One metric that nearly every company monitors as an indicator of customer loyalty is NPS or a variation of it. The reason for this is that in an age where peer recommendations are as important (if not more so) as celebrity endorsements, engaging a customer to the point of influencing their network of friends and family is a telltale benchmark of strong CX.
In light of this significance, market research firm YouGov BrandIndex recently measured brand loyalty in the dining vertical according to this measurement, surveying customers about whether they would recommend the brand to friends and/or family.
“A customer who is actively recommending a brand is beyond satisfied, and actually working, consciously or not, on behalf of the brand to bring it, new customers,” said YouGov BrandIndex CEO Ted Marzilli. “Plus, when a person provides a recommendation for a brand, he or she is putting his or her reputation on the line. That confidence is indicative of brand loyalty.”
Leading the way in the rankings was Panera Bread, with 58.8 percent of surveyed guests saying that they would recommend the chain. Notably, this takes the top spot not just in QSR, but even among full-service restaurants like Longhorn Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse.
Rounding out the top five QSR/fast-casual brands were Culver’s (55.2 percent), In-N-Out (52.4 percent), Chick-fil-A (51.6 percent), and Five Guys (50.5 percent).
While the quality of service and products plays the largest role in determining the likelihood of a customer recommendation, there are a larger number of factors in play that may also influence the decision to spread the word about a given brand.
“Smaller, regional brands might also benefit from a feeling among its customers that the brand is still a ‘secret’ or a pleasure available to a small group of people who live in a particular region of the country,” continued Marzilli. “And that might contribute to a sense of pride in the brand, which they are then happy to share with friends and family.”
Even with these smaller variables swaying results slightly, there’s simply no substitute for a customer experience that goes above and beyond, prompting a guest to recommend the brand to their network. If these rankings are any indication, Panera Bread has laid the groundwork for success both now and for years to come.

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