This is America's least-liked fast-food chain

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Chick-Fil-A Ranks As America's Favorite Fast Food Restaurant

While the commercials may say "I'm loving it," the survey results say otherwise.

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) placed at the bottom of the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index report (ACSI) (registration required) for limited-service (fast-food and fast-casual) restaurants. To further rub salt in to Ronald McDonald's wounds, the chain also scored lower than any restaurant in the full-service category.

The only positive for the chain may be that while it came in last place as it did in 2015, it did improve its score. In 2015 McDonald's nabbed a 67 on the 100-point scale, down 6% from the previous year. This year the fast-food company climbed to a 69 -- still bad enough to earn the least-liked restaurant title -- but up 3% over the year before.

"Fast casual restaurants like Panera Bread are raising the bar on quality, and we're seeing higher quality industry wide, which is driving the boost in customer satisfaction," ACSI Managing Director David VanAmburg told The Motley Fool in an email. "McDonald's has long been the face of fast food, and it's more challenging for a company with such a massive footprint to change with the times. They're fighting brand fatigue, but seem to have found some traction with their all-day breakfast."

A look at the fast-food industry

While McDonald's continued to bring up the rear, the overall fast-food industry made gains versus full-service restaurants. Overall, the limited-service industry improved its collective rating from a 77 to a 79, a 2.6% gain while full-service dropped dropped 1.2% from an 82 to an 81.

"Americans are now spending more money dining out than shopping for groceries," ACSI Chairman Claes Fornell said in a press release. "Fast food restaurants appear to be capitalizing on this trend more than full-service restaurants, maintaining the lower prices and speedy service that has long defined the industry, while also appealing to health-conscious consumers via more diverse offerings and higher-quality ingredients."

Not all chains associated with higher quality food did well, however, as Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) saw the biggest drop of any restaurant, falling 6% from an 83 to a middle-of-the-pack 78.

"Higher quality drives the improving scores for the industry, but quality issues relating to food-borne illnesses knock down Chipotle," said VanAmburg in the press release. "Just as Netflix's stock took a dive after the singular event of its pricing and Qwikster branding misstep in 2011, Chipotle's stock also has fallen after its food-quality crisis. Netflix rebounded rather quickly, but it can take more time for a restaurant to recover from quality issues."

G

Image source: ACSI.

Customer service is improving

If you consider that the Chipotle drop really reflects a one-time anomaly, overall scores for limited-service restaurants were even more impressive than they appear at first glance. Every chain rated except for Chipotle and Yum! Brands' Pizza Hut posted improved scores in 2016.

And while McDonald's came in last, it is not far behind its hamburger rivals, which all came in below the industry average, but did all show improvement. Restaurant Brands International's Burger King, at 6%, had the biggest increase to tie Wendy's (+4%) at 76.

The ACSI report is based on 4,786 customer surveys collected in March 2016.

Even for McDonald's these are good numbers that show the overall perception of fast food has improved with consumers. This report showed that in some ways (with Chipotle being an exception for a clear reason) a rising tide lifts all boats. McDonald's still has a ways to go to not be America's least-liked restaurant brand, but at least it has its ship sailing in the right direction.

A secret billion-dollar stock opportunity
The world's biggest tech company forgot to show you something, but a few Wall Street analysts and the Fool didn't miss a beat: There's a small company that's powering their brand-new gadgets and the coming revolution in technology. And we think its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors! To be one of them, just click here.

Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. He eats at Chipotle a lot, but almost never visits McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Chipotle Mexican Grill, Netflix, and Panera Bread. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

More from The Motley Fool:
5 Years From Now, You'll Probably Wish You Grabbed These Stocks
Kansas Man Turns $10,000 into $8 Million
Shark Tank Just Revealed a Trillion-Dollar Idea

RELATED: The 10 most expensive burgers in America
11 PHOTOS
10 most expensive burgers in America
See Gallery
10 most expensive burgers in America

What: Fleurburger 5000
Where: Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas, Nevada)
How much: $5,000

Patty consists of Wagyu beef and foie gras, covered in black truffles and truffle sauce in between a truffle bun. Served with a bottle of Bordeaux (estimated at around $2,500) and two Ichendorf glasses as souvenirs.

Photo credit: Facebook

What: The Absolutely Ridiculous Burger
Where: Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar (Southgate, Michigan)
How much: $1,999

Guinness World Record holder for World's Largest Burger; consists of 350 pounds of beef and requires 72 hours of notice for preparation

Photo credit: Facebook

What: 777 Burger
Where: Burger Brasserie (Las Vegas, Nevada)
How much: $777

Kobe beef burger, topped with Maine lobster, foie gras, goat cheese, and 100-year-old aged balsamic. Served with a bottle of Dom Perignon.

Photo credit: Facebook

What: 666 Douche Burger
Where: 666 Burger Trucks (New York, New York)
How much: $666

Kobe beef burger wrapped in gold leaf, topped with lobster, caviar, truffles, foie gras, Gruyere cheese that's melted with champagne steam, and barbecue sauce made from droppings of the Asian Palm Civet

Photo credit: Facebook

What: Le Burger Extravagant
Where: Serendipity3 (New York, New York)
How much: $295

Wagyu beef patty topped with aged cheddar, black truffles, white truffle butter and quail egg served on a white truffle-buttered bun. Held together by a golden diamond-encrusted toothpick.

Photo credit: Facebook

What: B&B Indulgence
Where: Beer & Buns (New York, New York)
How much: $250

Kobe beef patty, topped with seared foie gras, truffles and caviar.

Photo credit: Facebook

What: The Mother Burger
Where: Burger & Beer Joint (South Beach, Florida)
How much: $125

18 pounds in total, 10 pounds of meat and choice of two in-house toppings

Photo credit: Facebook

What: DB “Royale” Double Truffle Burger
Where: DB Bistro Moderne (New York, New York)
How much: $120

Only offered when black truffles are in-season. Ground beef patty stuffed with boneless short ribs, foie gras, root vegetables and black truffles. Topped with a second batch of black truffles.

Photo credit: Facebook

What: Grand Burger
Where: McGuire Irish Pub (Destin, Florida)
How much: $100

Ground beef and filet mignon patty. Served with side of caviar, merlot sauce for topping and a bottle of Moet.

Photo credit: Facebook

What: The O.M.G. Burger
Where: The Catch (Anaheim, California)
How much: $74.99 (can be doubled for another $30.99)

Lean ground chuck beef patty, topped with ten slices of cheddar and remoulade sauce in between a 14-inch bun. Served with 4 pounds of fries.

Photo credit: Facebook

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION
Read Full Story

People are Reading