The coronavirus pandemic has affected many service-industry businesses, with the restaurant industry taking a particulary hard hit. According to a new report, customer satisfaction with full-service and fast-food restaurants was already declining before the pandemic struck. Despite this, one full-service restaurant chain has been able to keep customers pleased: LongHorn Steakhouse.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfation with full-service restaurants dipped below a score of 80 for the second time in ACSI history. And while seven out of 12 full-service chains saw declines, LongHorn Steakhouse remained stable for the third year in a row. The steakhouse has taken over the top spot from last year's industry leader, Texas Roadhouse, while last year's runner-up, Cracker Barrell, fell 4% in customer satisfaction. Both Texas Roadhouse and Cracker Barrel saw their lowest ACSI scores to date.
ACSI's surveys were conducted from April 2019 to March 2020, so this decline in guest satisfaction started prior to the coronavirus pandemic. However, state-by-state coronavirus restrictions have aggravated this trend. According to ACSI, full-service restaurants are seen as less satisfying when it comes to take-out or delivery compared to dine-in.
As coronavirus restrictions ease, restaurants accross the country continue to reopen, although with some significant changes. Wearing masks, social distancing and contactless payment have become the new norm but remain among the biggest pain points for many diners.