Peachtree Corners, GA. March 4, 2020 — Every year Market Force Information® studies the top multi-unit brands across several industries to uncover the best of the best. Through Market Force’s unique approach to analytics, they determine what matters most to consumers and how top brands compare across several dimensions of the customer experience. For Market Force clients, this expertise is then applied in combination with technology and data science to provide guidance that helps brands improve their sales, profitability, and appeal to consumers. This unique capability has been recognized by industry analysts and is applied by global brands to deliver continuous performance improvement.

Market Force Casual Dining Review 2019
According to Market Force data, the casual dining sector appears to be hitting a plateau, with constant or declining customer satisfaction levels in nearly every category vs. their performance in the 2018 study. Creating the perfect environment for innovative brands to capture market share, putting pressure on mature players. According to the latest restaurant industry study, there is a new leader in Casual Dining! First Watch has been selected as America’s new favorite restaurant brand. Further, National Restaurant News data shows the corresponding financial impact of industry leadership with First Watch posting year over year growth of 33.04% as compared to the prior year’s growth of 30.83%, a tremendous accomplishment.

The annual study of nearly 6,600 consumers reveals diner’s favorite casual dining restaurants in seven categories including Breakfast, Buffet, Italian, Pizza, Seafood, and Steakhouse. For an in-depth review of the study in its entirety, please get in touch to learn more.

Winners and Losers
The hottest category, in terms of customer satisfaction and loyalty, continues to be Steakhouses with a composite loyalty index (CLI) score of 56.65%. Steakhouses continue to lead the way, while restaurants offering general menu and buffet offerings struggle to delight consumers. With a difference of nearly 14% on the rating scale, the Steakhouse is 32% higher than the CLI score for the lowest-performing category of General Menu.

At the top of the Steakhouse leaderboard is Texas Roadhouse featuring a repeat victory. In an interview with Scott Griffith, Market Force’s SVP of Global Innovation, he cited that “From an operations perspective, they are one of the few brands who have been able to execute a platform of hospitality consistently. With special touches such as using customer names, engaging in conversation, and truly getting to know patrons, they have developed a leading service platform. This platform led to a unique advantaged position, from a customer experience perspective, helping to deliver 9.55% sales growth year over year.”
The reality is that top-performing brands understand the importance of customer experience better than their rivals do. This understanding paired with customer experience management systems and processes (that include the following: employee engagement and recognition with compensation programs, customer surveys and support with loyalty programs, mystery shopping, social media monitoring, and internal audits), ensure guest satisfaction is measured from every angle. With a solid foundation of data to measure execution at the front lines, brands that are successful at delivering consistent guest experiences earn trust from diners leading to brand loyalty and repeat visits.

According to Scott Griffith, “Exceptional brands also tend to have exceptional cultures with an emphasis on people and performance at their core. Companies that are seeing remarkable success today are better at hiring, training, managing, rewarding, and firing when necessary than their peers. They become talent magnets while their peers struggle to find quality employees.”

Brands that struggle with front-line execution also tend to struggle with sales growth as they lose market share to more disciplined competitors. To compensate for lost market share, struggling brands may turn their focus to advertising and discounting practices to bring customers in, only to disappoint them with a second-rate customer experience, lack-luster food quality, and dirty aging facilities. A financially risky game to play! Brands that neglect improving front-line execution remain at risk of further margin erosion, whereas merely focusing on operational performance can be a far more effective path to sustainable organic growth.

This challenge is precisely what Market Force addresses with its global clientele. According to Brad Christian, the company’s Chief Customer Officer, “The first step in delivering consistency is an accurate assessment of reality so that brands can create a strategy based on the priorities that are most likely to influence their financial performance.”

By executing industry-focused annual competitive research studies, Market Force provides industry executives with an objective consumer perspective on their brand’s ability to perform across critical dimensions of the customer experience. With a true education in market perception, it becomes easier for industry leaders to allocate dollars appropriately for operations and marketing initiatives to optimize the performance of their respective businesses.

