups.

Thinking of myself as a reasonable and forward thinking man, I gave serious consideration to giving up Chick-fil-A permanently and confining my fast food chicken experiences to an ex-military gentleman with a penchant for wearing white.

My wife (a woman with far more common sense than I will ever have and a way of looking at things that often baffles me!) suggested that I look back to a time when I also worked for a company with fairly strong religious connections and some similar troubles they created for their franchisees. This reflection brought me to a completely different conclusion.

No matter what the parent company has done, what their background is, what we as consumers must remember is that the owners of the individual franchise stores are not necessarily involved with the religious preaching of the parent company. They are business people working hard to make a living.

If we as consumers boycott Chick-fil-A we will hurt the owners of the individual stores a lot more than the corporate entity. These franchisees have likely put up everything they own to borrow enough to buy their Chick-fil-A store.

The fault for this fiasco should be put squarely on the shoulders of the parent company, its founder and board of directors. How can any reasonable company make a decision that will piss off potentially half of the population of this country while at the same time affecting the livelihood of the people that have invested most and pay them monthly dues. Their franchisees!!

I admit to being impressed with the actions of most of the gay and lesbian groups who are mostly quoted as saying they must look into the situation in it’s entirety before they initiate a boycott. The University of Indiana Southbend had the common sense to look at the individual franchisee delivering sandwiches to the campus and decided that he/she did not necessarily share the sentiment of the parent company and lifted the ban.

If anyone is thinking of protesting Chick-fil-A because of their decision to support questionable groups; rather than a boycott of their restaurants, write letters to the founder and board of directors. Lots of them!! Maybe they will slowly get the idea that it is not 1933 any more, the world has moved on and we are trying to promote tolerance.