Kale and quinoa or pizza and burgers? It would be fair to assume that the rise of ‘clean eating’, fitness influencers on Instagram and ‘super-foods’ would see fast food chains crash and burn. But this is not the case. Fast-food outlets and less-than-healthy takeaways are still flourishing. But why? Well, a fast-paced life means a demand for fast-paced food. In 2018, most people are time-short and expect instant gratification, and this certainly extends to their diet. However, it’s not all about the speed, quality or convenience of the food: it’s about the experience. In order for these fast food giants to retain customer loyalty, they must learn how to optimise their customer experience (CX).

Adoreboard gathered and analysed data, using our emotion analysis software Emotics, from five leading fast food chains to see what drives customers’ emotions towards the brands, and which outlet came out on top.

Our results may surprise you: analysis shows that Pizza Hut are at the top of their game, and the top of our list. In close second is Burger King. KFC took third place, Domino’s is in fourth and McDonald’s, surprisingly, comes in fifth. Let’s look at our analysis to better understand the scores and the key themes driving these emotional responses.

Pizza Hut prevailed as the leaders in fast food CX with a score of 31. The international franchise scored highly in trust with an impressive 51, which is 7% above the industry average, and can be attributed to their effective customer service and abundance of deals. Pizza Hut provide deals in-store as well as online. They offer student discount, unlimited salad, buffet offers and takeaway deals, and we mustn’t forget their fixed deals such as ‘Two for Tuesday’, where the customer can get two pizzas for the price of one, every Tuesday.

Trust is a hugely important part of earning the loyalty of a customer and providing meaningful experiences. Pizza Hut do this well and go the extra mile for their customers, which earns them the public perception of a trustworthy brand. It’s aspects such as positive communication and rewards that wins Pizza Hut the number 1 spot.

In close second is Burger King, who earned an Adorescore of 28. Our emotion indexes revealed high levels of joy for the burger chain, driven by positive interactions with helpful staff members and their option for delivery, which offers consumers extra convenience. Burger King scored an impressive 44 in joy, which is 3% above the industry average.

It’s important for brands to listen to the evolving needs of their customers. Burger King offering delivery shows that they’re ready to expand, to grow, and that they value positive customer experience.

Coming up next in third place is KFC, with an Adorescore of  24. KFC’s levels of trust and joy are driven by deals offered by the brand, such as schemes for students, but more importantly could be attributed to consumers’ general love of fried chicken.

However, KFC fall short when it comes to customer experience. The Kentucky-based outlet store scores a surprising 36 in both disgust and sadness. Customers continuously complain about the ‘bad attitude’ of staff and are frustrated by the lack of help and communication.

A vital aspect of continuing brand loyalty and customer satisfaction is good communication. The customer has to feel valued, and listening to them will help to drive retention and, ultimately, brand advocacy. If KFC want to keep their customers happy, they have to make their CX as tasty as their product.

In fourth place we have Domino’s Pizza, with a mediocre score of 22. The brand has been found to have poor customer service which deteriorates the levels joy experienced by customers and heightens their levels of sadness. Domino’s score 37 for disgust, which is 4% higher than the industry average. This is not a good look for Domino’s. They must work harder to fix consumers feelings of disgust towards their brand in order to improve customer satisfaction and minimise complaints. Adoreboard’s index shows that the majority of negative emotions felt by customers are driven by Domino’s ‘poor customer service’, as they continually ignore the issues brought to them.

In addition to complaints about communication, Domino’s, ironically, fall behind on the ‘fast’ aspect of fast-food, as they frequently receive complaints from frustrated customers about late delivery.

The fact remains that customer experience is key. And not even the biggest brands can forget that.

In last place, surprisingly, is the UK’s largest fast food chain, McDonalds. This corporate giant racked up a mere 16 in our Emotics analysis, with high scores of 37 in both disgust and sadness. According to our emotion analysis, McDonalds ratings for joy are 7% below the industry average. A primary reason for the brand doing so badly in terms of customer experience is the ‘shocking’ service from managers, who are said to have acted in a rude manner on a number of occasions.

Another issue people have with McDonald’s is where they stand on an environmental front. Whilst the fast food chain has admitted that it will try and end the use of plastic straws in the UK within the next year, that is not soon enough for some ethically-minded customers.  That being said, most McDonald’s outlets currently provide recycle bins in their stores for customers to separate and recycle their cardboard and plastics.

The primary let down for McDonald’s is customer service. The shocking interactions with staff are major factors driving the ‘disgust’ that consumers feel for McDonald’s. These emotions greatly impact the brand’s Adorescore and the overall public perception of the UK’s top fast-food outlet.

The results of our analysis show that caring for customers in terms of responding to them, listening to them and rewarding them can lead to brand equity and continued customer loyalty. This is exemplified most clearly by Pizza Hut, who ranked highest out of our top five. Customers expect everything from big brands, and they’re not afraid to speak out and say want. They require constant communication. They want personalisation, recognition, appreciation and in return brands will receive their custom, recommendations and support. The convenience and price of fast food should not come at the cost of good customer experience, especially for brands with a huge budget, a wide following and extensive online presence.

Adoreboard’s emotion analysis software, Emotics, allows us to measure consumer feelings and emotions that affect customer experience. Emotics uncovers themes that drive the emotional responses of consumers and provides actionable insights that improve CX and business performance.

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