The Top 4 Brands Were Category Winners in Their Respective Categories
1. First Watch dominated the breakfast category creating a massive gap between themselves and the competition. Not only winning breakfast, First Watch claimed the top overall ranking in Market Force’s 2019 Casual Dining Study.

2. Pappadeaux dominated the seafood category with a CLI of 64%, 8 points above the next highest ranked, BoneFish with a 56% CLI.

3. Texas Roadhouse won top honors in the Steakhouse category with a CLI of 61% due to its outstanding service platform delivering the trifecta of friendly, fast, and experiential service.

4. MOD Pizza and Mellow Mushroom were neck and neck in the pizza category with CLIs of 59.8% and 59.7%, respectively. In 2019, MOD held on to the top spot but fell significantly from its 2018 position of dominance. Rapid growth is the most likely culprit as they were the fastest-growing brand in our study, with 44.7% sales growth year over year, as reported by National Restaurant News.

The Biggest Movers
The top three brands that changed their stars to improve CLI scores significantly were California Pizza Kitchen moving up 13%, Pizza Hut for their buffet offering at plus 11%, and First Watch with a 10% gain over 2018 results. Brands that experienced challenges included MOD pizza with a 16% slip, Cracker Barrel down 11%, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen that experienced a 9% drop, in comparison to 2018 results.

Significant changes in performance validate the industry’s sensitivity to fluctuations in execution across key food dimensions like quality, service, and facilities. Mature brands that drive positive change are rewarded for improvements, while up and coming stars often lose their way under the pressures of growth and expansion. First Watch continues to post impressive numbers with growth at 33%+, and California Pizza Kitchen and Pizza Hut both transitioned from negative to positive sales growth in 2019. They are demonstrating that improving customer experience can precipitate continued growth and a progressive turnaround.

To develop the list of brand rankings, Market Force asked survey participants to rate their last experience at a casual dining chain and their likelihood to recommend it to others. That data was averaged to evaluate each brand on an aggregation of the two measures creating the Composite Loyalty Index (CLI). Only brands that received 100 or more reviews were included in the rankings.

Survey Demographics
The survey was conducted online in November 2019 across the United States. The pool of 6,598 respondents represented a cross-section of the four Census regions and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 58% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondent ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 73% were female, 26% were male, and 1% preferred not to answer.
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

2020 Casual Dining Competitive Study eBook

There is a clear connection between customer sentiment and brand success and the brands that execute with precision while expanding, are reaping rewards. Download the eBook to find out what Casual Dining restaurants came out on top in our latest study!
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2019 QSR/Fast Casual eBook

Learn what the QSR/Fast Casual industry's top trends for success.

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Does Corporate Responsibility Really Matter?

How important is it to you that a company your purchase from is socially responsible? Important enough for you to pay a little extra for the product or service? Would you refrain from purchasing from a brand that supports a cause you are opposed to?

Marketing research data collection company Focus Pointe Global (FPG), in collaboration with customer experience management company Market Force Information, recently posed these questions and more to members of the FPG QualPanel® on the subject of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Corporate Social Responsibility is a term used to describe a company's efforts to improve society in some way. These efforts can range from donating money to charitable causes to implementing environmentally-friendly policies in the workplace. CSR is about how companies manage their business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society.

We live in a world where social responsibility is an important deciding factor in where consumers spend their money. Understanding the impact they have on the world around them has never been more important for corporations and their customers. According to the study, CSR benefits employees, businesses, nonprofits, and society alike. 

For employees, having a sense of pride in the company they work for produces more engaged workers who are more likely to exhibit cooperative behaviors toward coworkers and be more committed to the company.

For businesses, incorporating CSR into their business strategy builds brand recognition and customer loyalty, achieves cost savings through reducing waste and resources, attracts positive media attention, helps to find and keep top talent, and improves employee satisfaction and morale, to name a few.

For non-profits, CSR initiatives provide much-needed support that extends beyond individual donors.

For society, CSR gives back and helps to find solutions to everyday issues - locally, nationally, and globally.

