Here's why Chick-fil-A leads rivals in customer satisfaction

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When it comes to order accuracy, food quality and overall customer service, Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A leads the competition, according to a new fast-food restaurant survey.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that while fast-food restaurants overall are losing ground in pleasing their clientele, Chick-fil-A scored highest on its 100-point scale with an 86.

Chick-fil-A’s score was higher than the industry’s average score of 77, which is down nearly 4 percent from the previous survey and is the lowest average score in five years.

The ACSI report is based on 5,023 customer surveys collected in the first quarter of 2015.

Chick-fil-A was followed by Chipotle Mexican Grill (with a score of 83), Panera Bread (80), and Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, and Dunkin’ Donuts (78).

Consumers continue to be least satisfied with McDonald’s (67), Burger King (72), KFC (73), and Wendy’s (73).

The ACSI report said McDonald’s lower score, down 6 percent from the previous survey, put pressure on the industry’s overall score because of the chain’s dominance.

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ACSI said consumers are opting for quality over price as the economy improves. Fast casual restaurants, which offer higher-quality ingredients and quick service at a reasonable price, are benefiting more than traditional fast-food outlets.

Service at many chains also is suffering from a shortage of dedicated workers, according to Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder.

“Restaurants are finding it harder to hire and retain qualified and motivated workers, which can have an adverse impact on service quality,” Fornell said in the report.

The ACSI report said Chick-fil-A, which is now the largest chicken sandwich chain, having surpassed KFC, also bested competitors in restaurant layout and cleanliness, staff courteousness, beverage variety, checkout speed and website satisfaction.

Chick-fil-A, a multi-billion dollar company, was founded in Hapeville, Georgia, in 1946 by S. Truett Cathy, who died last September at 93.

The chain, known for its boneless chicken sandwiches, continues to close on Sunday, adhering to Cathy's Christian principle of allowing workers a day of rest. In recent years the chain has been at the center of the national debate over gay marriages.

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