Earlier today, the lovely folks at the American Customer Satisfaction Index released their latest data for airlines and fast food restaurants. And judging by the companies that came in last in each category, being the biggest doesn’t make you any better.
In last year’s airline index, Delta was ranked fifth out of the seven major airlines on the list. But its acquisition of last year’s worst airline, Northwest, didn’t do its index score any favors. Delta’s customer satisfaction index dropped a whopping 9.7% from last year. And since ACSI began keeping score in 1995, Delta has sunk an amazing 27.3%. In its heyday, Big D was second only to Southwest on the index.
Speaking of Southwest, they continued their unbeaten streak atop the ACSI list, even experiencing a 2.5% uptick over last year. Meanwhile, the airline industry as a whole was down 1.5%, with the obvious reasons of poor service, higher fuel prices, and fees for baggage and everything else under the sun.
Passengers who pay for checked bags are much less satisfied than those who don’t (an ACSI score of 58 compared to 68). They also are more dissatisfied now than a year ago (-3%). Since nearly half of all fliers pay bag fees, the negative impact on their satisfaction is significant. Airlines have another concern as well. Their most profitable market segment, business passengers, is the least satisfied (ACSI score of 61).
The Not-So-Golden Arches
McDonald’s ACSI score jumped up 7.5% from last year, but that still wasn’t enough to keep the nation’s largest burger chain out of the cellar in the fast food category.
But Ronald wasn’t the only burger biggie to perform below par. Both Wendy’s and Burger King were also in the bottom half of the 10 quick-service chains listed.
ACSI founder Claes Fornell sees a silver lining for the Golden Arches:
Since the gap to its competitors has narrowed, this may well be the sweet spot for McDonald’s… It’s not that the Golden Arches operation is so big that its revenue is immune to low customer satisfaction, but rather it is less impacted by low satisfaction compared with the competition. Convenience, kid appeal, location, low prices, and meeting customer expectations are the ingredients of success for McDonald’s. Mix in a healthier dose of customer satisfaction, and the company’s near future looks better than it did a year ago.
The top half of the index was dominated by the pizza makers of America, with Pizza Hut winning top honors and Little Caesar, Papa John’s and Domino’s all landing in the top five.
You can see the whole index at TheACSI.org.