So how did our respondents weigh in on the subject of CSR and the influence it has on their purchasing habits? Below are the key takeaways:

Does promoting corporate responsibility matter?
Yes!  Even though price, quality, and convenience are the top influencers of purchase decisions, over 3 in 4 consumers claim they’re more likely to purchase from brands that are socially responsible. And nearly half claim they would refrain from purchasing brands that support or are opposed to specific causes.  Implementing corporate responsibility initiatives can give a competitive advantage to brands that highly compete on price, quality, and convenience.

For which consumers does corporate responsibility matter the most?
Overall, women tend to place more importance on corporate responsibility compared to men (x% vs. y%).  In addition to willingness to pay a little more for products offered by brands who support these issues, women also tend to refrain from purchasing from brands that support issues women oppose.  And refraining also increases as age increases.

What types of corporate responsibility matter most to consumers?
Women tend to support societal and environmental issues.  And social causes tend to become more important as age increases, while workplace green processes tend to decrease with age.  The Late Gen Z / Millennial generation tend to put slightly more importance on environmental issues.  Brands that deeply understand their consumers have the advantage to identify corporate responsibility initiatives to attract new customers and strengthen loyalty.

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Laura Livers is Chief Executive Officer of Focus Pointe Global, which provides high-quality marketing research data collection services by leveraging new techniques and technologies to make market insights more accessible, accurate, and affordable. Under Laura’s leadership, FPG has expanded its service offerings by incorporating accepted methodologies with emerging digital solutions.

Laura has 33 years of experience partnering with Fortune 500 companies in the marketing research arena. Prior to joining FPG in 2009, Laura was president of mystery shopping firm Shop ‘n Chek Worldwide.

In-N-Out is favorite for burgers, Jersey Mike’s makes comeback in sandwich category

Peachtree Corners, Ga., Aug. 6, 2019 — A new, large-scale consumer study conducted by Market Force Information (Market Force) reveals America’s favorite quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains in seven popular food categories: burgers, sandwiches, Mexican, pizza, chicken, coffee and bakery, and frozen dessert and smoothie. The study found In-N-Out is still America’s favorite burger chain, while Jersey Mike’s ranked tops for sandwiches, Chipotle for Mexican food, Blaze for pizza, Chick-fil-A for chicken, Krispy Kreme for coffee and bakery, and Culver’s for frozen dessert and smoothie. Chick-fil-A earned the highest scores across all categories, making it America’s favorite QSR overall.

More than 7,600 consumers were polled for the study, which ranks the brands on two factors –consumers’ satisfaction levels with their most recent visit and their likelihood to recommend the restaurant to others. The study also uncovers consumers’ QSR dining habits, brand preferences, delivery trends and in-restaurant technology use. 

Burgers: In-N-Out Burger’s Reign Remains
In-N-Out Burger – a West Coast chain with a cult following – ranked No. 1 among burger chains in Market Force’s 2019 QSR study for the third consecutive year with a 73% score, followed by Five Guys in second place with 68% and Culver’s a close third with 67%. Carl’s Jr., Burger King and McDonald’s ranked lowest among the 14 burger chains studied, with McDonald’s coming in a full 45 percentage points below In-N-Out. [See Graph 1]. 

Graph 1: Favorite QSR Burger Chains

In-N-Out Loses Ground in Customer Experience Rankings
Market Force also asked diners to rank the burger chains on eight customer experience categories, including value, food quality, service speed, staff friendliness, cleanliness, atmosphere, healthy options and curb appeal. In-N-Out performed well, earning the top spot for value, staff friendliness, cleanliness and curb appeal, but was unseated this year by Five Guys for atmosphere, food quality and service speed. It was also bested by Smashburger in the healthy options category. On the flip side, McDonald’s found itself at the bottom for both food quality and friendly service. [See Graph 2.]  

Graph 2 – Favorite QSR Burger Chains Ranked by Customer Experience Attributes

Sandwiches: Jersey Mike’s Unseats Wawa as Sandwich Favorite  
While revered convenience store Wawa nabbed the sandwich top spot in 2018, Jersey Mike’s moved up from third place this year to outscore second-place Firehouse Subs and both Wawa and Jimmy John’s, which tied for third. Panera Bread, Arby’s and Subway again landed in the bottom three spots. [See Graph 3].

