Chick-Fil-A Still Reigns Supreme In Customer Service (But Maybe Not For Long)

We may make our fast food choices based more on factors like price, convenience, and menu, customer service still comes into play. While the promise of smiling, helpful employees may not lure you in the doors of an establishment, having a customer service encounter of the not-so-friendly kind may well have you rethinking your next visit. With this in mind, the American Customer Satisfaction Index conducts a study year after year to determine which restaurants deliver the best consumer experience and the results for 2022-23 have now been tabulated.

When it comes to full-service restaurants, steakhouses still make up a meaty chunk of the charts, with Outback Steakhouse being the most popular of all. Down at the more affordable quick service level, the top spot is still held by Chick-fil-A. Gen-Z's favorite chain is closing in on nearly a decade as America's most popular fast food chain. Will the chicken champs make it to a 10-year anniversary, or will an upstart sandwich shop dethrone the chain? According to the data, Jimmy John's is number two with a bullet, surging up the list with a 6% rise in popularity from last year as compared to just 2% for Chick-Fil-A. (The previous year, Chick-Fil-A's overall score didn't rise at all, although they still retained the top spot.)

Here's how Jimmy John's earned that bullet

Jimmy John's catchphrase may be "Freaky Fast," but how is it putting that into practice when it comes to catching up with customer service champ Chick-fil-A? Over this past year, its meteoric rise to sole possession of the second-place spot on the ACSI restaurant survey (fast food division) may have been fueled by several initiatives. One of these involved gamifying the sandwich-making experience with the Metasandwich promo which allowed users to create their own customized subs in a virtual environment, then vote on which ones became IRL menu items. (Hard to imagine a world, virtual or otherwise, in which CFA makes a similar attempt at crowd-sourcing its menu.)

Yet another way in which Jimmy John's is trying to make things fun for customers is with a rewards program that goes above and beyond merely offering free fries with every 10th sandwich purchased or whatever. While Chick-fil-A has a rewards program of its own (de rigueur for fast food chains), the rewards consist of menu items earned by purchasing more of the same. At Jimmy John's, however, the rewards program may include challenges such as trying all the different sandwiches and the rewards include swag like a JJ beanbag chair. So will these types of rewards help lead Jimmy John's to a surprise victory in 2024 as they dethrone CFA and put an end to the 9-year streak at the top of the ACSI charts? Tune in next year to find out.