Chick-fil-A has once again claimed the crown as the chain with the best customer satisfaction score in the fast-food industry.
On Tuesday, Chick-fil-A claimed the No. 1 spot on American Customer Satisfaction Index’s annual restaurant report for the fourth year in a row. Chick-fil-A earned 86 out of a possible 100 points, beating chains such as Panera Bread and Chipotle.
Chick-fil-A’s fans rave about the chain’s customer service, polite employees, and cleanliness, with Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowski saying that Chick-fil-A’s unfailing hospitality is a huge part of the chain’s success.
“Little things like being told ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ — it feels like you’re appreciated as a customer and a human being at Chick-fil-A,” Kalinowski told Business Insider. “And especially in today’s very complex world, it’s just very nice to be able to go to a place where you feel appreciated.”
Customer satisfaction translates to fast-food dominance
Chick-fil-A is dominating the fast-food industry. The chain is now the third-largest in the US by sales, with $10.46 billion in American systemwide sales, according to Nation’s Restaurant News analysis.
Read more: Chick-fil-A is now the 3rd-largest restaurant chain in America, and McDonald’s and Starbucks should be terrified
The chain’s unique business model allows Chick-fil-A to tightly control its high standards in locations. The company accepts just 0.4% of people who apply to open Chick-fil-A locations, one of the most selective chains in the industry. Operators are typically restricted to only opening a single location, a rarity in fast food where many franchisees have dozens of locations.
“Chick-fil-A has a dedicated group of owner/operators that passed a very extensive interview process and training regimen to become franchisees,” said John Hamburger, the president of Franchise Times.
“Because they only operate one store … they are in the stores tending to guests,” Hamburger continued. “They also have an ownership mentality, much more than the general managers of the large multi-unit franchisees.”
Chick-fil-A has developed specific standards to guarantee that locations across the US maintain the same level of quality and customer service. Quirks such as workers saying “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome,” placing flowers on tables, and offering free food are all part of Chick-fil-A’s game plan to keep its No. 1 spot when it comes to customer service.
“We have this really … generous approach to our guests and we want them to feel restored and cared for — not necessarily that it’s like home for them, but it feels warm and inviting and that they want to come back and they want to spend time there,” Khalilah Cooper, Chick-fil-A’s director of service and hospitality, told Business Insider in May.