Graph 3 – Favorite QSR Sandwich Chains

Sandwich Chains Run Gamut in Customer Experience Rankings
No single brand dominated across the eight customer experience attributes that Market Force studied, though Panera took the top spot in two – healthy options and atmosphere – but scored poorly on value for money spent. Jersey Mike’s came out on top for food quality and staff friendliness, while Jimmy John’s, Firehouse Subs and Wawa ranked highest for service speed, cleanliness and value, respectively. Arby’s, Subway and Panera all made an appearance in the bottom slot, with Subway doing so four times. [See Graph 4]. 

Graph 4: Favorite QSR Sandwich Chains Ranked by Attributes

Mexican: Chipotle Lands at Top, Taco Bell at Bottom
Chipotle ranked first in the Mexican food category for the third straight year, ahead of second-place Moe’s Southwest Grill and third-place El Pollo Loco. Qdoba, which ranked third in Market Force’s 2018 study, failed to receive enough votes to make the rankings this year. Del Taco was fourth and Taco Bell was once again ranked lowest of the chains studied, with a score that trailed Chipotle by 21 percentage points. [See Graph 5].

Graph 5: Favorite QSR Mexican Chains

Chipotle Is Tastiest and Cleanest
Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill battled it out across the categories, with Chipotle winning for food and Moe’s for service. Del Taco was the value leader - an area where Chipotle lagged. Taco Bell and Del Taco ranked toward the bottom in most categories. [See Graph 6.]

Graph 6: Favorite QSR Mexican Chains Ranked by Attributes

Pizza: Blaze Pizza Is Big Cheese Among Diners
Blaze Pizza, a Pasadena, Calif.-based chain of more than 300 restaurants in 42 states and five countries, nabbed the No. 1 spot in the pizza category, followed closely by Papa Murphy’s in second and Marco’s Pizza in third. The three brands scored far ahead of Papa John’s and Pizza Hut, which tied for fifth, while Little Caesar’s landed at the bottom. Pizza Ranch failed to receive enough votes to make the list after placing first in 2018. [See Graph 7]. 

Graph 7: Favorite QSR Pizza Chains

Papa Murphy’s, Blaze Pizza Excel in Customer Experience
Papa Murphy’s and Blaze Pizza led in every customer experience category except staff friendliness, which went to Marco’s. Papa Murphy’s was No. 1 in the key food quality and value categories, while Blaze Pizza was a clear winner in atmosphere, curb appeal and healthy options, and tied for first with Marco’s for its speed of service. Marco’s performed well, landing in the top three in every area except value. [See Graph 8]. 

Graph 8: Favorite QSR Pizza Chains Ranked by Customer Experience Attributes

Chicken: Chick-fil-A Rules Roost for Fifth Consecutive Year
Consumers continue to crave chicken, and Chick-fil-A continues to deliver, ranking as America’s favorite chicken chain for the fifth straight year with a 79% score – neck and neck with Raising Cane’s, which ranked second at 78%. Zaxby’s rounded out the top three with a score of 60%. KFC and Church’s Chicken landed at the bottom of the seven chains studied. [See Graph 9].

Graph 9 – Favorite QSR Chicken Chains

Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s Fly High in Customer Experience
Chick-fil-A was the overall winner for good reason, as the chicken chain outscored others in every category except atmosphere, an area that Raising Cane’s won out. Raising Cane’s performed well across the board, landing in the No. 2 spot for six of the eight categories, and El Pollo Loco placed in the top three for three categories. Church’s Chicken and KFC were last or second-to-last in every category, with Church’s Chicken ranking significantly behind the leaders in healthy options, cleanliness and atmosphere. [See Graph 10]. 

Graph 10: Favorite QSR Chicken Chains Ranked by Attributes

Coffee and Bakery: Krispy Kreme Reigns Supreme
In the coffee and bakery category, Krispy Kreme was the clear favorite with a score of 64%, followed by Panera at 60% and Starbucks at 55%. Dunkin’ Donuts brought up the rear with a score of 48%. [See Graph 11].

