WABAN, Mass. -- Based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin' Donuts, Sonic Drive-In and Little Caesar's earned the top spots in the fast-food sector of the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings.
At the other end of the spectrum, KFC and McDonalds were the lowest-rated fast-food restaurants.
The fast-food industry earned the second highest average rating out of 19 industries, falling only behind the grocery sector.
"In an industry with consistently high customer experience ratings, Chick-fil-A stands out on top," said Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group.
The Temkin Experience Ratings evaluates three areas of customer experience: functional (can customers do what they want to do), accessible (how easy it is to work with the company) and emotional (how consumers feel about their interactions).
The 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings includes 18 fast-food chains: Arby's, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Dairy Queen, Domino's, Dunkin' Donuts, Hardees, Jack in the Box, KFC, Little Caesar's, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Quiznos, Sonic, Starbucks, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy's.
The average rating for the fast-food industry increased from 74% in 2012 to 76.3% in 2013. Anything above 70% is considered a "good" rating.
Chick-fil-A is the top-scoring fast-food chain for the second straight year, with a rating of 82%. That score puts the fast-food chain at No. 3 across all industries. It also earned the top marks for functional and emotional components in fast foods.
Three other fast-food chains are in the top 10 in the overall ratings; Dunkin' Donuts, Little Caesar's, and Sonic are all tied at No. 7.
Arby's earned the top rating for the accessible component.
KFC is the lowest-ranked fast-food chain with a rating of 67%, four points below the next lowest-rated fast-food chain, McDonalds.
Hardees showed the largest improvement between 2012 and 2013, gaining 10 percentage points. Next on the list, Jack in the Box increased nine percentage points and Domino's increased eight percentage points.
While no firm declined by very much, three fast-food chains dropped three percentage points between 2012 and 2013: Starbucks, Taco Bell and KFC.
Waban, Mass.-based Temkin Group is a customer experience research and consulting firm. Bruce Temkin is a customer experience thought leader and is customer experience transformist and managing partner of Temkin Group. He is also the author of the Customer Experience Matters blog, ExperienceMatters.wordpress.com.