When it comes to Chick-fil-A, setting the industry standard is fast becoming a time-honored tradition.
For the eighth consecutive year, Chick-fil-A has been named America’s favorite restaurant, fast food or otherwise, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Restaurant Study 2021-2022.
The study — which described Chick-fil-A’s perpetually high ranking as a “stranglehold on the fast-food industry" — measured customer satisfaction among more than 20,000 randomly selected customers between April 2021 and March 2022.
On a scale of 0 to 100, Chick-fil-A led all restaurants with an unchanged ACSI score of 83.
By comparison, McDonald’s dropped 3% and held onto its last-place ranking with a score of 68.
Several other smaller fast-food restaurants tied Jimmy John’s for second place with a 79, followed by Domino’s (down 3%) and KFC (down 1%) at 78 apiece.
Chipotle, Panera Bread (down 1%), Pizza Hut and Starbucks scored a 77, while Arby’s, Five Guys and Papa John’s dipped to 76.
Meeting somewhere in the middle of the pack were Burger King, Little Caesars and Panda Express at 75; Dairy Queen, Dunkin’ and Sonic at 74, and Wendy’s close behind at 73.
The worst four-performing restaurants were Jack in the Box and Taco Bell at 72, while Popeyes tumbled 3% to 71, leaving only McDonald’s at the bottom of the list.
In addition to fast food, Chick-fil-A also beat out the highest-ranked sit-down restaurants: Longhorn Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse, Cracker Barrel and TGI Fridays.
Following the pandemic, most restaurants were forced to rely more on touchless technology to stay in business, including improving their mobile app quality, which not all were able to do, according to Forrest Morgeson, Director of Research Emeritus at ACSI.
“With fewer resources, smaller chains and independent restaurants are offering apps that aren’t making the grade per customers,” said Morgeson. “In contrast, positive shifts in both mobile app quality and reliability for several larger chains appear to reflect major app updates for these bigger industry players.”
Owned by a devout Baptist family and with a policy of being closed on Sundays, Chick-fil-A has garnered controversy for its leadership’s religious opposition to same-sex marriage and ties to conservative Christian groups.
There have been several instances of local governments or college campuses opting to ban the chicken sandwich chain over their conservative views.
Chick-fil-A has itself often been criticized after its president, Dan Cathy, voiced his opposition to gay marriage in 2012.
The company also had to publicly declare in 2019 that it “remains committed to Christian values" after the fast-food chain’s charity arm decided to no longer donate to three organizations criticized for upholding traditional Christian beliefs on sexuality.
Trudy Cathy White, the daughter of Chick-fil-A's founder S. Truett Cathy and his wife, Jeannette, previously told The Christian Post that the family sees themselves as in the "people business," not just the "chicken business."
"We do appreciate the fact that we feel like God is blessing our business," she told CP. "I don't know that there's really a secret to it. My dad built this business based on biblical principles. He felt like his business decisions kind of go hand in hand with biblical principles. That's no secret. There's a lot of things that we are taught in God's Word and we've been able to put it into practice in our business."
"Above everything, I think at Chick-fil-A we've gotten real clarity of our purpose of why we're in business," she added. "That's been really important to us. Back in the early '80s, we recognized the fact that we didn't have a real clear direction as to why we were in business. But we know today that we're in business to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that's been trusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A. We love selling chicken but we're really more in the people business."