Graph 11 – Favorite QSR Coffee and Bakery Chains

Panera, Krispy Kreme Dominate Customer Experience Categories
Of the eight customer experience categories studied, Krispy Kreme came in at No. 1 for half, including food quality, value, cleanliness and service speed. Panera edged out Starbucks for staff friendliness, and was also lauded for its healthy options, atmosphere and curb appeal. Starbucks was in the top three for every category except value, where it ranked last with nearly 20 percentage points less than top-ranked Krispy Kreme. [See Graph 12].

Graph 12: Favorite Coffee and Bakery QSR Chains

Frozen Dessert and Smoothie: Culver’s Scoops Top Spot
In the frozen dessert and smoothie category, Culver’s was the favorite, followed by Cold Stone Creamery, Baskin-Robbins and Dairy Queen. [See Graph 13]. 

Graph 13: Favorite Frozen Dessert and Smoothie QSR Chains

Culver’s Leads in Most Customer Experience Categories
Of the eight customer experience categories studied, Culver’s came in No. 1 for six, including staff friendliness, cleanliness, atmosphere, service speed, curb appeal and value. Cold Stone Creamery was found to have the best food quality. Dairy Queen trailed in six categories, and Baskin-Robbins in the other two. [See Graph 14]. 

Graph 14: Favorite QSR Frozen Dessert and Smoothie Chains Ranked by Attributes

For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent QSR experience, and their likelihood to refer that restaurant to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Index score. Only chains that received at least 100 consumer responses and representing 2% or more of responses were analyzed. 

The survey was conducted online in May 2019 across the United States. The pool of 7,668 respondents represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions. Fifty-four percent reported household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 71% were women and 29% were men. 
For more information on Market Force’s services for the restaurant industry, visit

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online at


Date: Tuesday, August 6, 2019

eBook: 2018 Casual Dining Study

In November 2018 we surveyed more than 6700 US consumers and asked them about their casual dining habits in seven restaurant categories. We looked at brand preference, visit frequency, brand engagement, customer experience and social media usage. Find out which multi-location restaurants maintained their ranking, which brands improved from last year, and which brands fell.

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Market Force study on Casual Dining favorites

Blaze Pizza and First Watch threatening bigger players

Peachtree Corners, Ga., Jan. 23, 2019 — The casual dining sector appears to be rebounding, with higher customer satisfaction levels in nearly every category, and innovative chains putting serious heat on larger brands, according to a new restaurant industry study by Market Force Information® (Market Force). The annual study of more than 6,700 consumers also reveals America’s favorite casual dining restaurants in seven categories, including general menu, pizza, breakfast, steakhouse, Italian and seafood.

Maggiano’s Takes First Overall

Across all categories studied, Maggiano’s received the highest score on Market Force’s Composite Loyalty Index (CLI) with 64%. Texas Roadhouse was a close second with 63%, First Watch and Cracker Barrel tied for third with 58%, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen was fourth with 57%. Last year’s winner, Bonefish Grill, fell four spots to tie for fifth alongside Longhorn Steakhouse and Blaze Pizza.

Graph 1: Favorite Overall Casual Dining Chains

General Menu Chain Visits Up, Cracker Barrel Leads Category

General menu restaurants are bringing more repeat guests through the door, an aspiration for most casual dining chains looking to boost sales. Eighty-six percent of those polled had dined at a general menu restaurant in the past 90 days, up from 79% who did so in 2017, the largest increase of any category.

For the most part, every chain in this category is succeeding at delighting guests. Satisfaction scores for nearly all of the general menu chains studied went up significantly over the previous year. Cracker Barrel gained a sizable 12 percentage points to overtake Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen for the No. 1 spot, and it ranked first for friendly service and atmosphere. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen ranked second on the CLI and led in food quality, fast service and value. BJ’s Brewhouse, which saw an 11 percentage point lift, ranked third. Hooter’s also stood out for increasing its score by 12 percentage points over 2017, and ranking highest for delivering an experience, rather than just a transaction.

