The University of Michigan’s latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index is out today and there are some surprisingly pleased consumers out there. Even airlines and hospitals are enjoying an up year.
Fast food, which has been climbing steadily since the mid 1990s, tied last year’s record high customer satisfaction figures “Overall they’ve done quite well in matching what they have, including price, to what a growing percentage of the population want,” says Claes Fornell, head of the index.
Of course some have done better than others. The key factor for chains that did well, explains Fornell, is the measurement that the survey is finding to be most important to consumers across all categories: value for the money. That’s not just low prices, but also a sense you’ve gotten what you paid for.
McDonald’s, with simple innovations like better coffee, does well by that measure these days. The burger giant was rewarded with a 1.4% climb last year to a score of 70. That’s better than both Kentucky Fried Chicken, which dropped 1.4%, and Burger King, which fell 2.8%, the biggest drop in the group. Burger King was late to recognize the consumer’s value focus.
Traditionally, Fornell explains, McDonald’s always had one of the lowest customer service rankings. They didn’t need to be tops at customer service because they could compete on price, convenience and standardization. This is the first time, he notes, the Golden Arches has beaten out BK or KFC, and he credits innovations on the menu. “They keep putting out new combinations, trying new things, and right now it’s working.”
How can you manage smarter? Bloomberg Businessweek contributors synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.