America’s favorite and least favorite fast-food burgers

Burgers are one of America’s favorite foods, but there’s one clear winner among American burger chains, according to a new survey.

Market Force Information, a customer experience management company, conducted a survey of 7,600 American adults to find out their favorite fast-food restaurants — and in the burger category, one reigned supreme.

West Coast darling In-N-Out is tops as America’s overall favorite burger chain for the third straight year, with Five Guys in second place. In-N-Out had the best experience and the highest loyalty among customers.

Participants were asked about their satisfaction levels with their most recent visit and their likelihood to recommend the restaurant to others. The results were then averaged to establish the Composite Loyalty Index score. Only chains that received at least 100 customer responses were analyzed. Participants were also asked about their dining experiences, including delivery services, visit frequency, brand engagement, customer experience and problem experience.

Of the 14 burger chains, Jack in the Box (JACK), Wendy’s (WEN), Carl’s Jr., Burger King (QSR) and McDonald’s (MCD) were ranked the least favorite among customers, with McDonald’s taking last place.

Overall dining at burger restaurants has risen from last year. Thirty-three percent of respondents said that they visited 10 times or more in the past 90 days, which was up from 21% in 2018. But, 25% of survey participants admitted to visiting only once a month or less.

When choosing to eat at a burger joint, 41% prefer to visit a drive through and 39% opt to dine in. Of those that dine in, 86% order at the counter, down from 92% last year and 94% in 2017.

Tech usage rises for dine-in customers at burger restaurants. (Market Force Information)

Tech usage has grown from previous years. Seven percent of dine-in customers ordered at kiosks, up from 4% in 2018 and 3% in 2017. Also, people ordering via tablets grew to 4% this year, up from 1% last year and less than 1% in 2017.

Meanwhile, 18% of customers take out food directly from the restaurant, and 2% get delivery either from the restaurant or through a third-party service.

Assessing the negatives, the number one complaint among customers was long wait times, followed by inaccurate orders — 24% of consumers noted the quality of food or beverage was poor, and 20% said that staff attitude or behavior was an issue.

Though among the restaurants, visitors to In-N-Out had the fewest negative experiences. Both In-N-Out and Five Guys were the best at resolving issues when they arose. McDonald’s, Red Robin and Carl’s Jr. had the highest problem experiences.

Perception of healthiness was low in the burger category. Only 19% of the respondents said that they were satisfied with the availability of healthy food options at their most recent visit. With stiff competition in the fast-food space, healthier food options remains a big opportunity.

Eight dining experience categories. (Market Force Information)

The eight key measures were analyzed and In-N-Out ranked number one in four categories including overall cleanliness, staff friendliness, curb appeal and value for money spent. McDonald’s ranked last place in two categories including staff friendliness and food quality.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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