Graph 2

Graph 3


“Stats show that casual dining hasn’t suffered the same sales slump as the fast casual sector, but they’re not completely out of the woods,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer for Market Force. “To continue same-store sales growth, casual dining chains rely on repeat visits from loyal guests, particularly since they’re more expensive than fast casual and QSR. These brands should be looking at options such as third-party delivery services, additional promotions and simplifying the ordering process with tablets to continue their strong returns.”

Could Breakfast Be Casual Dining’s New Darling?

Breakfast and daytime-only restaurant chains are enjoying growing popularity, and First Watch is a prime example. The chain, which boasts fresh, custom-made foods appeared in Market Force’s study for the first time, and captured the top spot in the breakfast category with a CLI score of 58%. It dominated in areas such as quality and healthy food, although it ranked last for value. Bob Evans landed in second place with 51%, and Waffle House was third with 49%. Meanwhile, Village Inn, the 2017 category leader, dropped eight percentage points on the CLI to rank sixth and barely edge out last-ranked Denny’s.

Graph 4

Graph 5

Blaze Pizza on Fire, Mellow Mushroom Pysched

Pizza is another category that saw a shake-up in the 2018 study, with Blaze Pizza and Mellow Mushroom both joining the rankings for the first time and taking the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively. The newcomers bested third-place Pizza Hut and fourth-place California Pizza Kitchen. Blaze Pizza, which has a made-to-order approach and saw its sales skyrocket to $279 million in 2017, dominated in important areas such as fast service, value and healthy options.

Graph 6

Graph 7

Texas Roadhouse Wins Battle of Beef

For the fourth consecutive year, Texas Roadhouse has been named America’s favorite steakhouse chain, earning a 63% score, up from 57% in 2017. Longhorn Steakhouse received a 56% to again land in second place, while Outback Steakhouse ranked third with 50% and Logan’s Roadhouse ranked fourth with 47%. Texas Roadhouse had generous leads in value and service, while Outback was found to offer the healthiest choices.

Maggiano’s Five-Peats in Italian Category

Overall CLI winner Maggiano’s also scored first in the Italian category for the fifth year running with a score of 64%, a four percentage point increase from the previous study. Carrabba’s ranked second with 54% and Olive Garden was third with 50%. Maggiano’s was found to have the best food and best value, which can be a difficult but critical balance to achieve in casual dining segment.

Golden Corral Lassoes Lead Among Buffet Chains

Growth in the buffet sector has been stagnant, with just 24% of respondents dining at a buffet chain in the past 90 days – the same as in 2017. Golden Corral was the clear leader among the three chains studied, followed by Cici’s Pizza and Pizza Hut. Additionally, Golden Corral led by a large margin in categories such as variety and healthy options, although Cici’s was found to be the value leader.

Seafood Remains Sluggish

Seafood restaurants also failed to increase visitors over the previous year and, in fact, has the fewest visits of any category in this study. Bonefish Grill managed to garner a first place finish with a CLI score of 56%, despite dropping 12 percentage points from the previous study. It barely edged out Pappadeaux, which earned 55%, and Red Lobster came in third with 48%. Bonefish Grill scored exceptionally high for its atmosphere and cleanliness, as well as for food, an area where Red Lobster trailed considerably. 

Apps Gaining Influence, While Tablets Falling Short

The number of restaurant apps continues to grow, as does adoption among all age groups. In 2018, 54% said they downloaded a restaurant app, a 13% increase from 2016 when just 41% had done so. Restaurant-branded apps are the most downloaded, followed by Groupon, Yelp and Grubhub. Two-thirds of consumers polled are using them to view the menu, 59% to find discounts and just 54% to place orders. [See Graph 8]. Of the top apps, Yelp is most likely to impact restaurant choice, although Grubhub and UberEATS is where consumers go most frequently to post positive or negative comments about their dining experience.

Graph 8: Most Popular Uses for Restaurant Apps

The study also found that between seven to 12% of consumers are consulting social media reviews before dining at a specific restaurant – those dining at breakfast and Italian chains are checking them less often, while general menu diners are checking them most often. Yelp and Facebook are far and away the most popular social channels for reading reviews prior to dining.

Tabletop tablet adoption in casual dining restaurants remains lackluster, despite guests’ willingness to use them. Fifty-four percent (a drop from 58% in 2017) said they were given a restaurant-owned tablet while dining in 2018, and 90% of those used it. However, just one-fifth said using tablets made the dining experience more enjoyable. The majority are using tablets to pay the bill, look at the menu or play games, and few are using them to place an order.


For the favorite rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a casual dining chain, and their likelihood to recommend it to others. That data was averaged to rate each brand on an aggregation of the two measures – a Composite Loyalty Index. Only brands that received 100 or more reviews were included in the rankings.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in November 2018 across the United States. The pool of 6,724 respondents represented a cross-section of the four Census regions and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 56% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 74% were female, 25% were male and 1% preferred not to answer.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online at


Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Retail Banks are Making a Customer Experience Comeback

The results of Market Force Information’s annual US banking study are in, and it’s good news for the retail banks. Consumer sentiment appears to be improving, as evidenced by the fact that 57% of those surveyed are very satisfied with their relationship with their primary bank – that’s up 8 percentage points over last year. Banking customers are also more inclined to recommend their primary bank to friends or colleagues.

So why, specifically, is satisfaction up? Which aspects of the customer experience have improved at banks over last year? Market Force has identified six key measures that, when executed in combination, impact a bank’s ability to delight customers and improve their satisfaction. They include:

  • Understanding a customer’s unique needs
  • Having a customer’s complete trust
  • Resolving Issues efficiently
  • Making frequent transactions easy
  • Having an excellent reputation
  • Charging fair rates and fees

This year, we saw an increase on every one of those key measures. For some, scores went up nearly 10%. [See Graph 1].

Graph 1: Satisfaction on Six Key Measures

When we look at how the individual banks perform on those six measures, USAA Federal Savings Bank and Navy Federal Credit Union dominated the rankings, taking the first and second spots in each category. Regions Bank also scored consistently well across the board. Conversely, Wells Fargo and Bank of America landed at or near the bottom for every measure. [See Graph 2.]

Graph 2: Banks Ranked by Key Measures

It comes as no surprise, then, that our study found Navy Federal and USAA are America’s favorite financial institutions, as measured by the Composite Loyalty Index, an aggregation of consumer satisfaction and their likelihood to recommend the bank to others. The two institutions tied for the top spot this year with a shared score of 81%. Regions bank came in second, trailing Navy Federal and USAA by 20 percentage points, but outperforming all other traditional retail banks, followed by Chase, Capital One and PNC Bank. [See Graph 3.]

Graph 3: Favorite banking Institutions

While sentiment may be trending upward, Market Force still found that 13% of study participants are considering switching to a different primary bank in the next six months. The top five reasons cited for switching to another brand include:

  • Desire for lower fees or rates
  • Dissatisfaction with service received
  • Feeling that the bank is not helping to improve financial wellbeing
  • Desire for better returns on money
  • Recommendations for a new bank

As we embark on a new year, banks have the opportunity to renew their focus on the measures that matter most to their customers and drive satisfaction. Our hope is that we continue to see positive momentum in these areas and can report in 2019 that satisfaction and sentiment have continued to improve as a result of a keen focus on delighting customers and delivering an exceptional experience. 

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The Financial Brand Featuring Market Force

8 January 2019 — New Market Force research reveals what really drives people's satisfaction with their primary banking provider, and weak spots that smart institutions can exploit. Financial institutions need to understand consumers' priorities, particularly how important it is to handle problems when they arise.

Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2019


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To discuss your needs for improving performance for your multi-location brand, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss best practices for measuring the customer experience and compliance to brand standards, using analytics to understand what matters most and the ROI for change, and technology solutions that integrate large quantities of data on one single platform. We look forward to a great discussion!

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